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TEXTE EXPLICATIVE

ISTORIA UNIVERSAL A ARHITECTURII I ARTELOR 2009-2010 ANTICHITATEA I EVUL MEDIU


Lector drd.arh. Corina LUCESCU Materialele prezentate au scop didactic. Folosirea lor n alte scopuri dect cele necesare procesului de nvmnt, este sancionat potrivit legislaiei n vigoare.

ARTA RUPESTR / PALEOLITIC


Cave Paintings
The largest part of the cave paintings was found in Europe (from Spain upto the Ural). Naturally, on the walls of neglected caves with the entrances firmly blocked up thousands years ago, the paintings are in a good condition. During centuries the same temperature and humidity have been kept up in them. That is why, together with the cave paintings, other numerous evidences of the human activity are perfectly preserved, among them - distinct footprints of adults and, what is more impressive, of children on the wet floor of some caves. Provinces Dordogne, Ariege Upper Pyrenees in France, Spanish provinces Cantabria and Asturias, adjoining Pyrenees from south-west, are especially remarkable for the concentration of the cave paintings. In literature this region is generally entitled Franco-Cantabria. There are less monuments of Palaeolithic art in French and Italian Riviera, on Sicily; two caves with paintings are found in the southern Ural. The majority of those caves and grottoes were discovered and became the objects of special investigation during the last century. Palaelothic art was long considered to be a purely European or Eurasian phenomenon and no monuments of this type exist on the other continents. H. Breuil even tried to substantiate this exceptional nature of proto-European culture. But later, in the 60 70s it turned out to be not correct. In Australia, on Arnemland peninsula, depictions of a kangaroo and hand stencils older than 12000 years were found. In South Africa finds from grotto Appolo 11 are the most interesting. In 1969 two painted stone palm-sized plaquettes were found in the layer between Mousterian and Upper Palaeolithic. One of them was split into two fragments. A rhino depiction made with a black pigment is on one of the plaquettes, an ungulate - on the other. They are dated according to C - 14 to 28000 - 26000 years. In South Africa, in the Lions Cave, the most ancient known place of ochre output, dated according to C-14 to 43200 was found. Hypothetically, some ancient paintings in Siberia, southern Anatolia and northern China are referred to the Upper Palaeolithic but still there are no more or less correct dates of those depictions. Modern data of the cave painting prevalence do not reflect any objective regularity. Rarity of the finds of this kind on the territory between Frano-Cantabria and the Ural can be rather explained by the natural conditions and unequal research of the territories with the caves than by any other reasons. In pre-historic art study the process of the "primary accumulation" of the data is not only far from consummation but even not complete, the more so it is difficult to determine the level of this "sufficiency". Even in southern France, the territory, regular studied for a hundred of years, one can make unexpected discoveries. In the region with concentrated cave paintings, 1

which seems to be investigated thoroughly by abbey H.Breuil and his first pupils in their time, 21 previously unknown caves were discovered in the period between 1984 up to 1994. Among them there are caves, just as ancient, abounding in finds and diverse as world famous due to their paintings Altamira, Lascaux and others. As for the Chauvet cave, it occupies the leading position among them. Probably a new cave with even more ancient, perfect and diverse paintings will be found soon.

In 1994 more than 300 caves, grottoes and roofs with paintings, undoubtedly dated to the Upper Palaeolithic, are known in Europe. Among them 150 - in France, 125 - in Spain, 3 - in Portugal, 21 - in Italy, 1 - in Yugoslavia, 1 - in Roumania, 2 - in Germany and 2 - in Russia. Numerous objects of portable art are found on the sites, in caves during excavations and accidentally. The number of the finds in Russia exceeded 150 ( the most eastern - in Pribaikalje) New finds and discoveries are, undoubtedly, still ahead RUSIA KAPOVA
CAVE (Shulgan-Tash). As in many other similar cases the caveitself was known for a very long time. In 1760 it was already described by P.I.Rychkov in one of his historic-geographical works about Priuralje. As V.I. Dal' noticed, many local traditions and legends are connected with the cave. But the archaeologists paid attention to the cave only after 1959, when A.V.Ryumin had discovered palaeolithic paintings on its walls. Mammoths, rhinos, a bison and horses are easily recognized among them. The first investigations of the paintings were carried out by O.N.Bader, who established that they are dated to the last period of the Upper Palaeolithic.

The cave has two levels of cavities - two "floors". Some of these cavities are called "halls". There are the Cupola Hall, The Hall of Signs, the Chaos Hall on the ground floor, the Hall of Drawings - on the first floor. Colourful figurative drawings are, mainly, in the upper level, a rather long distance from the entrance, as in the most upper palaeolithic caves. Excavations have uncovered an occupation layer, containing isolated bones of wild animals, extinct among them, for example, the cave bear.

Together with other finds testifying to the man's activity, numerous lumps of ochre, used for making pigments, have been found. There also was a small limestone fragment of the wall, fallen down long ago, bearing a part of a picturesque depiction of a mammoth. Ancient charcoal picked up in the occupation layer allowed to get an absolute date - 14680 + 150 years ago.

SPANIA ALTAMIRA
Is one of the most famous palaeolithic caves in Spain. It is situated in Cantabria province not far from Santander city, on the edge of Santiliana del Mar village. Although the cave and its paintings are known all over the world, the dramatic history of its first investigator, Don Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, the owner of the land, where the cave is located, is not so familiar. The cave was found by a local hunter, Modesto Peres in 1868. Everybody in the neighbourhood knew about the cave, herdsmen found there refuge in bad weather, hunters made halts. But only 11 years later, in 1879, Maria, M. de Sautuola's daughter, walking in the estate, turned her father's attention on the strange images on the ceiling of one of the "halls", barely discernible in the darkness of the cave. hat day had started M. Sanz de Sautuola's long tribulations. A year before he had been at the world exhibition in Paris and got aquainted with an exposition of ancient objects, which we now call palaeolithic small forms (art mobilier). Engraved depictions of bisons, very similar to those found by Maria and him on the ceiling and walls of Altamira, were among them. That made de Sautuola guess that the paintings of Altamira dated back to the Stone Age. He began excavations in the cave and invited his friend, a well-known specialist in the field of prehistoric archaeology, professor of the Madrid university Juan Vilanova y Piera for a consultation. The latter supported de Sautuola's conjecture. Soon they published the first information about that unique monument, which evoked general interest and even made king Alfonso XII visit the marvel cave. But all the prominent specialists in archaeology, especially French ones, beginning with Gabriel de Mortillet, admitting the palaeolithic age of the finds, made during excavations in Altamira, rejected flatly Piera and de M. Sanz de Sautuola's arguments in favour of the palaeolithic dating of the paintings. And what is more, de Sautuola was accused in deliberate distortion. They 3

considered that the paintings had been made by one of his friends, an artist, who stayed in his castle. One can imagine the moral shock caused by "the guardians of the scientific truth" to the spanish nobleman with his enhanced sense of dignity and honour. Only almost 15 years after M. de Sautuolas death his opponents, and E.Kartaillak in particular, had to admit that the Altamira paintings are really palaeolithic.

