Paleolithic and Neolithic Periods of History


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There are several similarities as well as differences in the artistic representations and styles of the Paleolithic period and the Neolithic period. The Paleolithic period was a society where hunting was essential. The people during this period had to move around to get new resources for their survival. Whereas during the Neolithic era they were more of settled society and were able to stay in one area for the most part.

Tools and materials used in both the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras were alike because both used tools such as stone and bones, but also different at the same time. Mary Smith, the author of an article called, “The Difference between Paleolithic and Neolithic Art,” stated “Paleolithic art used very rudimentary tools. Flint tools were used to carve stones as well as sharp bones, ivory, and antlers to sculpt into limestone, sandstone, and wood” (4). They also used terracotta and clay and a tool called the hand-ax was also used to create their art pieces. During the Neolithic period, they learned to model and bake clay.

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Paleolithic art visually represented the things they found in their environment. The majority of their paintings were of hunting situations. For example, the cave painting, “Hall of Bulls”, found in 1940 at Lascaux, in Southwest France, displayed very detailed and lively animals that looked realistic. As well as their painting represented fertility, by having figures of obese women because it “celebrate what was then the mystery of birth and procreation” (Smith 3). A piece of art that exemplified this was the figure of “Women from Willendorf” created in Austria. It was carved from limestone and had a big breast and a big stomach. The large body parts of this female represent fertility.

Neolithic art mostly focused on agriculture, domesticated animals, the human figure, and sometimes mixtures of human form and animal form pieces of art. They mostly focused on females’ faces such as their eyes and details, rather than just their bodies, whereas in Paleolithic art females’ faces weren’t detailed or shown. For example, the “Huma-Fish Sculpture” from Serbia around 6300-5500 BCE. It is a sculpture that looked had human features as well as fish features. Another known piece of art from the Neolithic era is the “Figure of a Woman and Man” found in a grade in Cernavoda out of ceramics. The woman is sitting close to the ground whereas the man is sitting on a rock. Scholars believe that the woman is looking up at her companion because her face and eyes are lifted. They also believe that the male figure is lost in thought. Because his head is leaning on his hands.  

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