World’s first “animation”: ancient drawings on the stones “came to life” in the light of a fire flame

(ORDO NEWS) — Perhaps the first kind of “animation” appeared not at the end of the 19th century, but much, much earlier.

British researchers analyzed engraved tablets from the Paleolithic period and concluded that the figures depicted on them seemed alive in the flickering light of fires.

Unusual “cartoons” were watched by our ancient ancestors, sitting in front of a fire in a cave

In a study published in the journal PLoS One , scientists looked at one type of Paleolithic art – engraved plaquettes.

These plaquettes are small flat stones that have been found throughout Europe (but were most commonly found in regions from Portugal to Germany). They depict animals, people and abstract symbols.

Previously, archaeologists could not establish their exact purpose.

What did the new study show?

The authors of the new work studied in detail 54 tablets collected in the middle of the 19th century in the south of France during excavations of the Montastryuk rock canopy.

Most of the plaquettes are engraved with images of bison, goats, horses and deer. Some also feature birds, parallel lines, and indeterminate objects.

The largest of the engravings were the size of a sheet of A4 paper, and their thickness reached 3 centimeters. True, most of them were half that size.

It is interesting that all the plaquettes had traces of heating – they were heated after engraving. The analysis showed that each of them was exposed to high temperatures – from 100 to 300 ° C. Consequently, they often lay near a fire or some other source of heat.

Scientists suggest that the tablets were placed next to the fire to create “animation” on them, thanks to the play of light.

The team even tested the hypothesis with an experiment: they created similar plaques and placed them next to a fire to see how the drawings come to life.

For example, images of herds of horses and mountain goats in the movements of the flame became dynamic – the animals began to “run”.

The authors note that signs could be placed next to the fire not only for these purposes. The stones could keep warm, which was important on cold winter days.

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