The most famous Altamira paintings are on the plafond - a low ceiling in one of the cave "vestibules" to the left from the entrance. The total area of the ceiling is about 100 sq. ms. Here the artist had skillfully combined pigment painting with the ceiling relief. The majority of more than 20 animal figures, (mainly bisons, though there are also a horse, a boar and a deer) is depicted on the natural bosses of the ceiling and so there comes out an impressive picture of basrelief, embossed figures. When the palaeolithic age of the Altamira paintings had been generally accepted discussions of other problems started. In particular, was the Altamira ceiling painting the result of a single action ( in the terms of life of one man) and conception or was it a long accumulation of different depictions? Some investigators were sure that the Altamira ceiling is a sound compositional work. Though nobody said it directly but it was somehow implied that it was the work of one artist. It concerns not only the Altamira ceiling. The painting of the Niaux "Salon Noire" was also considered to be the work of one artist and only the ibex figure was admitted to be corrected later. Other specialists, A.P.Okladnikov for example, considered the Altamira ceiling to be the result of successive addition of depictions, originally not connected. The last results of the radiocarbon dating of some ceiling paintings showed that 200 - 500 years separate them.

FRANTA
LASCAUX
Is situated near Montignak ( Dordogne, 40 kms from Perigueux), at the end of a plateau on the left bank of the Vezer river. An old legend says, there was an underground passage from the Montignak castle under the Vezer and the Lascaux estate with hidden treasures. Four teen-agers were looking for these treasures when on the 12th of September 1940 they had found a small entrance into a cave which concealed real riches - magnificent rock paintings dated by the late Palaeolithic. These are depictions of different animals (horses, bisons, deer, bulls and others) and unlike figures in other caves which, at first sight, look static and almost lifeless, those in Lascaux are full of motion and harmony. Abbot Glory had been working in the cave from 1952 up to 1963 and found more than 2000 depictions on its walls.

Lascaux depictions are mainly compositions, comprising figures of bulls, horses, deer and ibices. Animal depictions are accompanied with different signs and figures: quadrangular, ramifide, lines from dots, double lines and crosses. In one of the scenes on the wall of a deep (6ms) well a figure of a man is present. The scene has many interpretations, one of them is symbolically called "corrida".

Corrida
The Lascaux shaft "scene" (about 1,5 m in cross-section) suggests some ideas. The scene of the combat of a man and a bull from the Lascaux cave is not unique in the upper Palaeolithic art. A painting close in subject is in the Pindal cave (Spain): a wounded bull aimed his horns at two prostrate figures, one of them also with a marked male sign. The same subject is engraved on an antler from the Laugerie -Basse cave. One can well believe, that an artistic image of a tragic conflict between a man and a bull had appeared almost together with the art itself and remained steadily in all the subsequent periods of history. This theme is still one of the leading in the eurasian artistic folklore from Franco-Cantabrien and Levant on the west up to Pribaikalye and Mongolia on the east. But to the east from Baikal area and tothe north from the boundary between the partially-wooded steppe and the taiga the image of a bull is not met in the ancient imaginative monuments. Ancient cults, connected with a bull, were also widely spread in the eurasian steppes and at the foothills. A very interesting sculptural composition from the bull skulls coated with clay and painted with ochre was found in one of the "temples" of the ancient aeneolithic settlement Chatal-Huyuk

We see an infuriated bison which will any moment trample, tear to pieces a slim strange ithyphallic figure with a bird's head. Some authors think that it is a wounded bull with sunk darts or spears, ripped belly and the internal organs falling out of it.. Is it true or not, but the scene is 5

very dramatic. The rod with a profiled image of a bird: it may be an ornamental dart-thrower, fell down from the right hand of the man. Tools of that type, skillfully cut from the horn are often found during excavations of the palaeolithic monuments. Some of them are decorated with figures of the birds.

In ancient Aeneolithc and Bronze burials one can find the bull's bones, that is, the remains of meat pieces which were put by the relatives in the grave as funeral food for the dead. Judging by the bones the deceased was supplied with the meat of either a wild bison, or a domestic bull. Hence, even after domestication of the bull, the wild-bull-hunting still went on. Developed in the Upper Palaeolithc, the bull cult gradually turned into a sacrifice ritual and spread over the whole eurasian zone of mountains and steppes. It is clearly seen by some finds in the barrows of the catacomb culture (II millenium B.C.). At the catacomb entrance or in the burial mound there are accurately piled bull's skull and bones of four legs (the end parts).It means that during funeral a bull was killed and its skin with the head and four legs, cut off the shoulders or thighs, were ripped off. The skin with the legs and the head were devoted to the dead and the rest carcass was used as a funeral food. Within the boundaries of this theme some subjects with the participation of a man and a bull are of special interest. They are numerous: from the frescoes of the aeneolithic Chatal-Huyuk to Hellenistic Mitra, killing a bull and up to the modern Spanish corrida. The real sources of the mythological subject, probably, lie in the world of the Upper Palaeothic hunters (about 20000 years ago). The wild bull hunting was always very dangerous and required complete mobilization of moral and physical strengths of a person, his deftness, lightning response and thoroughly worked out "technology", which was, obviously taught from the very childhood to make all the skills and methods automatic. A hunter could rely neither on a prolonged fight nor on an escape in flight in case of bad luck: the forces were too unequal. That is why he had to kill the bull almost with one exact stroke. If the stroke did not achieve the aim or was not powerful enough, the infuriated bull rushed at the hunter and the latter's destiny depended on his fast legs or a tree, happily turned up on his way, where he could shelter. On an even place the hunter was doomed to destruction.

Archaeological observations give interesting data concerning the combat of a man and a bull. An exceptional discovery, made by Z.A.Abramova during the excavations of the upper palaeolithic settlement Kokorevo I in the Yeniseivalley, testifies to the thoroughly worked out technology of the wild- bull- hunting. There a left shoulder-blade of a large 6-7 years old bison was found. A horn head of a dart or of an arrow stuck in it. The sharp edge of the head, having pierced the shoulder-blade, went out almost 4 cm from its inner side. After such a stroke the slightest 6

movement of the left front leg injured the bison greatlybecause at any movement of the leg the dart edge cut and torn the shoulder and chest muscles under the shoulder-blade. A single wound like that was enough to make the animal quite unable to fight or to escape. That method of hunting, mastered almost 15000 ago, was used during the whole subsequent period of history. The American Indians, while hunting the bisons with a spear or a bow in the XVIII c, used almost the same method.

Lascaux was always of great interest not only for the scientists but for numerous tourists as well. Often visits of large tourist groups changed the microclimate of the cave and had a destructive influence on the paintings. According to the decision of the Minister of Culture of France Andre Malraux, the Lascaux cave was repurchased by the state and closed for visitors for 14 years. Thanks to the long and intricate work of a whole group of archaeologists , biologists, speleologists and geomorphologers the paintings and graphics of the cave were saved from destruction. But up till now the Lascauz cave is still closed for tourists. Only a specialist can visit the cave by a special order, made almost a year in advance. Not more than 6 persons can enter the cave per day. Two days a week the cave is completely closed. In connection with conservation and restoration of the Lascaux paintings the public interest had greatly increased. Montignak is near busy roads, going to the south of France, the traditional place of rest. There came the idea to construct an artificial copy of the cave. But to put the idea into practice one needed a completely new technology. Such a technology was tried on the paintings from "Rotunda".

The largest congestion of depictions is in the main cavity, which, owing to its round contours is called "Rotunda" or the Hall of Bulls and in the adjoining Axled and Right crossings .

