Stone Age uncovered at Field Museum

Picture of a painted bull of the "main gallery" taken during a visit of the Lascaux Cave on July 25, 2008 near the village of Montignac, south western France. The cave, added to the Unesco World Heritage Sites list in 1979, containing some of the most well-known Upper Paleolithic art, estimated to be 16,000 years old, was closed to the public in 1963 in order to preserve the art. Clusters of black fungus have been spreading over the drawings said scientists in 2007. The stains were the latest biological threat to the Lascaux cave drawings, which were discovered in 1940 and are considered one of the finest examples of prehistoric art. Carbon-dating suggests the murals of bulls, felines and other images were created between 15,000 and 17,500 years ago in the caves, in the Dordogne region. In 1963, after green algae and other damage appeared, the caves were closed to the public. Only scientists and a few others are allowed to enter at certain times. (AP Photo/Pierre Andrieu, Pool)

March 19, 2013 3:43:56 PM PDT
Who were the greatest artists of all time? Picasso? The great masters? Cavemen from 20,000 years ago?

Travel back in time at the Field Museum. The newest exhibit includes cave paintings from caves in Lascaux, France.

"The paintings you see here in Lascaux Cave are exact, and I mean exact. They are 3-D images that were taken, and photographs, wonderful photographs and the paintings were done by artists," Dr. Jim Phillips, curator, The Field Museum, said.

So, it's almost as if the Lascaux cave was packed up and shipped to Chicago. Same colors, same dimensions. It's exactly the way it was when in 1940 Marcel Ravidat and three teenage friends found the cave while searching for a lost dog. The scientific world went crazy about Stone Age man, some 20,000 years ago, being such great artists.

"It looks to me just like Picasso was doing it," Dr. Phillips said. "A wonderful artist who Understood how to draw figures."

"They used pigments. Magnesium and iron ore for the red and orange and other naturally occurring pigments," Dr. Bob Martin, curator, Field Museum, said.

Many scientists believe the paintings were part of a ritual that helped the ancient hunters in their search for food.

The exhibit runs through September 8.