Aurignacian culture


Aurignacian culture
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.

Cave painting of a bull and horse from the late Aurignacian period, in Lascaux Grotto, near ...

Hans Hinz, Basel

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▪ prehistoric technology and art
      toolmaking industry and artistic tradition of Upper Paleolithic Europe that followed the Mousterian industry, was contemporary with the Perigordian, and was succeeded by the Solutrean. The Aurignacian culture was marked by a great diversification and specialization of tools, including the invention of the burin, or engraving tool, that made much of the art possible.

      The Aurignacian differs from other Upper Paleolithic industries mainly in a preponderance of stone flake tools (flake tool) rather than blades. Flakes were retouched to make nosed scrapers, carinate (ridged) scrapers, and end scrapers. Blades and burins were made by the punch technique and came in several sizes. Bones and antlers were made into points and awls by splitting, sawing, and smoothing; split-base and biconical points provide evidence for hafting.

 The art of the Aurignacian culture represents the first complete tradition in the history of art, moving from awkward attempts to a well-developed, mature style. The earliest examples of the small, portable art objects produced during this period are from western Europe and consist of pebbles with very simple engravings of animal forms. Later, animal figures were carved in pieces of bone and ivory. At the same time, a tradition of true sculpture in the round grew up in eastern Europe, with vividly realistic, though simple, clay figurines of animals and highly stylized statuettes of pregnant women, the so-called Venus figures, presumably fertility figures (see photograph—>). In the later part of the Aurignacian Period, a fusion of Eastern sculptural and Western linear traditions occurred in the West, resulting in small carvings of greatly increased naturalism; the engraved details show attempts at foreshortening and shading with cross-hatched lines.

 Cave art was produced almost exclusively in western Europe, where, by the end of the Aurignacian Period, hundreds of paintings, engravings, and reliefs had been executed on the walls, the ceilings, and sometimes the floors of limestone caves. Probably the first paintings are stencilings outlined in colour of actual hands held against the cave walls. The stencilings were succeeded by the development of figural painting. A characteristic feature of these early pictures, which persisted throughout the Aurignacian period, is their “twisted perspective,” which shows, for example, the head of the animal in profile and its horns twisted to a front view. One of the finest examples of Aurignacian art is represented by paintings of animals, such as horses and bulls, on the walls and ceilings of the cave at Lascaux (Lascaux Grotto) (see photograph—>), in southwestern France. These impressive figures, painted in vivid polychrome red, yellow, brown, and black, with solid, closed outlines, show the lively naturalism, close observation of nature, and linear, one-dimensional approach that characterized mature Aurignacian art.
 

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Aurignacian — is the name of a culture of the Upper Palaeolithic located in Europe and southwest Asia. It dates to between 32,000 and 26,000 BC. The name originates from the type site of Aurignac in the Haute Garonne area of France. The Aurignacian culture is… …   Wikipedia

  • culture — /kul cheuhr/, n., v., cultured, culturing. n. 1. the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc. 2. that which is excellent in the arts, manners,… …   Universalium

  • Aurignacian — [ô΄rig nā′shən] adj. [Fr Aurignacien, after Aurignac, village in S France, in whose caves artifacts were discovered] designating or of an Upper Paleolithic culture, characterized by stone tools called burins which were used for carving wood, bone …   English World dictionary

  • culture — Synonyms and related words: Acheulean, Aurignacian, Azilian, Chellean, Eolithic, Neolithic, Paleolithic, Pre Chellean, Solutrean, acculturation, acquired taste, agrarianism, agricultural geology, agriculture, agrology, agronomics, agronomy,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • Aurignacian — [ˌɔ:rɪ njeɪʃ(ə)n, ˌɔ:rɪg neɪ ] adjective Archaeology relating to or denoting the early stages of the Upper Palaeolithic culture in Europe and the Near East, dated to about 34,000–29,000 years ago. Origin early 20th cent.: from Fr. Aurignacien,… …   English new terms dictionary

  • aurignacian — n. & adj. n. a flint culture of the palaeolithic period in Europe following the Mousterian and preceding the Solutrean. adj. of this culture. Etymology: F Aurignacien f. Aurignac in SW France, where remains of it were found …   Useful english dictionary

  • Aurignacian — adjective Etymology: French aurignacien, from Aurignac, France Date: 1909 of or relating to an Upper Paleolithic culture marked by finely made artifacts of stone and bone, paintings, and engravings …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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