PaezArtDesign Blog

A Glimpse of the Past: Prehistoric Era Illustrations

Updated: Sep 18, 2019


"You should create some Prehistoric illustrations," my friend said, "it will be fun!"


Over a year later, I finally find myself wrapping up the biggest clip art collection that I have ever created! This year long project started as a growing bundle that would feature 15 different categories that pertain to the Prehistoric era. Little did I know, how massive the project would become! I am not disappointed though, in fact, just the opposite. It was fun, very educating, and well worth the time and effort!

Learning about our history plays an important role in forging who we are now, and who we will become in the future. We can learn a great deal from our ancient ancestors!

Each image created for the Prehistoric era bundle, was carefully researched...with education, being the goal in mind. I wanted my work to be as accurate as possible for those using it in the classroom as a resource, and for the hungry, young minds utilizing it in their learning. As a visual learner myself, I know how important the right imagery can be in inspiring education. For this reason, the research portion in my creative process, often took as long as the drawing portion! I wanted to make sure that my illustrations were detailed, and credible. Note: many of the sources that I researched will be included in the end of this post.

The Bundle

This bundle aims to offer a glimpse into the past, with detailed illustrations of everyday Prehistoric life. It has everything that you need for creating ancient history resources for the classroom or homeschool! Each of the following categories is a set on its own, with a minimum of ten illustrations per set, offered in a color option, as well as black/white. Many sets have more than ten illustrations though...I got carried away, and let the art take over! Who am I really... to argue with the spirit of creativity?



Included Categories:

Animals

You will find in this set, 12 different animals from Prehistoric times. Some animals include: Saber Tooth Cat, Woolly Mammoth, Megalania, Dunkleosteus fish, and so much more!


Backgrounds/Digital Papers

Create a whole scene from the Prehistoric period with these digital papers and backgrounds! There are a variety of fun options included, from Jungle scenes, to cave back drops, to bark and marble designs, which come in a rainbow variety of colors. Backgrounds are offered in both JPG and PNG files for ease of access and ultimate creative control when creating resources.


Cave Art

Art is, and always has been, a form of self-expression. This rings true with the Prehistoric era art as well. It was used as a form of communication, documentation, and as an outward expression of who our early ancestors were. It plays a vital role in understanding history.

Clothing

Primitive clothing was often composed of plant and animal fibers. Furs and hides were sewn together using bone needles, and animal sinew thread. Grasses were also used to provide some insulation, like in footwear. This set is full of great clothing examples from hats, to cloaks, loincloths, shoes and more!


Dwellings

Shelter, like so many other things during Prehistoric times, focused on natural materials. Dwellings were made from simple stones and caves, to more intricate constructions like the Terra Amata structure. Animal and plant material was often incorporated in such structures. The nomadic lifestyle did not offer much for housing stability. Dwellings were reliant upon the fact that the dweller had to move frequently to follow the food, and weather/seasons.


Fire Making

Fire making skills changed the course of history. With the newest skill, early people were able to cook food, ward off predators, move into colder climates, and much more. Fires were used in forging weapons and tools that made everyday life a little bit easier.


Food

In order to capture a good deal of the foods and food groups that early hominids would have had available for consumption, this set "accidentally" turned into a bundle in itself! This food set is a great deal, and a huge bonus! It offers a variety of food group options including Fruits & Berries, Nuts & Seeds, Insects, Grains, Vegetables/Legumes/Tubers, and Meat & Seafood.

Digital Frames

These digital frames may be geared towards Prehistoric resources, but are versatile, and fun to use with any resource! Check them out here!


Inventions

This set offers a little bit of everything! Why you might ask? Because early cave men & women had to be innovative in every part of their lives, in order to evolve and grow. Everything was from "scratch". They were crafty, clever, and invented numerous things to improve their daily lives! Many of these things that we still use today, were a part of this early innovation. The list includes, but is not limited to, Weapons (bows, arrows, spears, knives), Transportation (boats, canoes), Tools (needles, fish hooks, axes), Art (jewelry, paints, paintings), Fire, the Wheel, and so much more! Find all of this and more in this Inventions set!


Jewelry

Prehistoric times were not just about surviving. They were also a time for creating and expressing through art. We see this especially, with the recovery of early jewelry remains found in caves and at archaeological dig sites. Similar to the way natural materials were utilized in clothing, dwellings, tools, and more, jewelry too, made use of of what could be attained from the natural environment. The following items are some of the components that have been discovered through the years: stone beads, marble, shell beads, animal claws, teeth & more. This clip art set features many examples of Prehistoric jewelry.

