UFO Conjecture(s)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Time Travel? Or an early evolutionary quirk?

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The History Channel recently aired Werner Herzog’s 2010 documentary The Cave of Forgotten Dreams about the 32,000+ year-old drawings found deep inside.

Information about the cave -- Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc in Southern France – and Herzog’s 3-D film about it can be read at Wikipedia:

I want you look at a few of the drawings found in the cave walls:








And a flute, using diatonic tones because of the placement of the holes on the reed, was found nearby; this too, from 32,000 years ago or so:


As you can see from the images and flute-find, the Neolithic artists were hardly primitive and rather advanced, aesthetically.

One interesting (troubling?) aspect of the drawings and others like it found in other caves is the absence of drawings of plants, fish, or the environment, or the heavens, in this cave particularly -- the drawings made mostly in the deepest recesses of the cave where light was virtually non-existent or seen through minute openings for brief periods of the day.

I find that strange: the artistic lacunae – no flora, no fowl, no marine life, no moon or sun.

Some of you are familiar with Michael Moorcock’s intriguing science fiction novel, Behold the Man, wherein a man travels back in time to the time of Jesus and because of extenuating exigencies assumes the role of Jesus for his last day on Earth.

Moorcock’s man is bereft of modern technology so he has to cope within the time-frame in which he finds himself and with only the tools at  his disposal.

Let’s look at those images from the cave again.

Don’t they bespeak an artist or artist from a time well beyond the Neolithic or Paleolithic eras?

Someone familiar with art and music created images and sounds out of sync with the age in which they found themselves.

Or the artists were part of a creative quirk which was bestowed upon them many years too soon it seems, only to disappear until the time of the Greeks 31,000 years later, give or take.

The film intrigues, and if seen only for its cataloguing of early art renderings, is a must- see for those of you with a yen about early man (and woman).



  • Some interesting ideas there about the lack of plant and fish depictions. I don't know if I shared this before bit it's worth a look, a BBC doc that covers the subject . . .


    I seem to remember one point from Herzog's film was that they figured out it was one guy who did most of the Lascaux paintings. I can only guess the cave had both a special and specific importance.

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Monday, December 31, 2012  

  • In Herzog's cave, Frank, there were paintings on top of earlier paintings, most done at 1000 year intervals.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, December 31, 2012  

  • Our "friend" Zoam Chomsky left a comment with a link to a "Torrent" download of Herzog's documentary, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

    Since we don't like pirated material, believing that artists, film-makers. writers, et al. should be remunerated for their efforts and creations, we won't allow the link.

    But we appreciate Zoam's attempt to enlighten visitors here, even though his means are "illegal."


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, December 31, 2012  

  • Rich: "I find that strange: the artistic lacunae – no flora, no fowl, no marine life, no moon or sun."

    Are there any people?



    By Blogger Don, at Monday, December 31, 2012  

  • No people or entities. Some hand prints.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, December 31, 2012  

  • No people is unsurprising. I cannot recall seeing any natural renderings of people in prehistory, even at sites in which there is evidence the artists were talented, such as this one.

    Sometimes we find stick figures of people, or we assume they are people. Some figures are either "entities" or people dressed in masks and costumes. There are a few candidates for people renderings, but they do not appear to have been authenticated. At least, I haven't seen them in the scholarly books and catalogs.

    It is like that for later prehistoric eras. The animals are different (frogs, birds), but it appears the artists' talents or interests did not extend to people (at least without masks or costumes).

    So, no people rendered naturally like the animals are. That I find strange.



    By Blogger Don, at Tuesday, January 01, 2013  

  • Don:

    That lack of human renderings, as realistic as the animal drawings is, indeed, interesting.

    I don't know if any anthropologist has address that but I'm going to look through my Mircea Eliade tomes today -- which I just found in a packed box from our recent office move.

    It's odd -- the lack of fellow drawings -- unless it had something to do with the aboriginal and primitive tribe mind-set about taking one's soul by capturing their image (drawing then and via photography in modern times).


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 01, 2013  

  • Rich: ...taking one's soul by capturing their image..."

    Individuals didn't know what they looked like until mirrors. All they had until then were reflections in puddles of water. I wonder whether in prehistory anyone would have recognized themselves in a drawing.

    I agree it is a "mind-set", possibly a 'taboo', and apparently a universal one, unless new evidence indicates otherwise.



