We are so hooked up on movies today it’s hard to imagine a time when the humanity manage dwithout them. In fact, in 2012 it feels like movies have been around forever. But, history books tell us that the oldest movie dates back to 1888. Discovery presents a report that claims the world’s oldest movies have been discovered in French caves, and date back 30,000 years.
Perhaps movies is a term to complex to describe the discovery made by archaeologist Marc Azéma and artist Florent Rivère in the French cave of Lascaux. It’s better to refer as the paintings on the wall as the world’s oldest animations or moving picture shows. The research has been published in the June edition of “Antiquity”.
Marc Azéma spent over twenty years studying Stone Age artists and their techniques. However the animation techniques Stone Age artists used prevail in his research, and for quite a good reason. According to Azéma, 12 French caves featuring 53 figures show that Stone Age artists wanted to “give life to their images”.
“The majority of cave drawings show animals in action” explained Marc Azéma. “That such animation was intentional is endorsed by the likely use of incised disks as thaumatropes” added the researcher. Thaumatropes were first discovered some 200 years ago by astronomer John Hershel. They are also called a miracle wheel and work by spinning a few images on a disk, thus making the viewer get the illusion of movement.
Marc Azéma and Florent Rivère refer to Paleolithic thaumatropes “as the earliest of the attempts to represent movement that culminated in the invention of the cinematic camera”. But, how did the Stone Age artists create the illusion of movement without specialized technology?
Azéma explains that the paintings discovered in the French caves features animals in different states of motion. For instance, “Lascaux is the cave with the greatest number of cases of split-action movement by superimposition of successive images. Some 20 animals, principally horses, have the head, legs or tail multiplied”.
Basically Stone Age artists were using torches to bring light to their paintings and create the illusion of movement. Moreover, Azéma believes a bone disc found 200 years ago is proof that Stone Age artists discovered the magic wheel way earlier than John Hershel.