Remarkable stories happen all the time. I know I’ve written about this one before, but it continues to amaze me.
Today is the anniversary of the discovery, of the Lascaux Paintings. Yes, it was in 1940, in Dordogne, France. The region is hilly and covered with beautiful forests. I suppose they are considered forests, as I can’t see them for all the trees. Anyway, it was back then, some 80 years ago, when four teens and their dog, Robot, were traipsing through those woods there.
Robot went down a hole. It is my postulation that this was by intention, and not by accident. The teens followed him down. There, the five of them discovered a series of complex caves, and on the walls were more than 600 paintings. Not hung up with frames, and those little hook-gizmos. No. These scenes had been painted directly on the walls some 17,000 years ago. Imagine. Paint that lasted 17,000 years and counting. Ask Sherwin Williams, for sure.
The Earthly timeline of things goes roughly along. Humans came on the scene about 200,000 years ago. So, by 17,000 years ago, we humans had evolved somewhat. Modern humans survived near extinction twice, by that point. But several branches did not survive. The Homo-Erectis (70,000 years ago), Neanderthals (27,000 ya), and Homo-Floresiensis (17,000 ya) had already gone extinct. So, the modern humans, the Homo-Sapiens, were still around to do the artwork. Still hunting and gathering too. No farmers as of yet.
The people who have studied the art say that the paintings represent primarily large animals. Also there were depictions of typical fauna that jives with the fossil records of the Upper Paleolithic time. They say that the drawings are the combined effort of many generations of those cave dwellers.
I just try to think back to what their primitive existence must have been like, and wonder, how, who, and why, they decided to paint. Leave it to the French, I suppose. Even still, this is spectacular to me.
But the best part of the story — I think — is Robot. I found a photo of him. Good boy. Would we have ever known about this unique piece of our human history puzzle, were it not for good Robot? There have been a lot of explorers in our history, but how many of them were actually discoverers?
Again, I suggest here, that dogs have many superior abilities than humans. For instance. A dog’s sense of smell is anywhere between 10,000 and 100,00 times better than humans. They can smell you coming. And, dogs have better ears too. But they have something far greater. They have deep intuition. They’ve been know to detect illnesses in people, to predict natural disasters, and to read human behavior.
And, of course. There is that thing they have about finding ancient caves with prehistoric painting on the walls.
So, today I celebrate human creativity, which has been with us from the very beginning. And, I hug my dogs, in honor of Robot. Those dogs who continue to amaze me with their remarkable skills. Even when they chase their tales around in circles, or bark at blank walls. Who knows. They may be on to something.
“Creativity takes courage. ”
― Henri Matisse
“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking”
― Albert Einstein
“The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.”
― Leonardo da Vinci