People

I procrastinated something fierce when first starting to create this set! Why? I was fearful. Fearful of creating something that would not be accurate enough for educational purposes. Or good enough artistically, because I will be frank here, drawing people has not always been my strong suit. Needless to say, I got over myself, and decided to jump in head first! The first question that I found needed an answer, "what did Prehistoric people really look like?"


Despite archaeological discoveries, there is still so much that we do not know about early people. There is not a lot to go by when all you have are the remains of fragments of bones. A good deal of what we know is a product of mixing science and speculation. Sure we can find/discover things, and date things, but how these things were used, for what purpose, and why they were created, sometimes remains a mystery left to our creative imaginations. So it is with Prehistoric people as well. We have remains, and we have ideas based on locations of said remains. We have observations of indigenous people from the area, and cool technology which can render images based on the scientific evidence. But still...our early ancestors remain somewhat of a mystery to us. This all fueled my fear. I did not really know what Prehistoric people looked like, so how could I draw images of them?

Knowing all of this, I dug into the research anyway, and spent a great deal of time! My goal was to create images that would closely resemble what scientific discoveries and speculation had offered. I began drawing with all of this in mind, allowing room for the creativity to add my personal touch as well. Creating this particular set turned into such a learning experience, from all aspects! (It was also my very first people clip art set created!)


What I came up with...

In keeping with the most recent research, I drew facial features in some of the images to reflect larger brow bones, noses, eyes, and other different facial feature characteristics of early man/woman. I tried also to think in familial terms, and included different age ranges, and different family/tribe members to offer variety, as would have been the norm during the Prehistoric times. This set also features a variety of poses, and skin tone variations. Prehistoric people came from all over the globe, skin tones should reflect that.


In the end, I was happy with what came about. I think I kept a good balance between creativity and science for these images. I learned a ton, and hope to spread that knowledge through my art! Check out the set here!


Pottery and Cookware

With the discovery of fire, heating foods became a possibility. First, fire was used for roasting, later, it was used underground, as the first oven. We know this primitive cooking method today as the earth oven, ground oven, or simply a cooking pit.


With fire, also came the ability to create pottery and dishes for cooking, storing, and holding foods. A mixture of melted pine pitch and crushed charcoal was used to create a strong glue, which worked for waterproofing and bonding tools. Baskets made from plant fibers and this pine pitch glue would have made an excellent container for holding liquids.

Animal skins, stomachs and bladders were utilized as well in making waterproof/leak proof drinking vessels.

Stone was another fundamental component in the Prehistoric way of life, especially in the "kitchen". Grinding stones were used for crushing all kinds of foods, like acorns, nuts, seeds, berries, grasses, etc.

This Pottery and Cookware clip art set showcases many different ways and tools used in Prehistoric cooking.


Tools

I was lucky enough to visit Greece on a month long college trip when I was younger, and I remember spending a lot of time in museums, marveling in awe at early people's ingenuity. I found myself asking the questions, "How did they know what they were doing?" or "Which materials did they know to mix, or heat in order to create something usable?"

The tools that we find at Archaeological sites today, shed a small amount of light on what life might have been like back then. Tools would have made life a bit easier. Tools like bone hooks and needles were used in creating clothing, and footwear. Tools like hand axes, flint knives, and stone scrapers were most likely used for cutting meat, skinning the animal for rawhide and more. Grinding stones served many purposes, from cooking to paint making. Thankfully, through Archaeological discoveries, we are fortunate enough to recognize a little of this ingenuity.

Vegetation

Fossils tell us a great deal about our history. Fossils can show us which kinds of vegetation were present during Prehistoric times. This can give us insight into what kinds of foods, and medicines Prehistoric people may have had at their disposal. Some of these plants include palm branches, ferns, Dutchman's Pipe (<--get your sample here!), King Protea flower, Fig palm, Boabab leaves, and more. Some of these plants we still have around today.

This clip art set illustrates these types of vegetation, and more!


Weapons

Weapons provided protection, and allowed for the hunting of meat during Prehistoric times. Early cave art depicts the use of bows, arrows, and spears during hunts for animals. Archaeological discoveries back this up, and provide evidence that such weapons were indeed used. Arrowheads are one of the examples found. Arrowheads were made from sharpened stones that were most likely applied via pine pitch glue, or animal sinew, to arrow and spear shafts.

This clip art set features such weapons used. It includes ten different arrowheads, bow/arrow, wooden club, atlatl, and several types of spears, with different spear heads.


Thank you so much for following along! While this set turned out way larger than my friend could ever have imagined I loved the learning process and the art that came from it. I look forward to seeing how it is used to teach others about Prehistoric times!