FRANTA ROUFFIGNAC
Rouffignac is one of the longest and most ramifide caves with palaeolithic paintings. Total length of all the chambers and galleries in three levels is about 10 kms. The cave itself was 7

known long ago. It was mentioned in F. de Belfore's "Universal cosmography of the world (1575). A plan of the cave with an indication of ancient inscriptions on the Large Decorated Ceiling was made at the end of the last centure" (Martel). In 1915 the cave was visited by abbot Henry Breuil, a beginner - researcher of the caves then. In 1956 the piece of land with the cave was bought by the Plassard family. The same year their friends, archaeologists Romain Robert and Louis-Rene Nougier visited the estate. On the 26-th of June Robert, looking at the wall of the cave, called his friend: "Hi, Toto, come here and see!". These were depictions of two mammoths - an obvious testimony of their palaeolithic age. Since that time the paintings and engravings of Rouffingac cave became the object of close study by specialists and the place of continuous pilgrimage for tourists. The cave being very long, a narrow-gauge railway with special mini-trains, consisting of open platforms each for 6-8 persons, was made there. Special lamps are fixed on the platforms, lightening some sections of the walls with paintings while the train is passing by.

MAMMOTHS The mammoth was the most popular personage of the Rouffignac cave paintings. There are 157 depictions of that ancient extinct elephant. Usually they are isolated figures or a string of animals. But in two cases the mammoths oppose each other. You can see one of these depictions here (length 110 cm). The left mammoth has both tusks directed onward. One tusk of the right mammoth is directed onward and the second is slightly turned aside. Is it a heraldic composition or a scene of the combat between two giants? One can only guess: According to Jean , there is not a sign of aggression in the scene. Specialists are still discussing the authenticity and dating to the Upper Palaeolithic of some depictions from Rouffingac cave. Mostly non-French specialists have doubts. The majority of arguments concerns the frieze ofthree rhino figures and a part of the ceiling featuring ibex figures. There are statements of some speleologists, who had visited the cave in the period between September and December 1948 and saw only two rhinos then and the third one 8

appeared only in 1949. Some specialists think that there are depictions of modern "naive" artists on the ceiling. Rouffingac paintings have not been dated according to C-14 yet and the necessity of the dating is obvious.

THE RHINO FRIEZE The cave is known for a long time. A lot of different people visited it. When it was established that the majority of the paintings is dated by the Upper Palaeolithic, there appeared rumours about later, hardly not modern fakes, some hand- stencils in particular. Some people consider several mammoth depictions too "naive" to be ancient. But the most "unlucky" is the frieze with three rhinos. One local landowner claimed he saw them in 1938 but there are also categorical statements from some speleologists who frequently visited the cave at the end of 1940s that two rhinos out of three appeared between September and December 1948, and the third - by Easter 1949. Actually, a specialist sees the stylistic difference between two left rhinos, on one side and the right rhino, on the other. But, of course, it does not speak to forgery. The fact that the speleologists did not see the frieze till the autumn 1948 speaks to nothing. Let us remember the Kapova cave which is known from the XVIII c., and the paintings there were discovered only in 1959. Poor lightening, calcite film and many other circumstances can prevent a nonprofessional from seeing ancient paintings. H. Breuil, discussing the rumours about fakes in the Rouffignac, humorously said that it was not an easy matter to forge Palaeolithic painting and that in those years no one but he could do it.

THE PAINTED CEILING Every species of the animals is marked with its colour on the coloured drawing. Depictions of 26 mammoths, 12 bisons, 12 goats, 12 horses and 3 rhinos can be seen here, on the large painted ceiling. All the horses are on the left almost in the middle of the ceiling, whereas 10 goat figures are far (deep) at the periphery and only two of them are among figures of horses, bisons and mammoths. One schematic depiction of a rhino is at the entrance, far from the other figures, the other two are closer to the center. Depictions of bisons and mammoths are in all the parts of the ceiling. parts of 9

The whole painted area of the ceiling is characterized with four distinct peculiarities: the mammoths are the predominant figures, their depictions are mainly out of the center; the figures of the horses are in the left part of the ceiling; one representative of every numerous species (the mammoth, the bison, the goat and the horse) is depicted larger than all the others. The investigation of the overlapping of one depictions with the other shows that the process of the ceiling painting was rather long. the ceiling.

FRANTA NIAUX
From the very beginning of the XVII th century the cave was of great interest for tourists who left numerous traces on its walls. People, visited the cave, did not imagine that the paintings of the "Salon Noire" were so old. Only in 1906 thanks to captain Molar and his sons who made a plan of the cave and discovered the paintings of the "Salon Noire". Niaux attracted the specialists' attention. In 1907 it was investigated by H. Breuill and the "Salon Noire" paintings was only the beginning. In 1925 J. Mandeman found a gallery with some black paintings and called it Cartailhac Gallery. Later it was established that the paintings had been emerging on the cave walls during a long period between 11500 and 10500 years BC.

The visitor, entering the cave for the first time, is struck with the dimensions of its halls and galleries. The height of the ceilings is several dozens of meters and the length of the galleries is more than 2 km. The cave is open for the tourists the whole year but the number of visitors in a group is strictly limited because often visits of numerous tourists can badly influence the paintings.

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The animals' depictions on the photo are a part of the central panel of the "Salon Noire", almost a round hall with six magnificent panels, mainly with depictions of bisons, horses, goats and different symbols. The animals are almost always profiled -depicted as they are easily recognized in such a position. Next to the nearly schematic sketches there are figures of animals with thoroughly depicted details, more than enough to recognize the animal.

The bison is the main subject of the paintings in the cave. At the photo you can see one of the seven bisons from the third panel of "Salon Noire", which is, as all other depictions of the cave, an evidence of the high skill of the prehistoric artists. Not a single depiction is repeated twice, the eyes, nostrils, horns of every animal are painted in a special manner. Owing to the accuracy of depiction Niaux is one of the caves with a small number of depictions which are not realized.

FRANTA PECH MERLE


Pech Merle cave is in the south of France, department Lot, 280 m high on the eastern slope of the hill of the same name. Pech Merle was discovered in 1922 by two teenagers, H. David and A. Duterte. It is the main element of a system, consisting of the neighbouring caves. The average width of its galleries is 10 m and the height of the ceilings is often from 5 to 10 m. It lies in two levels but the paintings are seen only in the first one; total length of the painted walls is 300 m. The paintings include painted and graphic depictions of animals and different signs. Besides, there are anthropomorphic figures too, some of them are rather realistic. On the whole there are about 700 depictions on the cave walls. But the traces of prehistoric peoples are not only on the walls of the cave: imprints of children's feet, fragments of charcoal, the remains of a deer shoulder- blade and three silicic tools: a burin, a lamp and a shaped stone. All these finds may be dated to the Upper Palaeolithic. A small number of finds and other traces, left by a man on the cave floor testifies to the that it was not intended for a long inhabitation and was visited rather seldom, only in connection with some ritual actions.

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On a hill at the entrance in the cave there is Amedee Lemozi Museum, founded by Abbot Lemozi in 1934. At that time the museum was in Cabrera township, 2,5km from Pech Merle in a middle-aged castle, belonging to M.Lebaudi, a patron of the arts, who had helped to organized the museum. In 1964 the owner sold the castle and handed the museum collections as a gift the Cabrera commune for a new museum. But only in 17 years, on the 5th of April 1981, the new building, built according to the modern constructivism project, was opened. The museum collections completely reflect the ancient man's activity, his everyday life, his attitude towards death and creative work. Exhibition halls ran around a small, comfortable video-hall, where one can see films, video and slide-popular-science programs. A special staircase near the museum leads to the cave. Together with the cave the museum made The Center on studying of prehistoric culture Pech Merle. Michel Lorblanchet, a prominent specialist in prehistoric art, is a scientific curator of the museum and of the cave. Similar centers, combining successful presentation in a museum of a real prehistoric monument and a highly professional scientific organization are still rare both in Europe and in the world. One can remember a small but wonderful museum at Altamira cave, reserve Mont-Bego in the vallee de Merveiiles in the south of France, Val Camonica in the north of Italy and few other places. Connecting a prehistoric art monument and a museum of such level allows to solve two tasks at once: the stuff lives and works close to the monument and the visitors of the museum can vividly imagine the life of an ancient man in its full variety.

