Surprise Discovery Of Magdalenian Mega-Art On The Aix Mountain: Majestic Open Secret Of The Lost Civilization (cont.)
By William Glyn-Jones
The Magdalenians Were Advanced Sculptors
The cave paintings are famous, and some of the free-standing Magdalenian statuettes have also attracted attention, with good reason. In fact, some of them are stunning. On the left here is the top of a spear-thrower, with the cheeky design of an ibex (a type of goat) turning its head to view a couple of birds perched on its emerging excreta. It tells a story that was surely part of a bigger narrative. These people specialized in 3D as well as 2D representations, and we can only imagine what complex narratives they wove around their fires.
It is easier to see the light geometry of inanimate objects...because life-forms are always moving... Subtle fields are easier to see by glimpsing them with peripheral vision when they are stationary. -
The Magdalenians Sculpted Animal Forms in the Faces of Limestone Cliffs
I knew about the paintings and soon after looking further into the Magdalenian culture I came across their free-standing sculptures, but their sculpted reliefs on open limestone cliffs long remained hidden from my awareness. This part of their work is, I feel, highly significant, and it busts the myth that the only remains of their culture are to be found in long-sealed off underground caverns.
In Cap Blanc, in the same region as the amazing Lascaux caves, i.e. the Dordogne, there is a limestone cliff onto which were carved images of horses, bison and reindeer, around 15,000 years ago. Some of these carvings are as much as two metres long, and the total amount of sculpting work at Cap Blanc is considerable, and particularly impressive when you bear in mind the tools they were using. When the area was first excavated several typical Magdalenian tools were found, along with large stone objects which archaeologists are confident were of the type that had been used to carve these figures out of the rock. Clearly they were sufficiently committed to their artwork to labour for long hours to produce these animal reliefs in the rocky cliff-face, and they knew how to do so with precision.
Magdalenian horse sculpted into a limestone cliff at Cap Blanc, France
There is a Magdalenian Cave in the South Face of Sainte-Victoire
I once read in a local guide book that there is a cave up in the side of Sainte-Victoire which "shows evidence of Magdalenian cultic ritual."For a while I was frustrated while trying to recall where I had read this, but then I obtained more information from reading another book, Sainte-Victoire Cezanne 1990, produced by the Granet museum in Aix in conjunction with one of their exhibitions. From this I have learnt that the cave in question is La Grotte du Petit Chanteur, and that it is located half-way up the southern slope, at an altitude of about 700m, and that it was found to contain flint tools such as burins (stone chisels used for engraving stone and bone) and vestiges of fauna such as ibex and chamois, which a certain G.Onoratini attributes to the Upper Magdalenians, who occupied regions to the west of here but are attested elsewhere this far east into Provence.
Why "cultic ritual" in the lost guide? Well I suppose several hundred metres of precipitous rock face would have been a hell of a long way to climb every time they wanted to pop out to the local epicerie and back. In other words, it's unlikely that they used the cave as a living space. Their activities in this cave must have had some motive beyond the everyday.
So here they were in a cave on the south face of these limestone cliffs with tools used for engraving stone...did they leave here any of their reliefs of animal forms, as at Cap Blanc? Did they find in the form of the mountain any simulacra that they could honour or even enhance?