This powerpoint goes along with the Prehistoric Art Papers that I also have for sale.
This lesson was designed not only to talk about the art from the time period but to also give students an overview of prehistoric culture. I have broken the lesson reading and notes into sections: time period concept, explanation of anthropology, geography, daily life, painting, sculpture, architecture, religion, and technologies/inventions.
This powerpoint presentation is part of a series. I have realized over the past few years that even though I was teaching about art time periods and movements, my students still didn't really understand them or the connection they had to world history. My goal was to design a series from cave art to modern art that not only explores the artwork created at a given time but also explores the culture which created it (daily life, governments, religions, etc.). This is the first of those new lessons to give my students a more in-depth and round explanation of a time period.
I start out by giving an overview of some main concepts of the time period. I also break every time period down into a single concept. (Stone Age = Art had magical qualities) I explain that all time periods do not line up perfectly. Most overlap in odd ways and you cannot judge something based on assumptions. This leads into my explanation of anthropology and how we used the evolution of human behavior to trace things back in time to see how or why something started when it did. I give the example of the "cowboy" and how we have been fed lies for decades and decades. Most of our notions of the wild west (through cartoons, movies, and pop culture) can be traced back to a traveling circus show that made the wild west look like a rough and tumble place full of gun fights and fights with Native Americans. Anthropology helps up learn how beliefs are formed through tracing them back in time. This transitions into carbon dating which is a faster way to date things even though not always correct.
I highlight the geography of where most stone age art can be found meaning this was the area in which ancient man first began to form our modern ways (farming, cities, religions, etc.) I explain what daily life was like showing multiple examples of living conditions from different countries. I discuss average lifespan, communicating with no written languages, and having no governments.
I give lots of examples in explaining sculpture from the time period. Most were very small portable things like spear throwers or charms. I touch on petroglyphs and animals; some being mixed species. We look at Venus of Willendorf and her meaning. I give examples of other Venus' from elsewhere in the ancient world and this leads into a small group activity.
I have students design/sketch a small example of a modern twist on Venus. Venus was meant for fertility and her sculptural features emphasize fertility. I give the example that if I wanted extra luck in make class I could design a charm that emphasizes math skills/knowledge (example pics shown).
In the painting section I start with showing stone age supplies and methods. Using charcoal and mixing minerals with things like blood, eggs, or fat to turn them into paint. We discuss how important these caves must have been due to the difficult locations and working conditions in order to pain them. They must have been used from generation to generation because overlapping images sometime date a thousand years apart. They were technically spray painting using something like hollow bird bones to blow paint as through a drinking straw. There are also quite a few mysterious symbols that have no clear explanation. We see various examples before leading into another small activity. In this activity, students must design their own abstracted symbols to represent important things in their lives or concepts (examples given).
In the architecture section I tart off by talking about the city of Jericho and one of the world's first fortified cities. I show multiple examples of defense systems throughout history that all use the simple idea and lead into megalithic construction. this leads into odd monuments of the stone age like rows of megaliths at Brittany or Stonehenge in England. We focus on Stonehenge for a while and talk about prehistoric man's abilities to quarry, transport, and build with stones weighing up to 50 tons. I discuss how Stonehenge shows great knowledge of math, engineering, and astronomy as it is a yearly calendar. A few slides after this deal with Stonehenge's alignments and oddities. I show lots of examples that prove Stonehenge was not the only "henge" of the ancient world.
The religion section starts by examining the decorated prehistoric skulls and tombs. I've included multiple slides/examples from around the world of different tomb constructions for the period. I discuss how the ancients must have had beliefs in Gods or mystic forces of another world and I use their artwork to prove that point.
I show some of the technologies and inventions of the time as well. We start off by showing the process of handling such large megalithic stones. This leads into post and lintel construction. I show some of the neolithic copper mines which helped move man out of the stone age and into working with metals (making better tools/weapons). I touch on pottery at the end before giving some random fun facts to end the time period presentation.
The last thing on the powerpoint is the student project examples. I have my students create their own section of a cave wall. I have one example of a student who chose to make their as if they were a cave man (using bison, deer, handprints, etc.) and one modern twist example (using a computer, dumbbell, taco, etc.). I stress in the project that these ancient people were painting as a way of worship and magic. They were painting animals that they depended on to live. What do you depend on? What can you not live without? To what do you devote your hours of the day? This usually gets some pretty funny results for the project but it makes them think about why the cavemen did what they did.
The entire presentation is filled with extra little things to keep student attention and emphasize points (color changes, animations, gifs, crazy transitions, etc.) I am eventually going to add in an "Ancient Aliens" section to all of my art history lessons as well to talk about the crazy capabilities and technologies of ancient cultures. (It's a tv show based on exploring the unexplainable things throughout history)