Mammoth's depictions can be considered an indisputable proof of their belonging to the Upper Palaeolithic. But they are found not in every cave. For example, there are no mammoth's depictions in Altamira and that was one of the reasons for the disputes about the age of the paintings. In Pech Merle, apart from the depiction of a mammoth, we now have the radiocarbon dating (23610 350; 22750 390; 25120 390; 19300 270) which testifies to the age of the paintings and to the fact that sometimes two depictions are separated with a long time gap.

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"Spotted horses" is one of the most popular frescoes from Pech Merle, published many times. Above the horses and in front of the left horse there are hand stencils made by splitting the pigment, "sufflage" as the Frenchmen call it. The easiest way to do it is to take liquid pigment into the mouth and to blow as sometimes women do while ironing the linen. The pigment is black. The analysis showed that the black pigment was made either from charcoal or from grinded lumps of manganese oxide. There will be no harm from taking pigment made from coal into the mouth. But manganese oxide could cause death. It gives grounds to think of a ritual with a possible fatal outcome.

FRANTA COSQUER
The Cosquer cave is located in the Ardeche department, on the Mediterranean coast, close to the mouth of the Rhone river, some miles from Marseilles. In 1985 a professional diver Henri Cosquer discovered a narrow passage some 36 meters under the level of the sea, which led, slightly rising, in the thick layer of the coast sedimentary rocks. He visited the passage several times, but every time he went back, not reaching its end, until in September 1985, he emerged finally into the main chamber about 160 meters from the entrance, full of the calcite draperies, crystals of aragonite and submerged stalagmites. He did not notice any paintings at first and kept his secret to himself, until in summer 1991 he returned to the close exploration of his cave. In July 1991 he saw the first painting- it was a hand stenciled in red on the dry wall of the large chamber. The entire French and European press was interspersed with sensation news.

The answer to the first question (how did the entrance in the cave submerge deep in the water?) is rather simple. The last ice age had ended about 10-9 millenia and melting of the huge glacier began. The level of the World Ocean rose 120 meters high, if compared with the ice age. When the cave was visited by ancient people the entrance in the inclined passage was not under the water but, on the contrary, 80 meters above the sea level and 11 kms from the coast up the mountainside. About 10 millenia ago the epoch of the last glaciation came to an end and melting of huge glaciers started. The level of the World Ocean rose 120 m high in comparison with the Ice Age. At the time when the cave was visited by people the entrance in the inclined passage was not under the sea level but, on the contrary, almost 80m higher the bank level and 11 km from it up on the mountainside. This is an approxomate view of the mountainside; the entrance in the cave before the glacier retreat is marked with a red circle. The second question (how old are the paintings?) was answered soon after their discovery. Counting of the atom number of the radioactive carbon in the painting scrapes showed that the earliest depictions (hand stenciles made with black pigment on the base of charcoal) are almost 13

28000 years old, and the latest ones - almost 18000 years old (depictions of horses, ibex, seals and, probably, penguins, which lived there in the Ice Age).

The creature, represented on this piece of the paintings, arose certain bewilderment among specialists. Some supporters of exotic interpretations even supposed that it is a dinosaur. According to the discussion between Francesco d'Errico from the University of Turin and Joan McDonald from Calgary, published in ANTIQUITY, it can be assumed that it is either a Great Auk, lived in the Mediterranean Sea in those times or a bird of the spices belonging tp penguins.

The horse is one of the most popular personages of the Palaeolithic art. The bison, the mammoth and the horse make the majority in the animal repertroire of the cave paintings. There are 36 equids recognized in the Cosquer cave; all of them attributed to the species of the horse. Unlike the modern horse, the wild one was undersized, short-headed and more massive. Its hair was thicker to survive in the cold climate of the Ice Age. There are many bones of the wild horse on Palaeolithic sites. The horse hunting was obviously less dangerous than the bull hunting and so more preferable. Edouard Piette considered that on some works of art he could make out harnesses or leads. It allowed him to put forward the idea that the horse had been domesticated during the Upper Palaeolithic. Henri Breuil and Emile Cartailhac had demolished that idea but a few years ago it was taken up by Paul Bahn, basing on the particular pattern of teeth wear of Palaeolithic horses. But the most reliable information concerning the horse domestication is still dated to the later period - the Aeneolithic. The Cosquer cave paintings will be studied for a long time. It is impossible to get into the cave without special equipment or being unexperienced in deep-sea swimming. In summer 1992 three 14

divers perished there. After that dramatic incident the entrance in the underwater cave was closed and the passage was fitted with a lifeline. Only some specialists have visited the cave.The French Ministry of Culture set up a special commission to study the Cosquer cave, headed by a prominent specialist in Paleolithic art, General Conservator of the National Heritage, Jean Clottes. At the photo you can see Jean Courtin (at left), an archaeologist and diver, and Henri Cosquer, the discoverer of the cave. Jean Clottes (at left) and Jean Courtin wrote and published the book "La grotte Cosquer" and its english version "The Cave Beneath the Sea" with a great number of marvelous photos by Antoine Chene. La grotte Cosquer est situe dans les Calanques, prs de Marseille, au cap Morgiou. Elle est accessible par un tunnel long de 175 mtres dont l'entre est 37 mtres de fond. Unique au monde, cette grotte sous-marine abrite plusieurs dizaines d'oeuvres peintes et graves il y a environ 27 000 et 19 000 ans.

Srie de mains ngatives sur fond noir


Ce massif stalagmitique, situ prs du grand puits noy porte un groupe de huit mains gauches. Ces mains, aux doigts raccourcis, ressortent sur un fond de charbon de bois pulvris.

27 000 ans avant le present

Mains ngatives doigts incomplets


Le manque de phalanges apparaissant sur les mains dessines a suscit de nombreuses interrogations. S'agit-il de tmoignages de mutilations, de sacrifices rituels , de maladies circulatoires ou de doigts gels ?. Sur ces mains aux doigts incomplets, le pouce est toujours intacts, ce qui limine d'emble l'hypothse de gelures graves ayant entran la ncrose des phalanges. Aucun squelette du Palolithique suprieur retrouv ce jour ne prsente des mains aux phalanges incompltes. L'hypothse la plus probable serait alors que les mains taient dessines avec les doigts replis, signe de reconnaissance ou langage cod, vraisemblablement li la chasse et divers rites, langage silencieux jadis utilis par des peuples chasseurs tels les Bushmen, ou les Aborignes d'Australie.

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27 740 (+-)410 ans avant le present Srie de tracs digitaux Les tracs digitaux sont prsent partout dans la grotte et lis la phase ancienne.

