Author Topic: Stoned-age art  (Read 925 times)

Offline Joe Duxbury

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Stoned-age art
« on: April 12, 2021, 10:43:42 am »
I'm not sure whether 'Cave Science' is the right category for this. Could it be 'Caving in the Media'? Anyway, have any of you seen the recent newspaper articles about Stone Age cave painters deliberately starving themselves of oxygen to bring about hallucinations? The theory, according to a study in the journal 'Time and Mind', is that they 'intentionally induced a state of hypoxia'. Personally, I think it's a load of tosh. The researchers may have discovered that torches decreased levels of oxygen in spaces similar to where cave paintings are found, but did they try painting under these conditions? The cave paintings are so perfect and sophisticated that I don't believe they could have been created while the artist was experiencing 'hallucinations and out-of-the-body experiences'. And there are other contradictions in the newspaper interpretation of the original study, which I must try and get hold of.
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Offline pwhole

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2021, 11:27:10 am »
I agree - a load of tosh. I've experienced hypoxia several times, deliberately and not so deliberately, and it didn't make me hallucinate, just run out of oxygen. Using torches in a confined space and exhaling isn't going to improve matters and I would imagine they'd just die, rather than be inspired to paint - so I suspect they had plenty of air circulation. They were most likely using magic mushrooms, which do make you hallucinate - or at least create 'meaningful imagery'. And in the climate of 10,000 years ago, were plentiful in the Middle East, which wasn't as hot and dry as it is today. Sadly the paper is £35 to download or I'd have a look. There was a lot of work done studying cave paintings in Algeria, where ritual figures were depicting either holding or even being mushrooms, and there's a lot of documentation available:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Samorini

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tassili_n%27Ajjer

http://www.self.gutenberg.org/articles/eng/Hallucinogenic_mushrooms

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ab/Tassili_mushroom_man_Matalem-Amazar.png

Offline AR

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2021, 12:16:53 pm »
There is a paper called "The Signs of All Times" (sorry, can't remember the authors) looking at the imagery in stone age rock art and pointing out correlations with entoptic phenomena, which for the uninitiated are the patterns you see when under the influence of hallucinogens. I'm sure I've got a photocopy of it somewhere...
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Offline pwhole

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Offline AR

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2021, 02:09:39 pm »
Thinking about it, if the oxygen levels in a cave went down and the carbon dioxide levels went up while you were trying to create a painting, I can imagine that the thumping headache from the bad air would take away any creative impulses...
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Online Leclused

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2021, 03:24:28 pm »
I was told that the painters in the stone age did not use torches but lamps with fat and a small wick.

https://www.donsmaps.com/lascauxlamp.html

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Online mrodoc

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2021, 04:29:59 pm »
It would seem that the person who wrote the paper was not medically trained.  Excessive CO2 levels lead to feelings of panic and hypoxia just causes you to lose consciousness so I am not sure how they developed the theory. More likely as others suggest that is was psychoactive compounds including alcohol perhaps from natural fermentation.

Offline Fishes

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2021, 06:21:26 pm »
When I read the title of this thread I assumed you were talking about "land of dope and story" etc in Cumberland cavern.

Offline Joe Duxbury

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2021, 06:45:02 pm »
It would seem that the person who wrote the paper was not medically trained.  Excessive CO2 levels lead to feelings of panic and hypoxia just causes you to lose consciousness so I am not sure how they developed the theory.

The long review in the newspaper Haaretz of the original study said 'Hypoxia makes us hyperventilate; our hearts race and so do our minds. It affects the frontal cortex and the right hemisphere of the brain, areas that may be associated with emotion-driven creativity. Hypoxia may also be accompanied by euphoria and a propensity to misjudgment ... It also ramps up dopamine secretion in the brain, which can cause dreams and hallucinations, sometimes associated with reported out-of-body experiences and sensations of flying or floating, not to mention near-death experiences (that bright-light phenomenon, for instance).' Is all this total rubbish, then? 

