Exploring the Interrelationships of Art and Geology through a Course Module on European Ice Age Cave Art

By Battles, Denise A.; Hudak, Jane Rhoades | Journal of Geoscience Education, March 2005 | Go to article overview

Exploring the Interrelationships of Art and Geology through a Course Module on European Ice Age Cave Art


Battles, Denise A., Hudak, Jane Rhoades, Journal of Geoscience Education


ABSTRACT

The theme of European ice age cave art is one that is well suited for art-and-science and art-and-geology courses, offering a wealth of topics that illustrate the interdisciplinary connections between art and the earth sciences. Among these are the origins of caves, the nature of ice ages, the authentification and dating of cave paintings, the scientific method and the nature of scientific hypotheses, the elements and principles of art and their presence (or absence) in cave art, and human evolution and the origins of creativity. In this article, we examine these and several other such topics as they relate to the theme of Paleolithic cave art. We also propose student and class activities that might be developed for an art and geology course, including some that we have utilized in our own course. Our aim is to provide an overview of key concepts and resources such that interested geoscience and/or art faculty will have sufficient information to adapt or develop a module or activity appropriate for their own courses.

INTRODUCTION

The disciplines of art and geology may at first seem an unlikely pairing for a college course. However, the combined study of art and earth science extends back at least as far as Leonardo da Vinci, whose artwork displays an appreciation of such fundamental geologic principles as lateral continuity and superposition (Rosenberg, 2000). As evidenced by the recent topical session "Teaching Earth Science with Art" at the 1999 annual meeting of the Geological Society of America and accompanying articles published in a May 2000 special issue of the Journal of Geoscience Education, art and geology are complementary disciplines that lend themselves to non-majors instruction. At Georgia Southern University, we have developed a sophomore-level seminar course, "Art and Geology," which is offered to honors students (Battles and Hudak, 2003). The theme of European Paleolithic cave art forms the first module of our course, serving as an introduction to both art and earth science concepts. Our purpose in this article is to introduce the topic of European ice age cave art, highlighting the art and geology content and connections, and share ideas and identify resources for class activities based on this topic.

BACKGROUND

Cave paintings are an example of parietal or wall art, one of two major forms of Paleolithic art. The other form, called portable or mobiliary art, includes small and transportable artworks such as carvings of animals or female figurines. Parietal art has been identified at numerous sites in western Europe, with a concentration in southern France and Spain (Figure 1). Famous examples include the caves at Lascaux and Altamira; a more recent discovery is the stunning Chauvet Cave. With radiocarbon ages ranging from about 32,000 to 11,000 years before present (B.P.), the parietal cave art dates to the last Pleistocene glaciation event. In Europe, this climatic episode is called the Wiirm glaciation, which lasted from about 70,000 - 10,200 B.P. (Clottes and Courtin, 1996). The oldest of the cave art likely overlaps the period in which the Cro-Magnon people - modern humans and the creators of the cave art - coexisted with Neandertals in Europe (White, 2003; Appenzeller, 1998). The apparent lack of similar art attributable to the Neandertals offers an interesting look at human evolution and the origins of creative expression.

While vivid, colorful renderings of horses and bison may be the first images to come to mind, European ice age parietal art includes a diverse set of forms and subject matter. Representations include a variety of animals and non-figurative signs and depictions of humans. Horses, bison, ibex, red deer, and aurochs are common among cave art fauna; portrayals are also known of rhinoceros, lions, bears, mammoths, birds, and fish. Some caves are rather unique in their depicted fauna; for example, Chauvet is noted for its unusually high proportion of dangerous animals (Chauvet et al. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Exploring the Interrelationships of Art and Geology through a Course Module on European Ice Age Cave Art
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.