Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday Blogalicious Time

It's Friday, and March is drifting out like a lamb up here in Boston. The sun is shining. It must have been in the 70's. We had people all over the Common and the Public Gardens today. They made music and sunbathed, picnicked and just were glad for the spring weather. Lovely! I had cut a big armful of forsythia with buds and brought them into the library earlier in the week. We have them scattered around in vases and they are breaking into yellow blooms.

So, it's very hard to want to blog about serious subjects, although the news is just crammed with them. Let's take a break, and relax. I thought I'd take a little mind trip to France, in a happier state than it exists right now -- no labor unrest. Though it sounds as though the French know how to pace themselves rather nicely on the barricades -- you read about students going home after several months for a weekend at home to do the laundry and celebrate a birthday and chill. I can't help but think they are all going to live longer for it.

Anyway, back to the blog-trip du jour. First, let's visit a terrific French cave that is filled with prehistoric art: La grotte Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc. The website is sponsored by the French government here. The website gives the viewer a handy choice of French, English or Spanish. The cave itself is located in south-eastern France, in a mountain valley between the border with Spain and the beginnning of the Mediterranean coast. It is a more-recently discovered cave, full of beautiful cave paintings that extend startlingly far into the winding cavern. There is a map of the cave with color-coded dots that correspond to photographs of both archeological and geological items of interest. Very beautiful.

The website explains that the cave paintings are dated to 32,000 - 30,000 before the present day (BP). The discovery of the cave sent a shockwave through the archeology community because the paintings included such a wide variety of animals, including not just the prey animals usually found, but many fierce animals such as bears and lions. The animals were drawn in 3-D and shading which was very sophisticated. The cave site is considered a fairly un-sophisticated group of people the Aurignacians, who used neither bow and arrows nor atlatl throwing sticks. They did not use sewing needles either. So the artistry and the range of animals was particularly puzzling. I include several examples to illustrate this blog entry. There is an orange bear's head, a charcoal black image of rhinoceroses facing each other, with horses in the background, and a magnificent drawing of lions' heads which shows the shading which so astounded the archeologists.

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