Animated Cave Drawings

You thought movies were less than a couple hundred years old. Of course, zoetropes and other such optical toys go back hundreds of years. But archaeologist Marc Azema and French artist Florent Rivere say that prehistoric cavemen had their own way of making moving pictures! Cave paintings in Lascaux and other areas of France have animals with multiple heads and legs. This is a puzzle, until you imagine a Paleolithic storyteller waving a torch back and forth over the images to make... moving pictures!

“Lascaux is the cave with the greatest number of cases of split-action movement by superimposition of successive images. Some 20 animals, principally horses, have the head, legs or tail multiplied,” Azéma said.

Azema and other archaeologists have found small disks called thaumatropes which were carved from bone in Paleolithic times and acted as a crude, mini movie camera by tricking the eye. Azema thinks these artists used similar tools to create the drawings, which give us a glimpse at the first origins of what we know as cinema…and they did it well before those credited with the invention in the 19th century.

The cave movies depended on persistence of vision, just like the later zoetropes and film projectors. See examples in a video at WebProNews. Link  -via Not Exactly Rocket Science


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