Scientist Claims Cave Art Represents Trophies
WHO IS HUNTING FOR TOMORROW
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Addressing the International Council for Conservation's annual conference in Portorose, Solvenia, Dr. Randall Eaton of the United States presented evidence to support his theory that cave art represents trophies of Paleolithic hunters.
Speaking on May 4, Eaton told the delegates from 70 nations that trophy hunting has been extremely important in human evolution. In contemporary hunting societies and among the Cro Magnon hunters of Europe initiation into manhood required killing an animal of certain size to qualify for marriage. Consequently, trophy hunting by males has been favored by natural
selection for thousands of years and also appears to have been common among the
Neanderthals, Eaton said.
An internationally known authority on human behavioral evolution, Eaton claims that the layout of animal figures in the caves corresponds with trophy values with the lowest ranking trophies, deer and chamois, located in the entrance, larger big game animals such as wild horse and bison in the main chamber, dangerous animals - woolly rhinoceros and brown bear in the antechamber, with the highest ranking trophy being the lion, the rarest, most dangerous and most sequestered species. Eaton argued that the animal art speaks of record, not sympathetic hunting magic as has been widely believed for decades.
The art of hunting magic is generic in form and quickly made, unlike the cave art which is highly individualistic and which often required painstaking labor to complete. The existence of clay tablets associated with fully embellished art suggests that the artists first sketched the animal in the field, Eaton said. Eaton said that the art has other features expected of trophies including rotation of the antlers or horns 90 degrees to face the viewer.
He also said that imposition of animal figures with suitable wall space between clusters suggests that individual hunters kept their trophy art separate from one another. There is much reason to believe that the males of Paleolithic European societies obtained status according to their success in hunting, and their achievements were permanently recorded in the art, Eaton said. He added that handprints associated with animal figures represent signatures of the hunters who killed the animals.
Eaton believes that initiation rituals were performed inside the caves as indicated by fossilized footprints of a young man who stood with his back against the cave wall on which is engraved a deer, the young hunter's trophy. Surrounding the young man?re the footprints of several adult males. Eaton's theory was published in Carnivore journal and praised by prominent Harvard biologist, Edward O. Wilson. Eaton added that hunting is an instinct that develops spontaneously in boys around the world. He sa?d, Collecting a trophy was how young men proved themselves worthy as providers.
That urge is still alive in our species and it remains a viable way for boys to acquire authentic self-esteem as well as respect for nature. When asked if trophies are strictly egoic communications, Eaton responded that in hunting societies a trophy also connects the hunter with the spirit of the animal. He feels that the same may be said of contemporary trophy hunters.
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