Digital Commons@RISD Home > Division of Liberal Arts > Contemporary Aesthetics (Journal Archive) > Vol. 5 (2007)
This paper asks whether an aesthetics of Paleolithic tools is possible, and if so, what it might be. The application of our own aesthetic sensibilities to artifacts of prehistory is not difficult. We easily recognize and appreciate their visual and tactile qualities. The more complicated questions that the paper explores are whether we can uncover the aesthetic sensibilities of their makers and, if we cannot, whether aesthetic examination of prehistoric tools from our own perspectives is adequate or useful. The paper is based on study of Paleolithic flints from French archaeological sites dating from about 500,000 years ago to about 11,000 years ago. The stone tools are held in the collections of the Wilson Museum (Castine, Maine, U.S.A.), and the paper is illustrated from these collections.