prehistoric cave paintings

Altered consciousness inspired prehistoric cave paintings


  • A team of Israeli scientists discovered that prehistoric cave paintings were motivated by hypoxia or lack of oxygen in the brain.
  • They ran simulations in caves to prove this point.
  • The reduced oxygen would have put them in a state of altered consciousness, euphoria, and hallucinations, resulting in interesting art that still amazes the modern world today.

Caves are considered to be both an asylum for survival and a sanctuary of art for prehistoric men, dating back to as many as thousands of years ago. But the question remains, why did prehistoric cave men actually draw paintings in caves?

Scientists from Israel discovered that these Paleolithic rock paintings were ingeniously motivated by hallucinations caused by a lack of oxygen flow in the brain.

According to a published journal, “Time and Mind: The Journal of Archeology, Consciousness and Culture,” the Israeli authors argued that “hypoxia might indeed be a plausible trigger for the creation of cave depictions, causing all these creative juices flowing.”

In order to prove this argument, researchers ran computer simulations of oxygen levels in caves of France and Spain. The study suggested that prehistoric cavemen expressed their creativity best in narrow tunnels approximately 660 feet from the entrance. Within about 15 minutes, they would have experienced hypoxia, with severe oxygen deprivation possibly occurring in two hours. Their need for torches in such dark places added to a steady decrease in their oxygen supply.

This reduced oxygen within their system would have put them in a state of altered consciousness, euphoria, and hallucinations.

Interestingly, since these prehistoric people considered science out of the picture, they attributed such experience as metaphysical in nature.

“The idea is they went in [to the bowels of caves] because they believed something was there, that there were entities beyond the wall,” Yafit Kedar, one of the study authors said.

Whether it be altered consciousness or plain creativity, these prehistoric humans viewed caves as sacred spaces that deserve awe and reverence. Up to this modern age, that’s what these cave paintings are for – regard and wonder.


Source: New York Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *