Prehistoric Animated Cave Drawings Discovered In France


News out of France concerning Prehistoric cave drawings that were animated by torch-light is taking the art history world by storm, and has overwhelmed this artist to the point of awe.

The cave drawings were found by archaeologist Marc Azema and French artist Florent Rivere, who suggest that Paleolithic artists who lived as long as 30,000 years ago used animation effects on cave walls, which explains the multiple heads and limbs on animals in the drawings. The images look superimposed until flickering torch-light is passed over them, giving them movement and creating a brief animation.

“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,” Azéma said.

Azema and other archaeologists have found small disks called thaumatropes which were carved from bone in Paleolithic times and acted as a crude, mini movie camera by tricking the eye. Azema thinks these artists used similar tools to create the drawings, which give us a glimpse at the first origins of what we know as cinema…and they did it well before those credited with the invention in the 19th century.

Written By: Amanda Crum
continue to source article at


  1. Interesting but I’m a bit skeptical. It reminds me of how I used to draw movement on horses legs when I was a kid. I did it in very much the same way. That also goes for the wagging tail of the ox. I didn’t have real animation in mind when I drew it back then.
    I have to admit though that I was amazed at first. Early humans making predecessors of movies. But after seeing the whole film I lost the magic and became skeptical. But please don’t get me wrong, I am convinced that the humans living 30,000 years ago were just as smart as us and given the right tools would have been able to make a movie or built a moon rocket for that  matter.

  2.   …… … … 30,000 years ago used animation effects on cave walls,

    They seem to have captured some realistic action too, as one would expect from hunters who were really familiar with prey species.

  3. This is complete bullocks, those scientists really have nothing smarter to do! I would recommend them some sightseeing for now.

  4. One of things that I find amazing is these cave paintings lasted tens of thousands of years, but if you get your house painted with the latest technology, you are lucky if the paint lasts a decade.

    They must have done some experimenting to find extremely durable pigments.

  5. Picasso did drawings like this too e.g. Nude Descending Stair.   Unless you have a way to show one image at a time, you cannot show the animation literally.

  6. They might not have been trying to create animation as we know it, but before written language they had to have a way of describing and representing movements.

  7. Yes, same concept. I’ve done this with my drawings, quite common, actually. Moving on to the next step of motion from the same drawing of a single corps position is normal. Hard to say if this was the intended effect. I know it isn’t for any of my drawings.

    Small douche note: Marcel Duchamp did Nude Descending Stairs.

  8. I agree with that. It could have been an instructive thing, who knows. I’m always impressed by the accuracy of the drawings. Pretty often they accurately depict the shape of the animal, which tells me that they were good observers.

  9. Most of the paintings were far back in the cave systems so not prone to the erosion that those nearer the mouths underwent. Lascaux was closed to visitors many years ago because the pollutants bought into the caves by people (CO2, bacteria, etc.) caused more erosion in a few tens of years than nature managed in 30 000.

  10. Are there somewhere pictures of those prehistoric thaumatropes and do they represent actions? Then it would be rather convincing that they had some knowledge of animation.

  11. This would be wonderful if true.  Couple of problems, I could imagine the effect with touches working if they had multifaceted walls and drew only on one facet per drawing so as the torch moved it captured light from only one angle.  The other problem seems looking at the you tube video that the motions of galloping are very accurate.  I’m sure they were as good observers of nature but modern artists argued for years for example over how horses galloped which is why before the invention of high speed cameras horses galloping were often painted with both front legs pointing out front and hind legs pointed straight back.  The other possibility is  that they weren’t trying to achieve actual animation but where superimposing multiple images to show movement. This is a common technique for showing movement in still images.

  12. Did they actually speak to any artists before they made their assumptions? The layered effect could be their standard technique for showing an animal in motion but not animation; whereas, a non layered animal would be an animal at rest.

  13.  Thanks aquilacane you beat me to it. Marcel Duchamp — this used to be my favorite painting.

    Yes, I’m skeptical. Maybe the artist  wanted to make a change and the eraser wasn’t invented yet or the artist didn’t want to waste the water. (Just kidding, I think.)

  14. They’ll be telling us next that Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man was doing star jumps.

Leave a Reply