While some prehistoric sites - notably the painted caves at Lascaux in France and at Altamira in northern Spain - are familiar, many more such places are almost unknown. In fact, remains left by prehistoric men and women are far more numerous and have been found over a much greater territory - including Eurasia, Africa, Australia and the Americas - than most people are aware. These remains include paintings and engravings in caves and rock shelters, but also decorated tools, weapons, statuettes, personal ornaments and even musical instruments made of stone, ivory, antler, shell, bone and fired clay. In "Prehistoric Art", anthropologist Randall White presents a global survey, starting with the first explosion of imagery that occurred approximately 40,000 years ago but also including the creations of essentially "prehistoric" peoples living as recently as the early 20th century. Drawing on up-to-date research, White places these discoveries in context and discusses possible uses and meanings for the objects and images.
Randall White, a distinguished authority on Ice Age art and technology, directs the Institute for Ice Age Studies at New York University, where he is a professor of anthropology. His fieldwork has taken him to a wide range of prehistoric sites throughout the world, and he is currently the director of an excavation of the 35,000-year old settlement at Abri Castanet in the Dordogne Valley in France. The author of numerous books and articles on prehistoric life, and a frequent consultant to Time, Newsweek, Natural History, and other magazines, Professor White was also the organizer of the landmark 1986 exhibition Dark, Caves, Bright Visions: Life in Ice Age Europe, one of the most heavily attended exhibitions ever held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He lives in New York City and Montignac, France.