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The Identification of the First Paleolithic Animal Sculpture in the Ile-de- France: The Ségognole 3 Bison and its Ramifications
Duncan Caldwell
Fellow — Marine and Paleobiological Research Institute


Dear Mike & Sherry,

I would be grateful if you would post the attached article of mine called "The Identification of the First Palaeolithic Animal Sculpture in the Ile-de-France: The Ségognole 3 Bison and its Ramifications", which was accepted by Dr. Jean Clottes on behalf of the International Federation of Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO) for presentation at the organization's World Congress in September 2010 and publication in its Acts. The paper uses the discovery of the first Paleolithic bas-relief of an animal in northern France to open an investigation into the previously un-noticed complexity of more famous examples of Paleolithic art, including ones from such sites as Font-de-Gaume, Laugerie-Basse and Isturitz. It unveils:

  • the first known use of decomposed, interactive, "cubist" conventions, over 15,000 years ago (pp. 32-37),
  • the intentional hiding of secondary readings within more blatant images (pp. 38-42), and even
  • the oldest known figure-ground illusions, which play upon similarities between the contours of bison and mammoths (pp. 26-27)
-all of which show how complex figurative imagery has been for tens of thousands of years.

The article was the subject of a National Geographic report by Andrew Howley in December 2010, when he wrote about the paper's revelation of the world's oldest known intentional optical illusion - a sculpture from Canecaude that can be read both as a bison and mammoth.

I hope ASAA readers enjoy peering through this window into art's earliest mysteries.

My warmest wishes,

Duncan Caldwell

TO DOWNLOAD FULL PDF: Caldwell_Bison-5_SM.pdf

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