    By Blogger Don, at Tuesday, January 01, 2013  

  • Don:

    Mircea Eliade in Volume 1 of The History of Religious Ideas: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries, Chapter 1 In the Beginning...Magico-Religious Behavior of the Paleanthropians wrote this:

    "Primitive hunters regard animals as similar to men but endowed with supernatural powers...the souls of the dead (man) can enter animals." [Page 7].

    Earlier he wrote [Page 5] "... what matters is not the anatomico-osteological structure of the Paleanthropians...but their works."

    Eliade provides copious references to his colleagues who, like him, see the shamanic aspects of early art.

    But that doesn't concern me here.

    What I'm citing is the artistic technique(s) of the cave painter(s).

    It is advanced.

    One can attribute the drawings to a "religious-like" obsession when hunting was the primary means of survival and animals took on a sacred quality.

    When agriculture took hold, about 20,000 years after the Cave drawings here, one might find drawings imbuing them with a shamantic quality or sacred reverence.

    The same held for woman, as with the various finds of the Venus statues (Willendorf and Laussel), taking on a goddess patina later in the primitive panoply.

    We could go astray and discuss the shamantic elements of the various cave drawings presented here this past year.

    But. for this particular post, I'm concerned with the painterly aspect of the drawings -- the "modern" techniques of the art, the realistic representation.

    This applies to the flute find also, whereby tones produced were similar to the late Renaissance tonalities, not the Greek or Roman equivalents, which were barbaric by comparison.

    The cultural finds in Herzog's cave are modern, not primitive or paleolithic.

    That's what intrigues.

    But that the artist(s) decided not to represent their companions or other elements of their environment (plants, fish, insects, heavenly artifacts, et cetera) nags.

    Wouldn't the sun and moon be held as sacred as animals, as was the case later on (10,000 B.C.) in Sumeria, and the Middle East?

    The obsession with animals may be shamantic and ritualistic but that is not my point for discussion.

    It, again, is the modernity of the art.

    It's out of place and time. Why?


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 01, 2013  

  • I don't think anyone doubts the artistic quality of the caves, or, for that matter, work in later prehistory. It is not the naturalism or realism I find astonishing, but that the artists didn't draw from life. Very few people can achieve that.

    Moving forward from Chauvot to Lascaux (about 15k years), there are what the experts think might be star charts or calendars; also abstraction and probably symbols. About 5k years later at Trois Freres, there are insects depicted and the famous Sorcerer. Also predators are depicted, big cats and bears.

    I wonder about the hunting magic idea. Often the animals depicted weren't their source of food, and those animals may not be depicted at all.

    I think there is artistic continuity from the early caves right up to just before 'history'. The naturalism or realism gives way (possibly at a time when time hunter-gatherer groups were spending a season or so in sedentary communities) to an imaginative approach. The artists become interested in form, volume, and the symbolic, rather than naturalism. See Gobekli Tepe, or Gimbutas' book, The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe for examples.

    I don't have any theories or interpretations. Not even the experts have enough information for them to be certain.

    The earliest natural depictions of humans appear to be from the skull cults.




    By Blogger Don, at Tuesday, January 01, 2013  

  • The interpretations are all over the place, Don, as you note.

    What grabs me about the Herzog cave is that found flute near by, also; ahead of its time surely.

    The renderings of the animals, compared to the sites you cite (ha) are distinctly better or more real, in an artistic sense.

    That is, aren't merely nice drawings as other cave drawings are.

    They have an artistic ambiance that is unique or preternatural.

    The drawings are like a message: I'm stuck here and replicating what I'm seeing...caught in a time glitch, without any technology.

    (The Moorcock scenario -- farfetched, of course.)

    Or we have in the caves a case of a "mutant" strain of humanity, as defined by Lecomte du Louy in Human Destiny.

    But the artistic "advance" if it was such goes nowhere, until much later in human history.

    The drawings are sacrosanct in a way, saved in the recessive parts of a hidden cave, as if the artist knew what he and his drawings were about....a note to the future that paleolithic man wasn't a dumb brute by any means.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 01, 2013  

  • Rich: "Or we have in the caves a case of a "mutant" strain of humanity..."

    It is the likely possibility. Not because the drawings are natural or realistic alone, but that they are so without subjects "in front of the canvas" to paint. There is no evidence of sketches made at the scene. It looks like they just painted them from memory...not just a 'photographic memory', but one with video, slo-mo, and pause.



