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Arts 2013, 2(4), 476-490; doi:10.3390/arts2040476

The Meaning of the Dots on the Horses of Pech Merle

Professor Rhode Island School of Design, retired, 70 Esplanade, Middletown, RI 02842, USA
Received: 26 September 2013 / Revised: 19 November 2013 / Accepted: 20 November 2013 / Published: 13 December 2013
(This article belongs to the Collection World Rock Art)
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Recent research in the DNA of prehistoric horses has resulted in a new interpretation of the well-known panel of the Spotted horses of Pech Merle. The conclusion that has been popularized by this research is that the artists accurately depicted the animals as they saw them in their environment. It has long been evident that some artists of the European Ice Age caves were able to realize graphic memesis to a remarkable degree. This new study of the genome of ancient horses appears to confirm the artist’s intention of creating the actual appearance of dappled horses. I will question this conclusion as well as the relevance of this study to the art by examining the Spotted horses in the context of the entire panel and the panel in the context of the whole cave. To further enlarge our view, I will consider the use of similar dots and dappling in the rock art of other paleolithic people. The visual effect of dots will be seen in terms of their psychological impact. Discoveries by neuroscientists regarding the effect of such stimuli on human cognition will be mentioned. I will conclude with another possible interpretation of the meaning of the Spotted horses of Pech Merle. View Full-Text
Keywords: Pech Merle; dappled horses; dots; perception; cognition Pech Merle; dappled horses; dots; perception; cognition

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Alpert, B.O. The Meaning of the Dots on the Horses of Pech Merle. Arts 2013, 2, 476-490.

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