Bradshaw Foundation - Latest News

BRADSHAW FOUNDATION - LATEST NEWS

 

The Secrets of Prehistoric Hand Paintings

12 May 2017
Share on Facebook

A recent article by Marianne Barriaux on seeker.com and AFP - To Unlock the Secrets of Prehistoric Hand Paintings, Experts Catalog Them in 3D - reports on the current archaeological research on Europe's prehistoric painted hands using scans and high-resolution photos.

Hand prints Palaeolithic France Spain Italy

A hand painting from Maltravieso Cave (left) in Cáceres, Spain. Image: Handpas. The entrance to Maltravieso Cave. Image: Mario Modesto.

Archaeologist Hipolito Collado and his team have been working in the Maltravieso Cave in the city of Caceres, western Spain, investigating the 57 hand stencils.

The research raises obvious questions of purpose of this ancestral process: merely to make their mark, or part of a ritual to commune with spirits? And why are some fingers missing? Moreover, it raises the role of women during the Palaeolithic era. 

To begin to address such issues, Collado, head of archaeology for the government of the Extremadura region where Caceres is located, has set out to catalogue all of Europe's prehistoric painted hands, taking scans and high-resolution photos. These are then posted in detailed, 3D format in a free-to-use online database, as part of an EU-funded project called Handpas.

Chauvet France red hand stencil

A hand stencil in the Chauvet cave, France.

The idea is for researchers anywhere in the world to be able to examine them all in one place without having to visit every cave or gain access to those closed for conservation, in the hope of a greater understanding.

According to Collado, a Spaniard who is also head of the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations, painted hands have been found in 36 caves in Europe - all in France, Spain and Italy. Some also contain animal drawings and fossils but his project focuses only on hands.

 
Article continues below
 

Further afield, hands have also been discovered in South America, Australia and Indonesia, where recent research revealed that a hand silhouette in a cave on Sulawesi island was 40,000 years old - the world's oldest.

Researchers have tried to determine whether the hand prints were male or female. Can scientists determine for certain that all hands in one area were done by women? Collado's colleague Jose Ramon Bello Rodrigo suggests it could point to a matriarchal society.

And why in some cases fingers are missing? Regarding the latter, it is commonly believed they folded some fingers over when painting in some sort of sign language.

Did our Palaeolithic ancestors create the hand prints as a signature? No, suggests Paul Pettitt, professor of Paleolithic Archaeology at Britain's Durham University. His research focuses on where people placed their hands and he found that in some cases, fingers appeared to be deliberately placed over a bump in the wall like they were gripping it. He believes there was a definite purpose.

French prehistorian Jean Clottes believes it may have been a form of shamanism, stating that it is likely that putting paint - what we could call sacred paint - on the rock face introduces a link between the person who does it and the rock face, and therefore with the forces in the rock face.

Collado also interprets some of the hands he has seen as warnings, stating that in the La Garma Cave there is a panel with hands that is next to a big well that would be deadly. These were definitely done to say 'stop'.

Work on documenting painted hands in two Italian caves has also begun.

View more in Hand Paintings:
http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/hands/index.php

Handpas Project:
http://www.handpas.eu/en/

COMMENTS

 
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER
FACEBOOK UPDATES
** Like Page below to receive our articles on Facebook **
LATEST NEWS ARTICLES
 
LATEST ROCK ART
LATEST CAVE PAINTINGS
LATEST PALEOANTHROPOLOGY
01 Nov 2017
LATEST ARCHAEOLOGY
LATEST ANTHROPOLOGY
LATEST WORLD HERITAGE
Bradshaw FoundationAboutiShopBook ReviewSite MapMailing ListDonateFacebookTwitterContact
If you have enjoyed visiting this section of the website please consider adding a link
Bradshaw Foundation © MMXI
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter List of Research Papers Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Join the free Mailing List Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Birnin Kudu Rock Art Center Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Baja California Film Coso Range Talking Stone Film Nevada Oregon Territory Moab, Utah Clovis First Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Ian Wilson Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Avebury Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Introduction Peterborough Petroglyphs Western Canadian Rock Art Writing-On-Stone Wuikinuxv Territory Dinosaur Provincial Park Archive Index Huashan Rock Art Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Rouffignac Cave Portable Art Defining Rock Art Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Preservation & Education Dr. V. S. Wakankar Articles on India Rock Art Contemporary Art Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Scandinavian Rock Art Archive Scandinavian Introduction Alta Rock Art Norway Rock Art in Finland Tanum Rock Art Sweden Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Banksy Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes Other Websites Contact the Foundation