    By Blogger Don, at Tuesday, January 01, 2013  

  • Superb observation Don...

    The drawings indeed would have to have been from memory.

    The drawing of two rhinos fighting is almost animated.

    A fascinating, fascinating cave...


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 01, 2013  

  • It would seem this pushes the dating of the arrival of human intelligence back several millennia. But when estimates of when human intelligence began flowering has always been an educated guess based on what's been discovered to date. The timeline of human evolution is a work in progress.

    By Blogger purrlgurrl, at Tuesday, January 01, 2013  

  • Even if it were determined, PG, that these drawings were created in 1 A.D. they'd be too advanced for the time and painting techniques of that era.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 01, 2013  

  • I don't see a mystery here except a reluctance to wrap one's mind around that inversely contemporary human beings are not unlike their forebears who were not so mentally challenged as you presume that they were. Not every artistic endeavor, especially those that had a totemic purpose were encyclopedic, or a cataloging of everything but the kitchen sink. They drew what interested or compelled them in their locality. What is so woo-hoo about this "unacceptable" premise? The Neanderthal buried their dead just as we do, with their favorite things..they were not simply dim witted monkey tribes clubbing each other, just as we are not so far along in evolutionary space. Even then it is not so strange to consider artistic talent arose in some..that in of itself may have been considered a magical gift just as early blacksmiths were, as Eliade has suggested.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, January 02, 2013  

  • To get an idea of what I think is remarkable about Chauvet and similar caves (and why I think the artists were differently enabled), watch youtube videos of Stephen Wiltshire.

    For example




    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, January 02, 2013  

  • Don's video augments his observation about memory.

    Bruce's comment confirms his ongoing belief that primitive mankind was as gifted, intellectually, as modern man is....that we shouldn't be surprised by that.

    Neither Don nor Bruce come to grips with my "argument" that the painterly technique of the cave artist (and the making of the flute found near by) are preternatural for the time.

    Even if early man was as endowed with brain power as ripe as that of us (now), what caused the early beings who drew the paintings noted to use a style that became dormant until the Renaissance or later (in some instances, where modern abstractions and Picasso-like renderings are seen)?

    And how is it that a flute created by a Paleolithic would produce tones that weren't used until the late 16th Century by composers?

    The memory question and the Paleolithic brain-power views are peripheral or irrelevant to the intent of my speculative theses: either the artists were a special breed (likely) or captives from a time-travel experiment gone wrong (unlikely, but not impossible).

    have either of you fellows read the Moorcock story?

    Have you scoured the Eliade material which broaches explanations that have nothing to do with memory or Paleolithic mental abilities?

    Come on guys, try to stay with me on this....


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, January 02, 2013  

  • Rich: "The memory question and the Paleolithic brain-power views are peripheral or irrelevant to the intent of my speculative theses: either the artists were a special breed (likely) or captives from a time-travel experiment gone wrong (unlikely, but not impossible)."

    I'm agreeing with you that they were a "special breed". I don't think the cave paintings have anything in common with Renaissance styles, and that this is not a matter of technique, but of the capacity to visualize, not with the eyes (Renaissance), but in the mind.

    Picasso visited the caves, Lascaux, I think.

    The flute isn't unique. One dated 10k years earlier, according to some is diatonic. The scale was used by the Sumerians and Babylonians, too.

    I've nothing to say about time travel, except I wouldn't mind having a time machine.



    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, January 02, 2013  

  • Don...

    You take me to another question: what happened to this offshoot of humankind -- those with perceptive abilities as evidenced by their art?

    Just as the Neanderthals became "extinct" (apparently), these advanced Paleolithic beings (scattered around the world) just went dormant -- and their perceptive observations and abilities also.

    The brutes prevailed.

    Was it a matter of might over sight?

    Were artistic humans, working in caves, subdued by their brutish fellows or dominant genes that favored strength over esthetics?


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, January 02, 2013  

  • It may have been individuals who had the ability, not the group. The ability is evident in children, as it was with Mr Wiltshire. They were all diagnosed as autistic.

    So, the painters may have been different neurologically, and that may have been true of their shamans (were the painters also the group's shamans?). Groups are generally ambivalent about their shamans, both needing and fearing them. I doubt they would have killed them off, but they might have, of course.

