Changed Meanings

February 18, 2018
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The prehistoric Lascaux cave paintings, located in northern France near the village of Montignac, are an excellent example of an artwork whose meaning has changed over time. Created about seventeen thousand years ago for or during hunting rituals, the paintings and carvings depict humans, animals, and long forgotten symbols. In some places, figures have been carved many times. Archaeologists speculate that the prehistoric people believed that the cave itself possessed inherent magic and that the depictions on the walls represented different parts of their known world. The layering of images suggests that certain spots had more magic than others and that once utilized, the particular magic of each image was dissipated. Experts believe that the magic was used to bring luck to particular hunts. Now, however, the Lascaux caves offer insights about the past, such as what tools the prehistoric people used, the animals that existed in France at the time, and the ways in which prehistoric people hunted and practiced their rituals.

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