Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.
Profs and Pints presents: “Prehistoric Cave Art,” a look at the lessons and mysteries of ancient cave paintings, with Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University and scholar of the history of archaeology.
[You must show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test from the previous 72 hours to attend. Church Hall, where this event is being staged, follows all C.D.C. and Washington D.C. guidelines regarding public health, and D.C. currently requires anyone indoors at a restaurant or bar to wear a mask except while eating or drinking. The venue reserves the right to modify all rules to align with current and future regulations and best practices to maintain a safe and fun environment. In addition to bar service, it provides contactless ordering and hand sanitizer at all tables.]
Get ready for a scholarly adventure deep in the earth with Justin M. Jacobs, who has given a host of fantastic Profs and Pints talks on the ancient world and efforts to learn more about it. You’ll see stunning images of cave art all around you while learning powerful lessons about our species’ development of abstract thought, a key to its survival.
Tens of thousands of years ago, our earliest ancestors left cryptic images painted all over the walls and ceilings of dark caves. They depicted herds of bison, swimming stags, oversized aurochs, horses, and bears. Also among them were legions of handprints, creepy insect signs, baffling geometric designs, and even a “unicorn.”
But why were they left there? What did they all mean?
We’ll tackle such questions by heading into the bowels of three of the most spectacular caves in Europe—Altamira, Lascaux, and Chauvet---with Dr. Jacobs, who is teaching an upcoming Great Courses series on UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
He’ll discuss various interpretations of the images found in them, and he’ll walk us though popular explanations dealing with “hunting magic,” voodoo ceremonies, and secret initiation rites. He'll also tease out patterns in the data to get a better sense of just why our Paleolithic ancestors ventured into these caves to paint what one scholar has described as the “Sistine Ceiling” of prehistoric cave art.
By the end of this talk, you will have taken a vicarious trek through the aptly named Skull Chamber and caught a glimpse of such memorable creatures as a mammoth with three tusks, a bison with seven legs, and the long extinct Megaloceros.
Through it all, Dr. Jacobs will highlight the ways in which this mysterious cave art reveals the secret weapon of our species that gave us the cognitive tools to outpace all our evolutionary competitors and ultimately conquer the world. (Advance tickets: $12. Doors: $15, or $13 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in.)