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Cave Art

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the cave peoples, human or Neanderthal, who made hand outlines, abstract symbols and multicoloured images of prey animals in the Stone Age.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss ideas about the Stone Age people who created the extraordinary images found in caves around the world, from hand outlines to abstract symbols to the multicoloured paintings of prey animals at Chauvet and, as shown above, at Lascaux. In the 19th Century, it was assumed that only humans could have made these, as Neanderthals would have lacked the skills or imagination, but new tests suggest otherwise. How were the images created, were they meant to be for private viewing or public spaces, and what might their purposes have been? And, if Neanderthals were capable of creative work, in what ways were they different from humans? What might it have been like to experience the paintings, so far from natural light?


Alistair Pike
Professor of Archaeological Sciences at the University of Southampton

Chantal Conneller
Senior Lecturer in Early Pre-History at Newcastle University


Paul Pettitt
Professor of Palaeolithic Archaeology at Durham University

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

48 minutes

Last on

Thu 24 Sep 2020 21:30


Alistair Pike at the University of Southampton

Chantal Conneller at Newcastle University

Paul Pettitt at Durham University

The Paleolithic Cave Art of France by Dr Jean Clottes – Bradshaw Foundation

A virtual tour of Lascaux Cave

A virtual tour of Chauvet Cave

How we discovered that Neanderthals could make art – The Conversation

Neanderthal Origin of Iberian Cave Art - Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton

Bradshaw Foundation

U-Th dating of carbonate crusts reveals Neandertal origin of Iberian cave art - AAAS

Cave painting - Wikipedia


Norbert Aujoulat, The Splendour of Lascaux: Rediscovering the Greatest Treasure of Prehistoric Art (Thames and Hudson, 2005)

Paul G. Bahn, Journey through the Ice Age (W&N, 1997)

Paul G. Bahn, Cave Art: A Guide to the Decorated Ice Age Caves of Europe (Frances Lincoln, 2012)

Paul G. Bahn, Images of the Ice Age (Oxford University Press, 2016)

Jean Clottes, What is Palaeolithic Art?: Cave Paintings and the Dawn of Human Creativity (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

Jean Clottes and David Lewis-Williams, The Shamans of Prehistory: Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves (Harry N. Abrams, 1998)

Bruno David, Cave Art (Thames and Hudson, 2017)

David Lewis-Williams, The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art (Thames and Hudson, 2004)


  • Thu 24 Sep 2020 09:00
  • Thu 24 Sep 2020 21:30

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