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The Development of Western Thought

The Lower Paleolithic, ending with the Mousterian, left no works of art. Consequently, the Upper Paleolithic or Reindeer age, so called because this animal is the characteristic feature of the fauna corresponding to a cold and dry climate analogous to that of the steppes and tundras. (Lewis, 201-45) The Reindeer age commences with the Aurignacian culture and terminates with the Magdalenian. Between the end of the first and the appearance of the second is inserted a period known as the Solutrian, which seems to have existed only in certain regions and to be of but secondary interest from the artistic point of view.
The age of the European Paleolithic civilizations corresponds roughly to the Pleistocene period of the geologists. Although their chronological succession appears to be fixed in an almost definite manner, their absolute dates remain undetermined and have been variously estimated by the authorities. After the most moderate estimates the Aurignacian would be placed at from twenty-five thousand to sixteen thousand years before our era, the Magdalenian at from sixteen thousand to twelve thousand. A certain number of the activities classed among the fine arts probably existed in Paleolithic times. A number of wall paintings have been considered as representing dances. (Halverson, p.3) This interpretation, however, is not conclusive, but the representation of several disguised individuals, by analogy with savages, renders the existence of the dance in the Magdalenian highly probable. The dances once admitted, it is likely that, as among the savages and for psychological reasons, they were accompanied by music, if only that of the voice.
As for musical instruments discovered in the excavations, some tubes of bird bone considered by Piette as the elements of the pipes of Pan are more probably needle cases. Perhaps one could see a primitive flute in the bone of a hare perforated with several holes, found in an English Paleolithic cavern. In several stations, a number of the phalanges of the antelopidae or cervidae, notably of the reindeer, have been found pierced near their extremities. These are currently considered as whistles comparable to those made by our children with apricot seeds. Their use as whistles is not impossible, but in some of them, notably the most ancient, dating back to the Mousterian levels, the hole is not produced by manual work but by the teeth of carnivorous animals.
As to architecture, it is probable that the Paleolithic peoples inhabited, besides the rock shelters and caves where their hearth levels have been found, wattle huts which appear to be represented by figures called "tectiforms," engraved or painted on the walls of caverns. Another form of art, personal decoration, was highly developed among the Paleolithic peoples, as among the savages, to say nothing of the civilized races. Whatever the differences in nature or technique, the works of Paleolithic art form on the whole a homogeneous ensemble. Different culture levels of the same station have yielded almost

The Development of Western Thought