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FRANTA CHAUVET
Is one of the latest and most brilliant sensations, not only inarchaeology, but in human culture in general. It is located in the steep side of a cliff in the gorges of the Ardeche, a tributary of the Rhone river. One of the famous in France natural sights, Pont d'Arc, is situated not far from the cave. Pont d'Arc is a huge arc, cut through a rock by the waters of the Ardeche, which forms a gigantic single-span bridge, 60 ms high.

Speleologist Jean- Marie Chauvet, after whom the cave got its name.

The cave was discovered on the 18th of December 1994 by three speleologists - Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel Deschamps and Christian Hillaire. They had already been experienced in exploration caves; several of them had the traces of a pre-historic man's stay. They had seen the half-covered entrance into an unnamed cave before but it seemed to be of a secondary interest and was not explored. That day when Eliette wriggled into the narrow duck, she saw a big cave 17

about 10 metres below her - the speleologists were certainly above a big gallery! They understood that they must return to the van for the necessary equipment. It was already evening and they even thought of putting the exploration off but still they took a ladder, came back into the cave and climbed down into a wide passage. They moved some dozens metres in the gallery and saw traces of red ochre and a depiction of a mammoth and other beasts - a new monument of palaeolithic paintings was before them!

A complete study of the cave will take several decades. There is a succession of four big "vestibules" with about or more than 300 paintings. They are in a remarkable state of preservation. At present the paintings are the oldest known on the Earth (about 32 millenia). Even the first investigations shook the established notions concerning the art of the Upper Palaeolithic period and pushed its beginning almost 5 millenia to the back. Chauvet cave is described in many scientific articles, not mentioning sensational materials in mass media, a large artistic album is published and translated into the main european languages.

ANGLIA
Britain's 'earliest' prehistoric cave art By Dr David Whitehouse BBC News Online science editor It consists of 12,000-year-old engravings of birds and an ibex carved into the stone walls at Creswell Crags, Derbyshire. The identification was made by Paul Bahn and Paul Pettitt, with Spanish colleague Sergio Ripoll. They report their findings in the journal Antiquity. There are fine examples of cave art in France and Spain but none has been found in the UK until now. The British art is less impressive than the paintings found in continental caves. It is also substantially younger.

Enhanced view: This image traces the outline of the ibex

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Continental style It is thought modern humans appeared in Europe around 45,000 years ago. Over a time span of about 15,000 years, they replaced the continent's then occupants, the Neanderthals. The newcomers produced some remarkable works. The best of these are the stampeding horses and charging bulls painted at Lascaux and Chauvet in France, and at Altamira in Spain.

and a normal view: The art is partially obscured by 1940s graffiti It is surprising that Palaeolithic cave art has not been identified in the UK before now because the British Isles was linked to the continent during this time and known to have been inhabited. However, experts believe that most cave paintings would have been destroyed in Britain's damp climate. The researchers examined the Creswell Crags because of previous Stone Age discoveries at that location. In the 19th Century a 12,000-year-old bone needle was found there. Bahn, Pettitt and Ripoll say the engravings are of a style similar to the cave art of France and Spain. Of the two birds carved on the wall of the cave, one might be a crane or swan, the other a bird of prey. The other engraving could be an ibex, an animal not thought to have existed in Britain.

ROMANIA
de Marin Carciumaru La o suta de ani de la descoperirea celebrului plafon policrom de la Altamira, arheologia romneasca avea sa sarbatoreasca evenimentul prin descoperirea picturilor rupestre din pestera Cuciulat (jud. Salaj, pe DN 1 H, Dej-Jibou, pna n satul Cuciulat; C.F.R. 400 pna la halta Cuciulat; la cteva sute de metri de halta, n fosta cariera de exploatare a calcarului). Pestera Cuciulat era cunoscuta de localnici nca nainte de primul razboi mondial, cnd ncepe aici exploatarea calcarului, prin efectuarea unor explozii chiar pe frontul pesterii. Exploatarea intensiva a calcarului din ultimele decenii avea sa distruga cel putin cteva sute de metri de galerii din prima parte a ei, intrarea n pestera fiind, de altfel, mereu obturata din cauza exploziilor repetate din cariera. n aceste conditii, pestera a fost practic redescoperita n anul 1978, de o echipa de speologi amatori din cadrul Clubului "Emil Racovita", de pe lnga Casa de Cultura a Studentilor "Grigore Preoteasa" din Bucuresti. Cu ocazia acestei prime cercetari, membrii expeditiei (echipa de explorare speologica era alcatuita din A. Done, F. Cucu, T. Vadeanu, M. Codrescu si Simona Manolescu) au observat, ntr-una din galeriile pesterii, silueta unui cal, desenata pe o cornisa a plafonului. Poate fara sa realizeze imediat implicatiile descoperirii lor, speologii amatori au avut inspiratia fericita sa faca o prima fotografie micutului calut, ceea ce dovedeste ca, de fapt, nu le-a scapat ntru totul sensul desenului respectiv, n eventualitatea n care s-ar fi dovedit autenticitatea si vechimea lui. Diapozitivul n cauza ne-a fost oferit pentru observatii de coordonatorul tehnic al clubului, ing. V. Giurgiu La nceputul anului urmator, pe data de 30 martie 1979, aveam sa patrundem n pestera n conditii extrem de grele, din cauza unui pachet gros de ml care acoperise complet asa-zisa intrare. Mi se alaturasera n aceasta tentativa doi dintre membrii aceluiasi club de speologie, A. 19

