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Their understanding can be influenced by various factors - by their gender or status, for example; and they may modify their explanation of the art when speaking to outsiders deemed unqualified to share meanings so sacred or secret.And when dealing with art for which no ethnological data are known, our predicament is worse still. Does a painting of a bird depict an eagle, a supernatural spirit, or a shaman whose soul has taken flight? ' 'Some archaeologists think that it is impossible to know what rock art means and that the researcher's role is to study motifs and techniques, try to date the works, establish as far as possible whether these images were structurally linked, but not attempt to interpret them.In a complex of caves in the Dordogne region of southwestern France, the cave paintings of Lascaux are estimated to be up to 20,000 years old, consisting primarily of large animals, once native to the region.

The fact that these cave paintings were executed so skilfully yet so deep within prehistory has forced us to abandon the prevailing view that 'early art was naive art'.

The Bradshaw Foundation's role to discover, document and protect ancient rock art, cave paintings and rock engravings around the world demonstrates the range of protection that is both available and possible, falling somewhere between 'preservation' and 'conservation'.

From the tight security of Chauvet to the guided tours of Niaux Cave.

Not only is the Ice Age art of the Chauvet Cave extremely old, it is also very extensive and highly varied.

And one other factor intrigued prehistorians around the world eagerly awaiting news from the research team; the Chauvet Cave and its Paleolithic paintings were more or less perfectly preserved.

It may seek to influence the world and the course of life through the paintings, such as the Wandjina paintings of the Kimberleys in Australia.

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