Profs & Pints Rockville: Prehistoric Cave Art--Door tickets remain available.

By Profs and Pints (other events)

Tuesday, May 23 2023 6:00 PM 8:30 PM EDT

Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.

Pfsro and Pints Rockville 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.

Profs and Pints is expanding to True Respite Brewing in Rockville with a debut talk by one of its best speakers!

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 has taught a Great Courses series on UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 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, at Altamira, Lascaux, and Chauvet. Dr. Jacobs will 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: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)  

Image: Animal paintings in the Lascaux cave network in France. (Wikimedia Commons.)