Aurignacian culture

Aurignacian culture


Cave painting of a bull and a horse; in Lascaux Grotto, near Montignac, France.—Hans Hinz, Basel

Stone-tool industry and artistic tradition of Upper Paleolithic Europe, named after the village of Aurignac in southern France where the tradition was first identified. The Aurignacian period dates to 35,000–15,000 BC. Its tools included scrapers, burins (which made the engraving possible), and blades. Points and awls were fashioned from bones and antlers. Aurignacian art represents the first complete artistic tradition, moving from simple engravings of animal forms on small rocks to finer pieces of carved bone and ivory to highly stylized clay figurines of pregnant women (the so-called “Venus figures,” presumably fertility figures). By the end of the Aurignacian, hundreds of engravings, reliefs, and paintings had been executed on the walls and ceilings of limestone caves in western Europe, most famously Lascaux Grotto.

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