Offline pwhole

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2021, 08:46:39 pm »
Yes, it's total rubbish, and yet stated with some apparent authority - a bit like Ian Botham's electric foot-stimulator may improve your circulation - as long as you don't think about Ian Botham while you're using it. "It affects the frontal cortex and the right hemisphere of the brain, areas that may be associated with emotion-driven creativity." Does it now? Well, until you pass out and die creatively. I know it's only a review, but it's written like an ad for super-vitamins for rich old ladies in Monaco. All those sentences are meaningless, disconnected and so deliberately vague as to be almost misleading, and they haven't even taken any drugs. Thank goodness we're talking about stone-age people, frankly, otherwise some young ravers might well feel that Hypoxia is the way forward. Actually, come to mention it...

Online mrodoc

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2021, 10:54:33 pm »
it is not hypoxia that makes you hyperventilate it is an elevated blood carbon dioxide level so whoever wrote the article either didn't read the paper properly or made it all up.

Offline pwhole

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2021, 11:26:05 pm »
The more I think about the practicalities of actually producing a cave-painting, assuming sufficient materials to hand etc., is that burning torches would be a nightmare, not least from the amount of smoke they'd create, even if they had a draught. Smaller lamps burning oil would make perfect sense as they'd be cleaner, long-lasting and enable close-up work for long periods. Assuming a decent painting would take several hours to produce, if not a few separate day-sessions, with potentially a long exit trip afterwards, I would have thought a good spread of lamps would be much easier to create with, and just use the torches (and a clear head) for the actual travel out. Presumably no SRT.

Offline Graigwen

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2021, 11:32:37 pm »
it is not hypoxia that makes you hyperventilate it is an elevated blood carbon dioxide level so whoever wrote the article either didn't read the paper properly or made it all up.

Exactly.

On the only occasion I had to work in an evironment where I depleted oxygen and produced carbon dioxide the effect on my breathing rate was very evident. I did not feel drowsy, but was gasping for air (easily managed by withdrawing for a short while to part of the mine that had a draught between adit mouth and a shaft to day).

On the other hand Aber CC once went into an oxygen poor, carbon dioxide poor atmosphere (i.e. mainly nitrogen) and the first caver fell unconscious without warning.

.

Offline Joe Duxbury

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2021, 11:50:40 pm »
Here you are, you can read the newspaper twaddle for yourselves:
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-archaeologists-crack-mystery-of-cave-paintings-done-in-the-dark-1.9686181
This review has many contradictions, as well as the medical nonsense discussed above. Without the original article it's unrealistic to assume they have been correctly quoted.


Offline pwhole

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2021, 12:08:21 am »
Balls - I read it once quickly and then they locked me out unless I register. But one line stood out, 'without the need to resort to drugs', which seemed a curious distinction to make on behalf of ancient people seeking an altered state of consciousness - especially when lines like 'stoned to the gills' follow it. Confusing. And cannabis traces not being found is hardly proof of anything, as it hadn't made it over to that part of the world then, as far as I know, and was only distributed around western China. Much of the subject of the review makes perfect sense - apart from the hypoxia idea, which doesn't. It seems like a theory in search of corroborative evidence, rather than the other way around. And it seems they then created the evidence on a computer.

Offline Joe Duxbury

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2021, 09:57:33 am »
And ... they then created the evidence on a computer.
Yes, they used computer software used for modelling ventilation of buildings, e.g. 'underground parking lots'. I doubt if you can accurately model a chamber in a cave, which will have many, many cracks and crevices that you don't know about.

Online Leclused

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2021, 11:19:07 am »
The more I think about the practicalities of actually producing a cave-painting, assuming sufficient materials to hand etc., is that burning torches would be a nightmare, not least from the amount of smoke they'd create, even if they had a draught. Smaller lamps burning oil would make perfect sense as they'd be cleaner, long-lasting and enable close-up work for long periods. Assuming a decent painting would take several hours to produce, if not a few separate day-sessions, with potentially a long exit trip afterwards, I would have thought a good spread of lamps would be much easier to create with, and just use the torches (and a clear head) for the actual travel out. Presumably no SRT.

They did use  oil/fat lamps in the stone age : https://www.donsmaps.com/lascauxlamp.html

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Offline mikem

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Re: Stoned-age art
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2021, 12:42:34 pm »
Surely it was the flickering of the flames that suggested the shapes / movement

 

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