I'm learning about it in my art history class, and while nobody knows for sure why the Paleolithic peoples really painted on the walls there are some interesting theories:
2) They believed the animals they painted had magical properties and brought good luck for the hunt.
3) They used the illustrations to teach hunting apprentices.
4) They believed their ancestors were animals.
5) Certain animals depict men, others depict women.
Which of these theories do you think is most correct? Do you have any theories of your own?
At first I thought maybe they just painted for decoration. But then I think about how there are always reoccuring themes in their work...the same animals are used (larger animals like bison, mammoth, etc), depictions of humans are rare, the scenes are not narrative. If it were solely for decoration, don't you think they would have painted different animals, people, flowers? Wouldn't they illustrate major events they've witnessed? Even my 3 year old does this.
Then I think about theories #2 and #3, and while they seem to be the most obvious reasons...it's been shown that Paleolithic beings did not hunt the animals that they paint the most, they went for smaller creatures like deer.
Theory 4 doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. And neither does #5.
So I'm stumped.