    The dating of European cave occupations may match climatic conditions during an ice age. Chauvet is dated 30-35K years ago, a relatively warm period in the region. The last of the occupations may be dated to around the time (13K years ago) when the cold weather returned (Upper Dryas) for about 1000 years. The onset of the Upper Dryas was very fast, some think only months. The people moved, the caves were lost and timeline-wise, we are at Gobekli Tepe.

    The following, I can't vouch for. I just remember having read about it years ago. At some point in time, I recall it was during the Paleolithic, some human skulls show that for a time our species had a larger capacity than is normal, then or today. Human brain size and skull size are limited by the birth canal, so natural selection would back off larger heads. As well, there is dispute whether Neanderthal remains are evidence of mutations at the end of their era. There is more variety in their remains than in homo sapiens.

    It is possible that the supposed rapid changes in human evolution (and maybe Neanderthals) produced mutations, which may still be part of the human genome.



    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, January 02, 2013  

  • Not "Upper Dryas", but "Younger Dryas". Sorry.



    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, January 02, 2013  

  • To say the stylistic aspects of the cave paintings is preternatural requires a comparison to other then contemporary works of that time and in this regard, you have to ask how common were such endeavors in light of the fact these works are communication presumably before the advent of a written language although there is still a understandable confusion in terms of how far spoken language developed.

    Other examples of art as tool making such as the "jewelry" of that time comes to mind. The creation of clothing. All of which are tools. The samples of same are relatively small. The reindeer culture of Siberia has many similar aspects regarding the spirituality of nature, a regard of appreciation we have largely lost due to being tied in our shoelaces in the human synthetic.

    Yet the amount of effort by the artist to use a location as remote and difficult to preserve his work from the elements shows an intent that is far from primitive. Also all this makes me think of the creation of images in advance of a written language served purposes as a analog of memory. To preserve memory outside of the bounds of the interior biochemistry of the mind.

    The fluidity of the drawings is astonishing as well as the shading but then the medium used to create them lent itself to shading, giving the images more dimensional life, which presumably was easily discovered as a technique.

    In light of the drawings context another aspect is having the free time to pursue these aims which implicates a mastery of other pressing aspects of their survival, and existence. The artists technique was probably developed over time.

    Truly a lost world that does seem preternatural, beautiful and more grounded to life itself rather than 'things"

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, January 03, 2013  

  • I'm impressed by the painterly technique, but Anomalist noted my mention of time travel and wrote that a time traveler would have left words or literate indications rather than hand-prints or drawings of animals to indicate his presence...a good point.

    I'm thinking of the Kilroy insignia used by military guys to show they were somewhere.....not literate but an iconography that worked.

    And supposing my time traveler was a mental defective -- sort of like the autistic gent in Don's video -- and sent back in time by a callous government, military, or scientific agency?

    An illiterate who could only draw to communicate?

    He'd leave, in the cave recessives, pictures -- a la Kilroy -- that he was where he was, for later generations to find.

    A sci-fi-like scenario, surely, but not that far from Moorcock's tale.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, January 03, 2013  

  • I don't buy the argument that these images are too sophisticated for humans to have created 35,000 years ago.

    There are some who would argue that this level of talent is inborn and that as our brains develop our minds short circuit that talent (that is our preconceptions about the world distort our ability to perceive and represent it as it is).

    There's a wonderful book, "Drawing on the Left Side of the Brain", (that's probably now about 30 years out of print), that demonstrated anyone can produce representational art at this level. The mind just needs to be tricked into not getting in the way.

    If that is the case, then art from 35,000 years ago (when presumably human minds were not bogged down in weightier things like updating Tumblr and Foursquare) would be truer to the likeness and spirit of an object represented.

    That they chose these animals to portray speaks to their importance in the lives of this particular local culture. Perhaps they were totemic animals or simply critical sources of dietary protein.

    By Blogger purrlgurrl, at Thursday, January 03, 2013  

  • Bruce: "To say the stylistic aspects of the cave paintings is preternatural requires a comparison to other then contemporary works of that time and in this regard, you have to ask how common were such endeavors in light of the fact these works are communication presumably before the advent of a written language although there is still a understandable confusion in terms of how far spoken language developed."

    We do have artifacts from other regions, and not from caves, in that era. From what I've browsed, they do not have modern features.

    I think Rich is right about the "modern" look of Chauvet (and I would include other caves, as well) art. Painting (and art in the round -- sculpture, etc) became 'symbolic'. After the cave era, naturalistic rendering is rare. This is true of late prehistory and historical art until the Renaissance. What makes Chauvet different from those, and what makes it remarkable to me, is the Renaissance painters employed models (living, miniature stages, and statues) to achieve a natural look, but no models have been found in the caves.