References


2019. “Neanderthals.” National Geographic Partners, LLC. Retrieved from: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/neanderthals-article/


2019. “Why Am I Denisovan?” National Geographic Partners, LLC. Retrieved from: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/denisovan/


2019. “Why Am I Neanderthal?” National Geographic Partners, LLC. Retrieved from: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/neanderthal/


“A Guide to Prehistoric Plants.” Eden Project. 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.edenproject.com/learn/for-everyone/a-guide-to-prehistoric-plants


Amos, Jonathon. 2011. “Ancient ‘Paint Factory’ Unearthed.” BBC News. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-15257259


Blake De Pastino. 2019. “16,000-Year-Old Tools Discovered in Texas, Among the Oldest Found in the West.” Western Digs. Retrieved from: http://westerndigs.org/16000-year-old-tools-discovered-in-texas-among-the-oldest-yet-found-in-the-west/


“Blombos Cave Rock Art”. Encyclopedia of Stone Age Art. Retrieved from: http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/prehistoric/blombos-cave-art.htm


Buckley, et al. 2014. “Dental Calculus Reveals Unique Insights Into Food Items, Cooking and Plant Processing in Prehistoric Central Sudan.” Public Library of Science. Retrieved from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0100808


Castaneda, et al. “A Recipe For Success: Experimental Archaeology and Paint Making.” Archaeological Research & Education Center. Retrieved from: https://shumla.org/experimental-archaeology-paint-making/


Douma, M., curator. (2008). What are paintings made out of? In Pigments through the Ages. Retrieved June 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments/paintings.html.


Elizabeth Kolbert. 2011. “Sleeping With the Enemy: What Happened Between the Neanderthals and Us.” The New Yorker Magazine. Retrieved from: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/08/15/sleeping-with-the-enemy


“Extinct Animals.”Retrieved from: https://www.extinctanimals.org/


“First Techniques: Fire and Tools.” USHistory.org. 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.ushistory.org/civ/2d.asp


Groeneveld, Emma. 2016. “Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherer Societies.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: https://www.ancient.eu/article/991/prehistoric-hunter-gatherer-societies/


Hennings, et al. 2018. “The Colorful History of Paint.” Bureau of Economic Geology. Retrieved from: https://www.earthdate.org/colorful-history-of-paint


Liu, et al. 2013. “Paleolithic Human Exploitation of Plant Foods During the Last Glacial Maximum in North China.” National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3619325/


“New Study Says Ancient Humans Hunted Big Mammals to Extinction.” 2018. National Public Radio (NPR). Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/19/604031141/new-study-says-ancient-humans-hunted-big-mammals-to-extinction


“Otzi’s Clothing.” 2016. South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology. Retrieved from: http://www.iceman.it/en/clothing/


Planck, Max. Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 2018. “The Genome of the Offspring of a Neanderthal Mother and a Denisovan Father.” US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30135579


“Prehistoric Color Palette.” Encyclopedia of Fine Art. Retrieved from: http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/artist-paints/prehistoric-colour-palette.htm


Schweizer, Micah. 2010. “The Prehistoric Treasure in the Fields of Indiana.” National Public Radio. https://www.npr.org/2011/01/03/132412112/the-prehistoric-treasure-in-the-fields-of-indiana


Smith, Bruce D. Smithsonian Institution. 2004. “The Broad Spectrum Revisited: Evidence From Plant Remains.” PNAS. Retrieved from: https://www.pnas.org/content/101/26/9551.long


“Stone Age Cave Painting”. Encyclopedia of Stone Age Art. Retrieved from: http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/prehistoric/cave-painting.htm


Traci Watson. 2015. “Ancient Oat Discovery May Poke More Holes in Paleo Diet.” National Geographic. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/people-and-culture/food/the-plate/2015/09/11/ancient-oat-discovery-may-poke-more-holes-in-paleo-diet/


Violatti, Cristian . 2014. “Stone Age.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30135579


“Wooden Tools and Fire Technology in the Early Neanderthal Site of Poggetti Vecchi (Italy)”. 2018. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Retrieved from: https://www.pnas.org/content/115/9/2054


Worthington, John. 2019. “20 Physical Traits You May Have Inherited from a Neanderthal.” Abroad In the Yard. Retrieved from: https://www.abroadintheyard.com/20-physical-traits-inherited-from-neanderthal/



Tanya Paez here!

Michigan native illustrator & digital artist; observing and learning...as much as I can!

I specialize in nature images for educational resources.

Find out more here!

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 All images and content are copyright works of Tanya Paez | All Rights Reserved © 2019