How did those belonging to the prehistoric period portray the human figure?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Prehistoric depictions of the human form varied dramatically over time and from place to place. In the famous cave paintings in western Europe which date from as early as 30,000 BCE, for example, representations of actual human bodies were relatively rare, with the exception of outlines of the painters' hands. This may be due to cultural taboos against portraying human images. On the other hand, northern European sculptors working over 40,000 years ago depicted the female form in voluptuous "Venus" figurines, largely abstract representations of women that included very large breasts and hips. Among ancient Australians, realistic depictions of people are very common, particularly in rock carvings. Subsaharan African paintings depict men on horseback, while in the Americas, people were often portrayed with animal characteristics. The point is that prehistoric people portrayed the human form in a wide variety of ways, to the point that the only continuity we can point to is the fact that these portrayals were probably related to specific cultural circumstances that colored people's perceptions. 

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