The Stoned Age: Scientists Present Theory That Cave Painters Were High On Psychedelic Drugs

220px-GuaTewet_tree_of_life-LHFageIt seems that artists from the beginning of time have found a natural relationship between drugs and creative expression. Or at least that is the implications of a theory of scientists who believe that cave drawings were the result of biological-hallucinogenic drugs producing common geometric patterns.
Prehistoric cave paintings across the continents have similar geometric patterns not because early humans were learning to draw like Paleolithic pre-schoolers, but because they were high on drugs, and their brains—like ours—have a biological predisposition to “see” certain patterns, especially during consciousness altering states.

The researchers looked at the common shapes found in caves around the world from Paleolithic times dating back 40,000 years. For years, the similarity was explained as common early pathways to early art forms. These scientists however have a more chemical explanation.

220px-The_Croods_posterTimothy-Leary-Los-Angeles-1989The scientists believe that the patterns are common visions that result from brain biochemistry. They state in their article: “The prevalence of certain geometric patterns in the symbolic material culture of many prehistoric cultures, starting shortly after the emergence of our biological species and continuing in some indigenous cultures until today, is explained in terms of the characteristic contents of biologically determined hallucinatory experience.” Think of Timothy Leary meets the Croods.

They believe that these cave drawings occurred during rituals where the painters took plants with the same type of effect as peyote. Such plants produced similar responses:

“The non-ordinary visual experiences were often characterized by similar kinds of abstract geometric patterns, which he classified into four categories of form constants: (1) gratings, lattices, fretworks, filigrees, honeycombs, and checkerboards; (2) cobwebs; (3) tunnels and funnels, alleys, cones, vessels; and (4) spirals,” they write, citing peyote research. “Intriguingly, these form constants turned out to resemble many of the abstract motifs that are often associated with prehistoric art from around the world, including Paleolithic cave art in Europe.”

So there you have it: the stoned age.

Source: alter net

31 thoughts on “The Stoned Age: Scientists Present Theory That Cave Painters Were High On Psychedelic Drugs

  1. Jonathan,
    Talk to your old buddies, the Evanston Brat Pack: Johnny Cusack, Dave Prince, and Matt Adel. We all were. . . . Oh no. Oh yes.
    Rick Faust
    P.S. CBA Criminal Law Committee Chairman, 1988-89, People v. Alejos, 97 Ill. 2d 502 (1983) This decision eliminated a felony and walked more cons than any case in Illinois history. Keep up the good work, mon frere. Over and out.

  2. Dredd,
    Good morning. I had a conversation with an Indian and we discussed the other side. I related to him the time my girl and I had the same view during a psilocybin buzz outside of my dorm room, in central Iowa, as it turns out to be a burial ground for the Tama. He was interested. Later, I spoke with an Indian from Minnesota and discussed the little green men (a/k/a Elmer Fudd) that appear during (Run) DMT. This tribal chief described that at the point he was about to give up on his vision quest in the North Dakota badlands, the little green men sat down on his shoulders and said in our current slang: “Chill,” He finished his vision quest. Over and out.

  3. Many years ago Joseph Campbell, in part 1 (Primitive Mythology) of his four books series the Masks of God ( wrote about his theory that the cave paintings were part of religious initiation rituals that may have used psychedelics to heighten the experience. This gives some evidence of Campbell’s and others who have theorized this for a long time now. Knowing the powerful impact of psychedelics personally I have no doubt that this use by our ancestors was highly probable. Psychedelics are frightening to modern society because the insights derived may rip the masks off the commonly agreed worldview we call reality.

  4. magginkat,

    Your comments, including your URL, contain the b-word and hence, will not pass the moderation filter set by JT.

  5. If I understand this correctly, if I had only been tripping during High School Geometry, I may have done better??

  6. raff, LOL!

    This is a very interesting theory. I tend to believe it. And, when people spout off about our culture’s need to alter their reality via various substances they need to understand this research. Some people’s brains seek an alternate reality. We don’t know shit about the brain. We’re learning a lot, but we have just scratched the surface.

  7. They were mental patients locked in the caves. This was the start of the MK Ultra Project. Y’all have forgotten that project have you? Maybe its all CAPS but it was quite the thing to get experimented on in the nuthouse. Turns out that severe schizophrenics did better while buzzing on the LSD.
    Or some will tell you that.

  8. magginkat,

    I didn’t say the URL was in the text of the comment. The URL is in the “Website” portion of the log in section. JT’s filter scans both locations and partial matches also count. This is the last time I’ll try and help.

