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date: 19 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Human light-producing technology (i.e. the controlled use of fire) evolved during the Palaeolithic. Among its more obvious advantages to survival (heat, cooking, protection), fire-provided light in the form of hearths and lamps probably had considerable evolutionary significance. As human symbolic systems spread with the late Middle Palaeolithic and Upper Palaeolithic in Eurasia, it became a constituent component of European cave art. After reviewing the biological basis of human perception in low-light situations, we examine the existing evidence for the evolution of controlled use of fire (light production), and focus on its use in the performance of Upper Palaeolithic art and other activities in the deep caves of Western Europe.

Keywords: Palaeolithic, colour, evolutionary psychology, low light, colour transition, red, cave art, fire, vision, lamps

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