Muraru si A. Done. n urma unor eforturi mari, sub o ploaie marunta si deasa, am reusit sa cream un tunel de acces n acest pachet gros de ml si printre imensii bolovani rezultati din exploziile din cariera, consolidati acum de argila moale. Tot acest sector de la intrare era, n aceste conditii, un drum cotit, asemanator unci cochilii de melc, care ne strngea ca ntr-un adevarat corset. Odata depasit acest sector, am ajuns ntr-o galerie destul de nalta, de circa 2 m, si cu o latime ce, n primii 15 m, variaza ntre 1,5 si 2 m. Urmeaza apoi o sala larga, cu podeaua n forma de plnie spre un put care face legatura cu una din galeriile inferioare ale pesterii. Sala are o lungime de aproximativ 10 m si este fragmentata de o serie de bolovani rezultati din prabusire. Dupa circa 25 m, n care galeria se ngusteaza din nou si tavanul coboara adesea la mai putin de 1,5 m, apare o noua salita, care, chiar daca nu are dimensiunile precedentei, prezinta o importanta deosebita, gentru ca n ea sunt concentrate picturile rupestre. De la aceasta salita, galeria continua nca circa 30 m, de-a lungul unui parcurs destul de anevoios, dupa care se nfunda. Dimensiunile salii cu picturi sunt modeste: 3,70 m lungime si 2,50 m latime. Delimitarea ei n cadrul galeriei se face mai mult prin coborrea usoara a plafonului, ceea ce imprima spatiului respectiv o oarecare autonomie. Totodata, aceasta cornisa a plafonului te obliga, n momentul n care doresti sa patrunzi n salita, sa nclini corpul n fata. Odata depasit nsa acest obstacol, instinctiv ridici capul. Surpriza este extrem de mare pentru ca, n acel moment, apare silueta unui cal, pictata pe o suprafata astfel aleasa, pentru ca privirea sa cada aproape perpendincular si n acest fel imaginea sa poata fi observata n toata plenitudinea ei. Redat monocrom, cu culoarea rosie caramizie, fara nici un contur incizat sau nuantat cu tenta de culoare mai aceentuata, calul din pestera Cuciulat nu depaseste n lungime 24,5 cm si 12,5 cm naltime. De la nceput frapeaza stilul naturalist al reprezentarii, realismul si n parte miscarea n care este surprins calul, sugernd parca oprirea sa brusca din alergare. Gtul este puternic arcuit, iar picioarele, mai ales cele posterioare, att ct sunt conturate, lasa impresia ca abia s-au oprit din alergare. Atunci, aveam sa descoperim ca silueta calului nu este izolata, fiind nsotita de nenumarate pete de culoare, dintre care se detasa imaginea unei feline, pictata pe plafonul ncaperii, spre mijlocul acesteia. Felina, n raport cu calul, este mai degradata, conturul sau fiind mai greu de urmarit. Totusi, se poate ntrevedea botul scurt, specific felinelor, si ceafa animalului. Urechile, mult mai vizibile, sunt redate att prin culoarea rosie caramizie, ct si cu cte doua incizii n calcar, n scopul de a le da mai multa profunzime si contur. Picioarele anterioare au suferit cel mai puternic de pe urma proceselor de spalare si degradare de-a lungul timpului. Cu toate acestea, cu un minim efort de imaginatie, se poate intui pozitia ntinsa a lor, precum si faptul ca sunt ndepartate unul fata de celalalt. Din acest punct de vedere, ele par n concordanta directa cu jumatatea posterioara, sugernd un animal n atac sau fuga. n imediata apropiere a felinei din pestera Cuciulat, n partea posterioara a ei, se poate ntrezari o mare pata de culoare rosie caramizie, care aminteste, parca, de silueta greoaie a unei fiinte umane. Conturul este foarte estompat, nct autenticitatea ei ramne ndoielnica. naltimea sa ar fi de 51 cm si latimea de ~26 cm. ntr-una din ultimele campanii de cercetare a picturilor de la Cuciulat, am observat, ntr-o nisa situata n partea stnga a salii cu picturi, o figura ce seamana cu o pasare. Dimensiunile ei sunt de 21/14 cm. Este destul de bizara aceasta aparitie, cu att mai mult cu ct pasarile sunt slab reprezentate n arta parietala paleolitica. Oricum, ea se nscrie stilistic n aceeasi nota a realismului artei din aceasta perioada, fiind n deplina concordanta cu reprezentarea calului si a felinei. Destul de incert este capul unui al doilea cal, care, att ct se poate observa, nu iese nici el din canoanele naturalismului artei parietale paleolitice. Alaturi de aceste reprezentari, mai mult sau 20

mai putin clare, n micuta sala de la Cuciulat exista numeroase alte pete de culoare, carora ne-a fost greu sa le mai gasim forma si sensurile initiale. Pestera Cuciulat este deci singura descoperita pna acum n tara noastra care a conservat o pictura n stil naturalist si n maniera realismului paleolitic al artei animaliere specifice acestei perioade. Ea este situata pe valea Somesului, care are, n cadrul Podisului Somesan, rol de hotar ntre o serie de unitati fizico-geografice mai mici. Asa, de exemplu, n regiunea de care ne ocupam, desparte Culmea Prisnelului si Culmea Boiului (din cadrul Platformei Chioarului), situate n nord, de Prispa Prisloapele, din sud. Valea Somesului, o vale larga, adesea cu terase ntinse, cu debit bogat, adunndu-si, prin afluentii ei, apele fie de pe pantele sudice ale Muntilor Rodnei, fie de pe naltimile Apusenilor, a constituit, desigur, o atractie pentru om din cele mai vechi timpuri. Dupa unirea la Dej a Somesului Mare si Somesului Mic, Valea Somesului se transforma, totodata, ntr-o larga poarta de legatura ntre Bazinul Transilvaniei si Cmpia Tisei (din cadrul unitatii mai largi a Cmpiei Panonice). Nu este exclus ca si n preistorie, poate chiar n paleolitic, anumite comunitati umane sa fi pendulat ntre cele doua unitati fizico-geografice - Cmpia Panonica si Podisul Transilvaniei, tocmai de-a lungul acestei importante artere de legatura. Aparitia pesterii Cuciulat este legata de existenta terasei de 75 m a Somesului (terasa a IV-a), considerata a se fi format n pleistocenul vechi. ntr-un rest al acesteia, care se prezinta ca o terasa n roca, mai exact o terasa sculptata n calcare eocene, apa a sapat, de-a lungul miilor de ani, galeriile acestei pesteri; ce mai trziu avea sa serveasca omului ca adapost, loc de manifestare a primelor senzatii si simtaminte artistice si, poate, dupa cum vom vedea, ca lacas cu functiuni mult mai complexe, cu o puternica nuanta spirituala. Asa cum am amintit, pestera Cuciulat a fost puternic afectata de exploatarea calcarului ntr-o cariera foarte extinsa n ultimele decenii. Unul din fronturile de exploatare a calcarului, dezvoltndu-se chiar pe axul pesterii, a distrus cel putin cteva sute de metri de galerii din prima ei parte. Se pare, dupa spusele localnicilor, ca pestera prezenta, n apropierea intrarii, o sala destul de mare, n care nu este exclus sa fi existat o locuire paleolitica, ca n majoritatea pesterilor cu astfel de spatii largi aproape de intrare. Din pacate, asupra acestui aspect nu putem avea nici o certitudine, o imagine initiala a pesterii fiind practic irecuperabila, n masura n care exploziile din cariera nu au lasat nici o speranta, privndu-ne, poate, de cel mai serios argument stiintific, atunci cnd discutam despre cronologia picturilor rupestre din aceasta pestera [...]. Sistemul carstic de la Cuciulat se dezvolta deci pe trei niveluri: galeria fosila (pe care am descris-o si de-a lungul careia se gaseste sala cu picturi), care ramne uscata chiar la cele mai mari inundatii; galeria subfosila, n care nu patrunde apa dect foarte rar; galeria activa, prin care cursul de apa este permanent. Urmele unui vechi ru subteran se observa chiar si n galeria fosila, printre acumularile de pietre si blocurile mari desprinse din plafonul pesterii sesizndu-se cursul sau de altadata. Singurul loc din galeria superioara n care nu mai poate fi observat este n interiorul salii cu picturi. Aici, blocurile de calcar par astfel dispuse, chiar aranjate, pentru a crea o suprafata de calcare cu oarecare stabilitate si, n acelasi timp, prin dispunerea lor pe podea, pentru a da posibilitatea de a ajunge la plafonul pesterii. Daca acesti bolovani nu ar exista n sala cu picturi, un om de statura medie nu ar putea sa ajunga la tavan. Culoarea rosie caramizie a picturilor a fost obtinuta dintr-o argila bogata n oxizi de fier. Un bulgare de argila de acest fel a fost gasit ntre actuala intrare si sala pictata. Vopseaua este bine fixata, aproape pretutindeni acoperita cu o crusta subtire de calcit curat, ceea ce i confera si mai multa stabilitate. Analiza chimica a vopselei, extrasa de pe o bucata de calcar cu o alveolare usoara, gasita pe 21