    Early on in Egypt and Mesopotamia, we have examples in art in the round of naturalism, but painting remain 'symbolic'. A painting of a flower would likely have all of its essential features represented, and recognizably accurate to a botanist, but it will not look like the flower in the field. It will be stylized and become a symbol or sign with meaning.

    Combining the botanical detail, which makes the subject identifiable, with the appearance of the flower in the field we see with our eyes is what I mean by 'naturalism'. That's what we are seeing in this cave art. A painting having one without the other is not enough. There are plenty of examples of that.

    It would be very informative is someone with access to Chauvet were to attempt to find the sight-lines, if any. If they exist, then we can be certain the paintings were made with the intention of being viewed. We don't know for certain they were "communication" for an audience of people.

    The pendulum of 'certified' opinion swings back and forth (with wobbles, and there is always a minority report). At the moment it is believed the painters had acquired natural language.

    I'll feel better about it if we found their natural rendering of a person.

    ps Rich, my unvouched for comment above: I've figured out where I got it from. It was from an earlier swing of the pendulum regarding Sapiens and Neanderthal. Not worth the off-topic to clarify now. Ignore, please.



    By Blogger Don, at Thursday, January 03, 2013  

  • PG:

    I have Drawing on the Left Side of the Brain, a wonderful book.

    You've read what paleontologists and anthropologists have written about early man and his "brain-power" I hope -- especially the totemic and shamantic views, many discarded.

    That primitive man may have been innately able to paint and think
    in ways one might consider "modern" is a topic for evolutionary genetics or the original state of mankind before the "Fall" -- a theological take.

    I hope some of you have taken the time to get or read Lecomte du Nouy's Human Destiny.

    It's a must-read for civilized humans....of which there are so few in the UFO community.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, January 03, 2013  

  • Don understands the nuances of the Herzog-presented images of his documented cave.

    It's a missed subtlety to those who are not art aficionados.

    Those of us who are art buffs, get it.

    My argument goes to the whole approach to commentary and critiques of such things, as cave art, psychotic behavior, UFOs and everything else.

    A cavalier observation and responses is de rigueur for UFO sites and sites or blogs that deal with other matters....it's the nature of the internet I'm afraid.

    I apply (wrongfully perhaps) the term "forensic" for a look-see at UFO photography, and, in this instance, cave art.

    Don gets it, but that's about it.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, January 03, 2013  

  • It is 'Right Side' for the title.

    Isn't that the one about drawing what you see, not what you know? If so, then how could the cave painters see their subjects?

    Some dialogue from the movie, The Last Wave, between a modern man and 'primitive' about the dream time:

    What are dreams?

    A dream is the shadow of something real.



    By Blogger Don, at Thursday, January 03, 2013  

  • I think you're right about Right Side/Left Side, Don...I'll rummage through our book piles to see if I can find it.

    Eliade uses the Caravaca-liked word, oneiric about cave art.

    He supposes that some images comes from dream states of the artists, which his colleagues attribute to the use of drug-inducing materials.

    Eliade seems to avoid that supposition.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, January 03, 2013  

  • Rich: "...his colleagues attribute to the use of drug-inducing materials."

    I really doubt the artists took drugs and produced the drawings. One reason being, there weren't any we might know of except possibly Amanita mushrooms, which were (and probably still are) used by Shamans in Siberia. Drugs have lots of 'noise' with the 'signal'. I don't see evidence of it in the cave art.

    Earlier, I couldn't think of the name of another autistic savant who is a better match for the caves than Mr. Wiltshire. A little girl named Nadia. Her drawings are closer to the cave art, being of horses. Example with comparison:


    I haven't read the article. Note, though, her horses, which seem to be from toys, illustrations, and merry-go-rounds, rather then real horses. But her drawings are very similar to the cave art.



    By Blogger Don, at Friday, January 04, 2013  

  • Yes, Don, Eliade discounts the drug-stimulant scenario for cave art and lists a bevy of colleagues who think likewise.

    Your Nadia story merely confirms that our cave artist(s) were very early antecedent painters whom contemporary humans now mimic.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, January 04, 2013  

  • Check this out folks... cave art animation..


    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Monday, January 07, 2013  

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