[book cover]
Journey Through the Ice Age, Paul Bahn & Jean Vertut
1997, University of California Press, cloth, dj
240 pages, 123 color and 10 b/w photos, 37 figures, 2 maps, 2 tables, 9-1/2" x 11-1/2"

From the moment of their discovery, the cave art and art objects left by our Ice-Age ancestors have amazed and enthralled all who have seen them with their sophistication, their versatility, and their sheer primitive beauty. Cave art provides a tantalizing glimpse of our ancient past and forms our most direct link with the beliefs and preoccupations of Paleolithic people - highlighting their acute powers of observations of the animals around them, their astonishing mastery of a wide range of artistic techniques, and their sophisticated adaptation to, and incorporation of, the natural shapes of the walls, the bones, and stones on which they drew. But Paleolithic art is perverse - every new piece of the jigsaw raises fresh questions and casts doubt on the conclusions already reached. And new discoveries are made every year, each more tantalizing than the last.

Authoritative, wide ranging, and using the most advanced analytical techniques in archaeology, Journey Through the Ice Age describes the varied backgrounds of the sites and discusses their enigmas and mysteries. It traces the study of paleolithic art from its origins in the nineteenth century and brings the latest theories to bear on discoveries old and new - including Russian caves (only recently accessible to foreign specialists) as well as those in western Europe. Among the later are the spectacular recent finds at Cosquer, Chauvet, and Covaciella. Dr. Bahn explores not only the sculptures and other portable art objects, but also the cave paintings - many of which can never be accessible to the general public.

Journey Through the Ice Age not only offers an invaluable synthesis of our current state of knowledge about Paleolithic people and the societies in which they lived, but also presents a visual feast of imagery. The text is illustrated with the unsurpassed photography of the late Jean Vertut, whose innovative work in the caves of France and Spain has never before been published on such a scale. These spectacular images are the closest that most of us will ever get to the remarkable art of our ancestors.

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Last update: 26 October 1997