The First Artists

In Search of the World's Oldest Art


Two of the greatest living authorities on Ice Age art take the reader on a journey across the globe and hundreds of thousands of years into the past to discover the deepest origins of art.


ISBN: 9780500051870 Category:

Michel Lorblanchet, Paul Bahn


Where do we find the world’s very first art? When, and why, did people begin experimenting with different materials, forms and colours? Were our once-cousins, the Neanderthals, also capable of creating art? Prehistorians have been asking these questions of our ancestors for decades, but only very recently, with the development of cutting-edge scientific and archaeological techniques, have we been able to piece together the first chapter in the story of art. Overturning the traditional Eurocentric vision of our artistic origins, which has focused almost exclusively on the Franco-Spanish cave art, Paul Bahn and Michel Lorblanchet take the reader on a search for the earliest art across the whole world. They show that our earliest ancestors were far from being the creatively impoverished primitives of past accounts, and Europe was by no means the only ‘cradle’ of art; the artistic impulse developed in the human mind wherever it travelled. The long universal history of art mirrors the development of humanity.

Additional information

Weight 648 g
Dimensions 16 x 24.1 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 20 September 2017
Number of pages 296
Format Hardback
Dimensions 16 x 24.1 cm
Weight 648 g


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Paul Bahn is co-author of Thames & Hudson's bestselling Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice, and author of Images of the Ice Age, widely regarded as the standard introduction to cave art.

Michel Lorblanchet is a leading French specialist in the field of Palaeolithic art. In his former roles as Director of Research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and research consultant for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies he pioneered experimental methods of reproducing ancient art, as well as scientific methods for its dating. His Art pariétal: Grottes ornées du Quercy (Editions du Rouergue, 2010), the sum of forty-five years of research, is considered the definitive work on the art of the Quercy region, which includes more than thirty painted caves.