Archeologist Aczel ( Fermat's Last Theorem , The Jesuit and the Skull , etc.) has visited most of the Paleolithic caves still open to the public, and spent years researching European cave art, attempting to explain "the appearance, around 32,000 years ago, of magnificent paintings, drawings and engravings... [inside] almost inaccessible recesses of large Ice-Age caverns." First discovered in the 1870s, these caves were adorned by stone-age forebears over a 20,000-year period. Most of the paintings can be be found only after crawling for miles to where open "galleries" are decorated, wall and ceiling, with animal groups rendered in naturalistic detail. Groupings retain similar features in different locations over the whole 20,000 year period, and experts still argue over its meaning: Who were the artists? Why did they hide their art? Did it play a part in mystical ceremonies? Did they appreciate its beauty? Aczel's archeological exploration, including stories about the explorers and scientists who first discovered the ancient artwork, is a lively journey through time into the mystery of a people who may have "possessed deep understanding and perhaps even a cosmic picture of nature." *Red Star Review ( PW review, August 2009)Vom Verlag:
What France's ancient cave drawings may reveal about the origin of language, art, and human thought--insights into one of the greatest mysteries in anthropology They roam deep underground in the recesses of French (and some Spanish) caves: Bulls and bison. Horses and stags. Rhinos, bears, human-like creatures, and more. Painted, drawn, or engraved, these incredible images are 32,000 years old, yet they seem full of personality and life. Who were the artists? How did they make these paintings miles into labyrinthine caves with only stone candles to light the way? Why did the artists make them and what do they mean? What about the undecipherable signs accompanying the art? Popular science writer Amir Aczel examines the cave drawings and the theories scientists have put forward to explain them, including religious iconography, hunting trophies, and a leap in human brain development. Drawing on years of research and his own visits to Paleolithic caves, Aczel takes us underground on an unforgettable journey of discovery at the crossroads of art, science, and history in the quest to solve the mysteries of this Stone Age art and deepen our understanding of human evolution. Amir D. Aczel (Brookline, MA) is a research fellow in the history of science at Boston University and former visiting scholar at Harvard University. He is the author of 14 books, including Fermat's Last Theorem (978-0-385-31946-1), Descartes's Secret Notebook (978-0-7679-2034-6), and The Jesuit and the Skull (978-1-59448-956-3). He has appeared on the CBS Evening News, CNN, CNBC, and ABC's Nightline, as well as NPR's Weekend Edition and Morning Edition.
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