The Scene of the Dead Man  

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"The same scene appears on an engraved reindeer horn at nearby Villars and on a sculpted block in a cliff shelter at Roc de Sers near Limoges, which is five thousand years older than the Lascaux painting. Fifty-five similar images in the other caves and three more Palaeolithic rock drawings in Africa have been found, all showing men confronting animals in a state of trance with upraised arms. They are probably shamans." The Case for God[1] by Karen Armstrong

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Scene of the Dead Man[2] is a cave painting found in a side chamber in the Caves of Lascaux, the only painting in the Lascaux caves which depicts a human figure. The painting depicts a bird-headed human figure (drawn as a stick figure) lying supine in front of a bison. The man appears to be a dead or sleeping. He has an erection. The bison is wounded with its entrails hanging out and next to the scene is a broken spear. There is also a fleeing rhinoceros.

Bird motif

The bird motif is found twice among the depictions, first on top of a a rod with a bird on the top, lying to the left of the spear, and more significantly, the head of the man also appears to be bird-shaped.

Erection of the man

Some have debated the actuality of the erection of the dead man. However, William Irwin Thompson in The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture (1981) has argues that:

"The ithyphallic bird-man is the climactic, ecstatic, instantaneous male principle confronting the enormous, slow, bovine, and enduring principle of the eternal feminine in her epiphany as the bison."

Similarly, Karen Armstrong, in The Case for God calls his "phallus erect."

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Scene of the Dead Man" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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