In this posthumous book, anthropologist Alain Testart examines the iconography of the decorated caves
of the Paleolithic, particularly those of Lascaux (-18000) and Chauvet (-37000).
Analyzing the representations of animals and the abundant abstract signs as well as
the spatial distribution of the works, he offers an unprecedented interpretation linked to a new theory of signs.
According to Testart, this art conforms to a canon which seems to refer to a totemic way of thinking.
The iconography of the grottos thus evokes a hybrid humanity, not completely separate from the animal world.
Humans are depicted, of course, but in a somewhat distorted way.
It is through animals and a classifying of them into species,
Alain Testart explains, that parietal art reveals a classification of humans.
The omnipresent signs of femininity affixed on representations of animals could
indicate a central preoccupation with world reproduction in paleolithic religion.
The cave could even illuminate stages of a cosmogony.