Palaeolithic art adventures with York YAC
York YAC's session started with a background to the ‘Old Stone Age’ or Palaeolithic.
We had a look at what people ate, the tools they used, and the different periods of the Palaeolithic, which are called the Lower-, Middle- and Upper Palaeolithic.
● The Lower Palaeolithic (c. 2.6 million years ago), was when the earliest humans were in Africa
● The Middle Palaeolithic (c. 1.7 million years ago), was when Neanderthals developed Mousterian technology, making the earliest flint tools.
● The Upper Palaeolithic (c. 200,000 years ago until 12,000 years ago), was when we see our earliest modern human ancestors in Europe.
We were even lucky enough to have a couple of the members bring in some flint artefacts! We talked about how to identify that flint had been worked to shape it into tools.
Features that show a flint has been worked. (Images courtesy of Richard Milton, www.stoneagetools.co.uk)
During our break, we tried some berries as a taster of Palaeolithic diet; they were very popular! Afterwards, we learnt about the art of Neanderthals and the Upper Palaeolithic ‘creative explosion’. We talked a little bit about the difficulties archaeologists face in finding and identifying ancient art, before having a go at making some of our own.
Members were brilliant at colouring in Palaeolithic designs and painting some of their own, and many of them decided to use the chalk paints to design their own shell necklaces or decorations. There were lots of amazing ideas from the members and other volunteers!
Have a go!
If anyone wants to have a go at creating Palaeolithic art themselves, ground-up brightly coloured chalk or charcoal mixed with water works well for painting on shells. To make Palaeolithic paint, try mixing pigments (such as ochre) with oil or animal fat.
Check out YAC's cave painting activity for more inspiration.
And if you want even more archaeological arty adventures, YAC HQ are running a fantastic competition to design your own archaeology stamps, based on Royal Mail’s recent release of prehistoric themed stamps.
Blog post by Erica Cooke, York YAC volunteer