Evidence of Stone-Age Era Animation Is Discovered


Fred Flintstone, animator? The real Stone Age-era families might have actually dabbled in animation, according to a story in the Australian Times. Anthropologists investigating caves in France recently uncovered artifacts that may have represented animated movement by using flickering images. Marc Azema, a researcher at the Prehistoric Art Research and Study Center in Toulouse, said it appeared that Stone-Age humans had discovered retinal persistence and used it to make toys and artifacts that foreshadowed the modern cinema.

In a paper to be published in the academic journal Antiquity, Mr. Azema and Florent Rivere, a co-researcher, said:

“Paleolithic (Stone-Age) artists invented the principle of sequential animation, based on the properties of retinal persistence. This was achieved by showing a series of juxtaposed or superimposed images of the same animal.”

Evidence of Stone-Age Era Animation Is Discovered

Evidence of Stone-Age Era Animation Is Discovered

These artifacts consist of small discs made from bone and engraved on each side with slightly different images of the same animal. Researchers discovered if a string was threaded through the central hole and then stretched tight to make the disc twirl, then the two images started to merge, creating an optical illusion of movement. The optical toy depicted the end of a successful hunt. Way to go, Fred and Barney!

  • http://twitter.com/ChriSobieniak Chris Sobieniak

    This is nothing new, I’ve heard of this quite often in books and even on the Disneyland TV show!

  • Neil Parsons

    Rhino Cave in Botswana has a possibly much earlier pre-cinema. On winter afternoons, a thin beam of projected sunlight travels along a four or five metre long, one metre high, rock shelf that had been chipped and pitted to look like a great serpent. As the beam travels slowly along the sculpture, the body is animated into a writhing action. One archaeologist has claimed that the sculpture is 70,000 years old. Other dispute that age, but is still lilkely to predate 40,000 years old.

  • cartoonstew

     Yes, but did they have a laugh track?

  • Steve Bristow

    Retinal persistence – never heard it called that before. They are of course referring to the flawed ‘persistence of vision’ theory of why we perceive sequential images as movement.