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Modern man's first appearance in Europe was 45,000 years ago, the beginning of the upper Paleolithic, so-called because it is the uppermost layer in the archeological dig. Paul Bahn states that some of the greatest masterpieces of portable art date to about 30,000 BC, clearly indicating to him that "they must have been preceded by a long tradition in carving materials which has not survived" (85). This has been called the creative explosion, the arrival of modern man in Europe fully formed (Lewis-Williams 40). Neanderthal man had previously inhabited the continent alone for 200,000 years (middle Paleolithic), years marked by very little change and virtually nothing that could be considered art. By 35,000 BCE Neanderthal was nearly gone. Lewis-Williams believes (190) that Neanderthal had a form of consciousness not only lower than modern man, but it had a different type of consciousness, a consciousness essentially incapable of language, art, and belief in a spirit world. Neanderthal and dogs may dream, he says (191), but they do not remember them, communicate them, and make them a part of the waking life.


Prehistoric Painting: Lascaux - or the Birth of Art, text by Georges Bataille, photos by Hans Hinz, Claudio Emmer. Albert Skira publisher, Switzerland, 1955.

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