blocurile care acopera podeaua si care nu este exclus sa fi folosit ca suport al vopselei pentru pictorul paleolitic, a dat rezultate interesante. Paralel, a fost efectuata analiza chimica a bulgarului de argila si a unei bucati de ocru (rosu aprins), descoperita ntr-un strat neolitic din bine cunoscuta statiune de la Cascioarele (jud. Calarasi). Analiza chimica a vopselei din pestera Cuciulat releva continutul mare de Fe2O3 (13,17%), cel care a imprimat picturii, n mod sigur, culoarea rosie caramizie. Nu trebuie sa surprinda procentele ridicate de CaO (30,66%), deoarece vopseaua este ntinsa pe calcar, iar, atunci cnd a fost prelevata proba pentru analiza chimica, implicit s-a colectat si ceva din stratul superficial al calcarului. Mai curioase par a fi pierderile la calcinare (24,40), n care nu este exclus sa fie cuprinse si eventualele substante folosite ca liant al vopselei. n ceea ce priveste argila colectata din galeria fosila, continutul ei n Fe2O3 este aproape dublu (24,33%) n raport cu cel al vopselei; trebuie sa se tina seama nsa ca, n cazul ei, CaO si pierderile la calcinare sunt extrem de scazute si, prin urmare, celelalte elemente se prezinta n procente mai ridicate. Este usor de observat asemanarea procentuala, cel putin n privinta hidroxidului de fier, ntre argila de la Cuciulat si bucata de ocru de la Cascioarele. De altfel, aceasta asemanare este normala, ntruct ocrul este mai apropiat, prin structura sa, de starea naturala a materiei prime. Ocrul probabil ca si schimba compozitia prin folosire, cnd i se adauga diferite ingrediente pentru fixarea pe suprafata care se vopseste.

Adaptare dupa editia de baza: Marin Carciumaru, Marturii ale artei rupestre preistorice n Romnia, Editura Sport-Turism, Bucuresti, 1987. PICTURI PALEOLITICE IN PESTERA CUCIULAT Date: Wednesday, November 12 @ 17:39:47 EET Topic: Descoperiri arheologice Pana relativ de curand predomina parerea ca pe cuprinsul tarii noastre cele mai vechi manifestari ale omului de a impodobi diferite obiecte ar corespunde cronologic noii epoci a pietrei (Neolitic: mileniul VI i.e.n.; - prima jumatate a mileniului III i.e.n). Cat priveste eventualitatea existentei artei picturale pe peretii unor grote, chestiunea nici nu intra in discutie cata vreme nu numai in Romania, ci si in aria mai cuprinzatoare a Peninsulei Balcanice, nu se semnalase o astfel de descoperire arheologica. Se admitea de catre specialisti in materie ca arta rupestra pe continentul european s-a nascut si a evoluat doar in cadrul comunitatilor umane ale epocii vechi a pietrei ce vietuisera in Peninsula Iberica si in sudul teriroriului Frantei, precum si in rasarit la poalele Muntilor Urali. Dar, in anul 1978, o echipa de speologi facand parte din clubul Emil Racovita a patruns in interiorul pesterii numite Grota din cariera Cuciulat, situata in teritoriul apartinator comunei Letca, judetul Salaj. Spre surprinderea speologilor, intr-una dintre galerii, luminile reflectoarelor au expus privirii mai multe imagini pictate pe bolta incaperii subterane. Fireste, ca orice premiera stiintifica de rasunet, anuntarea aflarii intr-o pestera din Carpatii Apuseni a picturilor realizate in culori a starnit nu numai un val de curiozitate ci si de oarecare neincredere. Dar, dupa o serie de cercetari efectuate de diveri eruditi in materie de picturi paleolitice s-a autentificat faptul ca intr-adevar picturile dateaza din epoca straveche a pietrei, fiind create cu aproximativ 10 000 de ani i.e.n. Sala cu picturi, denumita de cercetatorii pesterii Cuciulat Galeria fosila, este o incapere 22

prelunga masurand in lungime 3,7 m, in latime 2,5 m, bolta situandu-se intre limitele de inaltime de 1,7-2 m. Elementul pictural amplasat cel mai la vedere consta din imaginea unui cal in plina miscare, animal redat la dimensiunea de 24,5x12,5 cm. Este realizat prin aplicarea pe stanca calcaroasa a unui material colorant rosu-caramiziu, fara ca imaginea animalului sa fie marcata printr-un contur desenat cu o alta culoare. Cu toate acestea reprezentarea calului apare deosebit de realista, naturalista: gatul puternic arcuit si picioarele din spate puternic incordate sugereaza momentul foarte scurt al unei bruste opriri a calului dupa o vijelioasa alergare. De notat ca figura calului este extrem de bine pastrata. Cea de-a doua imagine, aproape la fel de elegant redata, a fost pictata fara conturarea clara a extremitatilor, folosindu-se aceeasi culoare rosie, infatiseaza un animal apartinator grupului felinelor probabil o pantera de pestera (specie disparuta), pisica salbatica sau ris. Lungimea de aproape 1 m (0,8m) si inaltimea de 0,45 m fac acest animal foarte vizibil pe bolta incaperii. De notat ca si aceasta vietate e redata tot intr-o pozitie de incordare a muschilor, sugerand privitorului ca dfelina e gata sa se arunce asupra unei prazi spre a o prinde si devora. La mica distanta deasupra felinei e pictata o a treia imagina, si anume un corp uman de 0,51m si lat de 0,26m. Spre deosebire de maniera realist-naturalista in care fusesera pictate cele doua vietati (calul si felina) figura umana este redata mult mai schematic: cpul ii este mult impins spre inainte fata de umeri, iar detaliile chipului lipsesc. Cat priveste partea superioara a spatelui e deosebit de curbata incat personajul pare sa fi fost cocosat. Cea de-a patra imagine pictata, situata in partea stanga a salii cu desene, amplasata intr-una din nisele naturale ale boltii, apare ca o pata rosie, de aspect oval, asemanandu-se cu corpul unei pasari al carei penaj este foarte bogat, de-a dreptul abundent. Si acest element pictural precar conservat este pictat tot cu rosu-caramiziu si fara elimitarea neteda a conturului. In aceasta sala cu picturi, cu toate ca nu este si nici n-a fost in vechime strabatuta de firul unei ape, pe podea sunt asezati din loc in loc bolovani de mari dimansiuni (diametrul 0,5-0,7m). Dupa felul amplasarii acestor bolovani pe pardoseala incaperii apare ca verosimila ideea selectarii intentionate a acestor pietre pentru a fi puse din loc in loc facilitand in aceste puncte ca persoane urcate pe respectivii bolovani sa poata atinge tavanul. Probabil ca operatiunea plantarii pietrelor s-a facut in vederea realizarii picturilor aplicate pe bolta situata la inaltimea de peste doi metri fata de podea. De asemenea, din dispunerea acestor bolovani calcarosi se intrevede si o eventuala delimitare a spatiului incaperii prin asezarea la ambele extremitati, acolo unde bolta coboara, a blocurilor supradimensionate, ingustandu-se astfel in mod artificial intrarea si iesirea din spatiul cu picturi. Aceste amenajari din grota picturilor rupestre pledeaza pentru o destinatie aparte a acestui spatiu subteran, aceea de locas de cult. Cat priveste semnificatiile cultual-magice ale reprezentarilor animaliere si ale figurii umane, ele aduc in atentie unul dintre cele mai sensibile aspecte ale evolutiei gandirii umane, si anume o foarte timpurie dovada a preocuparilor omului societatii paleolitice de pe aceste meleaguri de a reda prin desen imagini ale unor vietuitoare din mediul inconjurator, fiinte despre care se credea ca detin puteri supranaturale. Aparitia unor astefl de preocupari artistice puse in slujba unei conceptii ideatice constituie un adevarat sondaj stiintific al istoricului modern in universul gandirii umane din acel foarte indepartat timp. Arta parietala din pesteri este dovada sigura a practicarii unor proceduri magice legate de credinta ca unele dintre vietati detineau resorturi de putere care, bine dirijate de om, ii puteau fi de folos in anumite imprejurari. Or, oficierea unor atari ritualuri considerate hotaratoare pentru existenta comunitatilor tribale, reclama atat prezenta simbolica a animalelor invocate, ceea ce se putea realiza cu relativa usurinta prin procedeul pictarii acestora, cat si desfasurarea ceremonialului intr-un loc de mare intimitate si multa discretie, ferit de vazul si auzul celor neinitiati in tainele magico-religioase. 23

