Venus of Willendorf
c. 24,000-22,000 BCE
4 3/8 inches (11.1 cm) high
(Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna)
first generally accepted piece of prehistoric art is assumed
to be the Venus of Willendorf
from lower Austria.
painted walls of the interconnected series of caves in Lascaux
(c. 15,000 BC) in southwestern France are
among the most impressive artistic creations of Paleolithic
humans. Although there is one human image, most of the
paintings depict animals found in the surrounding landscape,
such as horses, bison, mammoth, ibex, aurochs, deer, and
felines. No vegetation or illustration of the environment
is portrayed around the animals, who are represented in
profile and often standing in an alert and energetic stance.
Their vitality is achieved by the broad, rhythmic outlines
around areas of soft color. In addition to the painted images,
Lascaux is rich with engravings of animals as well as abstract
designs. In the absence of natural light, these works could
only have been created with the aid of torches and stone
lamps filled with animal fat.
3000 - 1400 BC
More than 4,000 years ago, the people of the Neolithic period
decided to build a massive monument using
timber and eventually, stones, placing it high on Salisbury
Plain in Wiltshire, England -- about 137 kilometres southwest
of London. Why anyone ever decided to build Stonehenge remains
a mystery, with theories ranging from religion to astronomy.
Some of what was Stonehenge still stands today, as mysterious
and sacred as it must have been to the hundreds of people
who helped build the site.