Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ancient Animations

   I was fascinated to discover an article in a recent issue of Science News, titled "Stone Age Artists Produced Movies," by Bruce Bower.
   Well, not movies as we know them.  But the Stone Age artists left rudimentary animations on the walls of several European caves. Archaeologist Marc Azema (University of Toulouse-Le Mirail, France), whose work was spotlighted in the Science News article, has created a wonderful animation, showing an interesting collection of them (via YouTube):

Archaeologist Marc Azema has created several films on cave
art animations.

   Azema has been involved in a number of film and animation projects, and has been a presenter at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival as well as other places.
   The Science News article also included photos of a bone disk, engraved on both sides (one shows a standing deer, the other a deer with its legs drawn up under it). Stringing an animal sinew through a hole drilled in the middle and spinning it creates an optical illusion of the deer jumping or lying down (depending on your interpretation).
   This is called a thaumatrope. The idea was re-invented in the 19th century; thaumatropes were popular toys in Victorian times, but not many realized until recently that Stone Age Europeans used them too. 
   I took the images of both sides of the bone disk, using photos printed in my copy of the magazine, glued them to cardboard, and tied them with upholstery thread to simulate the sinew.  It works pretty well.
I hope you can see the images on my homemade thaumatrope, made from photos
originally published in the print version of the Science News  article. 
   A much more recent animation was discovered on a 5,200-year-old Iranian cup--until recently thought to be the world's oldest animation (though it can't compete with Chauvet Cave's 30,000-32,000-year age). I have been unable to get my Blogger interface to let me embed the "jumping wild goat" animation (Go to Major Durant's Photobucket page to see that), but here's a look at the sequence of images on the footed bowl/cup:
Here is the sequence painted along the rim of the 5,200-year-old bowl.
An archaeologist holds the ancient bowl in a CHN photo.
I had a great time looking at these, and I hope you enjoy them, too!

PHOTO CREDITS: Many thanks to Marc Azema for the YouTube video of the cave animations. The photo of M. Azema in his element is from the Annecy International Animated Film Festival's online 2012 archive. My son Ty Gephardt took the photos of my homemade thaumatrope. The images from the rim of the Iranian bowl are from the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies website, and the image of the bowl itself is from T. Lee Harris's "Comments from the Peanut Gallery" blog. My gratitude goes to all! Please go look at their sites for more cool information.

No comments:

Post a Comment