Prehistoric art refers to the visual expressions created by humans before the invention of writing systems. It encompasses a vast period of time, from the emergence of Homo sapiens approximately 300,000 years ago to the advent of civilization around 3,000 BCE. Here is a glossary of key terms associated with prehistoric art:

  1. Paleolithic Era: The earliest period of prehistoric art, also known as the Old Stone Age. It spans from approximately 2.6 million years ago to around 12,000 BCE.

  2. Megalith: A large stone used in prehistoric architecture, often arranged in formations such as stone circles, dolmens, or menhirs. They served various purposes, including burial sites or ceremonial monuments.

  3. Cave Painting: Paintings created on cave walls or ceilings, often depicting animals, human figures, and abstract symbols. These paintings provide insights into prehistoric cultures and their way of life.

  4. Venus Figurines: Small sculptures of women with exaggerated sexual characteristics, typically associated with fertility rituals. These figurines were made from various materials such as stone, bone, or ivory.

  5. Petroglyph: Carvings or engravings made on rock surfaces. Petroglyphs often depict animals, human figures, or abstract symbols and were created by incising or pecking the rock's surface.

  6. Shamanism: A religious practice believed to have been present in prehistoric societies. Shamans were spiritual leaders who communicated with the spirit world and played significant roles in rituals and healing.

  7. Neolithic Revolution: The transition from a nomadic hunting and gathering lifestyle to settled farming communities. This transition brought about changes in social organization and the development of more complex artistic expressions.

  8. Dolmen: A type of megalithic tomb consisting of large upright stones supporting a horizontal stone slab or capstone. Dolmens were often used as burial sites.

  9. Lascaux Cave: A famous cave complex in France containing some of the most well-preserved and renowned Paleolithic cave paintings. The cave paintings in Lascaux provide valuable insights into prehistoric art and culture.

  10. Rock Shelter: An overhanging rock formation used as a temporary dwelling by prehistoric communities. Rock shelters often contain evidence of prehistoric art, including paintings and engravings.


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