Facand analogie cu pozitiile foarte retrase, ascunse chiar, ale salilor cu picturi rupestre existente in grote din sudul Frantei si din nordul Spaniei in aceste cazuri loturile picturale sunt exclusiv in galerii secundare si pestera Cuciulat prezinta aceasta particularitate. Ca modalitate de amplasare fata de planul general al galeriilor sale ornamentata cu figuri animaliere si fiinte umane se prezinta aproape aidoma cu situatia semnalata in pesteri din sud-vestul european. Aceasta pozitie ascunsa a salii cu picturi de la Cuciulat-Letca a facut ca picturile sa nu fi fost aflate cu multe secole mai inainte, pastrandu-se in bune conditiuni pana in zilele noastre. Extinzand cercetarile arheologice in zona s-a constatat faptul ca pestera pictata din Carpatii Apuseni, din dealul Carierei de la Cuciulat, inaltime denunita de localnici Culmea Prisnelului, este situata intre doua asezari paleolitice: una descoperita la nord de comnuna Letca, in perimetrul satului Busag, comuna Tauti-Magheraus, judetul Maramures, cealalta spre miazazi de Cuciulat, in aria satului Perii Vadului, comuna Ileandra, judetul Salaj. E verosimil ca pestera sa fi fost folosita ca sanctuar de catre locuitorii celor doua statiuni paleolitice mentionate, dupa cum este de admis si ipoteza prezentei unei statiuni paleolitice chiar in pestera din Dealul Prisnelului, anume in acea portiune de la intrare, galerie care a fost dislocata in decursul timpului de catre o exploatare industriala a calcarului, fara ca acel perimetru de galerie sa fi fost vazut de vreun speolog sau un arheolog. Analiza chimica a vopselei intrebuintate pentru pictare in pestera Cuciulat arata ca s-a utilizat ocru bogat in bioxid de fier, material colorant ce a imprimat imaginilor acel rosu-caramiziu. Asemenea argila rosie-ocru se afla din abundenta chiar in podeaua galeriei acestei pesteri, astfel incat cei ce au executat imaginile animaliere si figura umana stilizata n-au avut decat sa prepare prin adaos de ingrediente constand din ulei vegetal si praf de calcar, ambele materii servind ca liant al culorii, vopseaua necesara executarii imaginilor. Cat priveste importanta stiintifica a acestei descoperiri, ea este cu totul remarcabila nu numai pentru istoria noastra straveche ci si pentru istoria universala. Pana la cunoasterea acestei grote pictate de pe valea Somesului atat Europa Centrala cat si cea sud-estica erau considerate in privinta artei picturale paleolitice drept zone albe . Intre gruparea de pesteri pictate din aria Spania-Franta si obiectivul arheologico-speologic similar existent in Urali, pestera Kopova, nu se intrevedea nici o legatura, astfel incat grota cu picturi din masivul montan ce constituie granita naturala dntre Europa si Asia era privita de unii specialisti cu oarecare susceptibilitate in privinta autenticitatii imaginilor,datorita extremei sale departari teritoriale fata de nucleul sudvest european al picturilor rupestre. Actualmente un asemenea mod de apreciere a lucrurilor nu isi mentine valabilitatea deoarece pestrea pictata din tara noastra se inscrie ca un pilon de legatura intre cele doua zone atat de indepartate, atestand un mobilism si dinamism de populatie si vehiculari culturale pe ample spatii geografice. Totodata picturile cu ocru de la Cuciulat, pe langa faptul ca sunt unicat pe teritoriul tarii noastre, ele au aceeasi importanta singulara si pentru partea centrala a continentului european, reprezentand o contributie cu totul remarcabila la imbogatirea tezaurului culturii material-spirituale a umanitatii, dovedind ca zorii artei picturale in spatiul carpato-danubiano-pontic s-au ivit in urma cu peste douasprezece mii de ani. Desi singulara, deocamdata, arta picturala animaliera si antropomorfa din cadrul pesterii Cuciulat reprezinta un moment jalonator in cunoasterea genezei si evolutiei preocuparilor artistice ale omului epocii stravechi, situand teritoriul Romaniei in acea arie a continentului in care s-au petrecut importante etape ale procesului de tranzitie a societati de la Paleolitic la Neolitic, inclusiv in domeniul atat de gingas al cultelor magico-religioase de a caror practici era dependenta arta straveche. Astfel, preocuparile omului pentru realizarea unor reprezentari grafice, concretizate in Paleoliticul din tara noastra prin picturile rupestre din galeria de la Cuciulat, pot fi considerate drept un antecesor al artei din perioada de tranzitie spre noua epoca a pietrei, arta ale carei manifestari concrete au fost puse in lumina prin sapaturile arheologice intreprinse in Clisura unarii, vestigii constand din incizii geometrice aplicate pe placute de os si pe fragmente de coarne de cerb. 24

Prin complexitatea problemeticii stiintifice a picturilor rupestre de la Cuciulat, aceste veritabile comori de arta straveche, unicate la noi in tara pana la stadiul actual al cercetarilor in acest domeniu, vor ramane inca multa vreme ca punct central de studiere atat pentru specialistii romani cat si straini. Imaginile pictate pe bolta grotei din Apusni, de un izbitor realism creativ inspirat din mediul natural in mijlocul caruia vietuise anonimul artist, apartin fondului de aur al valorilor artistice perene ale intregii umanitati. In perioada 27-29.01.1995 in Pestera Lii de la Cuciulat (jud. Salaj) s-a organizat o tentativa de scufundare, pentru depasirea terminusului de atunci al pesterii. Participantii: Mihai Baciu (G.E.S.S.), Eugen Constantinescu si Robert Gergely (Montana). Tentativa a esuat din cauza viiturilor. Pestera are o dezvoltare actuala de 1317 m si o denivelare de 29 m (-2:+27).

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PICTURA VECHE DE 14.386 DE ANI !!! IN JUDETUL SALAJ. Doua localitati - Cuciulat si Moigrad - plaseaza judetul in topul "zonelor de maxim interes". La Cuciulat, o localitate de pe malul Somesului, intr-o pestera dintr-o zona de exploatare a pietrei de calcar, au fost descoperite picturi rupestre, datand de 12.000 de ani. Ele reprezinta cele mai vechi picturi ale genului din aceasta parte a Europei, provenind din perioada paleoliticului superior. La Moigrad a fost gasit cel mai mare tezaur de aur masiv de pe teritoriul Romaniei, in greutate de 780 g, apatinand perioadei noelitice, cu idoli antropomorfi, simboluri ale fertilitatii. Tot aici se afla o importanta asezare dacica (Porolissum), situata pe magura Moigradului, asezare pomenita de Ptolemeu in lucrarea sa Geographia.

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