  9. I used to always tell my mother, ”Mom, I smoke because it makes me more creative”…. She wouldn’t believe me………………….

  10. The method used to make the pictures of the hands represents the first use of “blow”.

    Etymology reveals the modern English colloquial use of “blow” stems from its pre-historic verb: *graaak which means “hearing the colors, me painted hand”

  11. Mike S: “Psychedelics are frightening to modern society because the insights derived may rip the masks off the commonly agreed worldview we call reality.”


    !0-4, I’ve always contended that the ban on hallucinogenic drugs and pot/hash (if manipulated to the point of hallucinogenic experience) was because they *changed your mind*, got your head back to basics and cleaned out the cultural cobwebs.

  12. magginkat,:

    NAL…. whoever you are. I still have no idea what you are talking about. Also I notice that you conveniently ignored answering regarding your false accusation that I used the ‘B’ word. If you accidentally confused my post with someone else, why don’t you admit it?

    Your URL is ProudLiberal[B-word]. It’s what you enter in the “Website” field. That field is checked by JT’s filter and your comments don’t make it through. I don’t see how I can make it any plainer.

  13. How ridiculous! Well at least that’s plainer than your first two responses which made no sense at all. I cannot imagine why my old URL which, by the way shows to no one, plus I didn’t even realize it was listed any place. I sign in with Twitter or Word Press. I still think that was a silly reason to delete my post & make it look like I had posted something offensive when I was simply quoting Mike Spindell. I searched & searched that post and by george I did use a ‘b’ word……. but Mike S. used it first. That ‘b’ word was “because”!!!

    @Mike Spindell: “Psychedelics are frightening to modern society because the insights derived may rip the masks off the commonly agreed world view we call reality.” I have a very religious friend who is angry at me because I said some similar except mine would read: “Psychedelics are frightening to modern society because the insights derived may rip the masks off the commonly agreed world view we call RELIGION.”

  14. Pete9999, yea, I feel ripped-off too.:-)

    Did it again, I keep typing your name as “Pete666” LoL, you little demon you, it just seems natural to type it that way.:-)

  15. Wiki says, “”Flashbacks” are a reported psychological phenomenon in which an individual experiences an episode of some of LSD’s subjective effects long after the drug has worn off, usually in the days after typical doses. In some rarer cases, flashbacks have lasted longer, but are generally short-lived and mild compared to the actual LSD “trip”. Flashbacks can incorporate both positive and negative aspects of LSD trips, and are typically elicited by triggers such as alcohol or cannabis use, stress, caffeine, or sleepiness. Flashbacks have proven difficult to study and are no longer officially recognized as a psychiatric syndrome. However, colloquial usage of the term persists and usually refers to any drug-free experience reminiscent of psychedelic drug effects, with the typical connotation that the episodes are of short duration.

    No definitive explanation is currently available for these experiences. Any attempt at explanation must reflect several observations: first, over 70 percent of LSD users claim never to have “flashed back”; second, the phenomenon does appear linked with LSD use, though a causal connection has not been established; and third, a higher proportion of psychiatric patients report flashbacks than other users.[57] Several studies have tried to determine how likely a user of LSD, not suffering from known psychiatric conditions, is to experience flashbacks. The larger studies include Blumenfeld’s in 1971[58] and Naditch and Fenwick’s in 1977,[59] which arrived at figures of 20% and 28%, respectively.”

    I wouldn’t know anything about this, naturally, but I understand a flashback is exactly as described above.

    I did have a really interesting afternoon at work one time though.

  16. Gene: “I wouldn’t know anything about this, naturally, but I understand a flashback is exactly as described above.

    I did have a really interesting afternoon at work one time though.”

    Lol, well, now you’re just bragging.:-)

    Pete9999, Mike, let’s just go sit on a bench together and feel deprived.:-)

  17. Or maybe this (I guess I was on something when I was a kid and saw this strange documentary about British submariners.

  18. I’m looking forward to when archeologists discover literary fragments from a Paleolithic Hunter S. Thompson.

  19. Researchers have to appear relevant if they want to earn their keep, I suppose, but it’s always amusing when scientists theorize about artists.

  20. The fact is…. there are many ways that humans have discovered to bring about Hallucinogenic states of mind… Not all of them involving mind altering drugs… Long periods of not eating, long periods of not enough water! Long periods of darkness to name a few. I’d like to know, what kinds of drugs the afore mentioned scientists may have been on…. before they expressed their opinion.?

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