Herds of prehistoric beasts stir as dawn breaks over the steppelands.

At the edge of the field, a family of early humans slumbers in a crude, animal-hide tent. A girl wakes first. She feels the warmth and comfort of thick fur blankets as the scent of charcoal drifts from the hearth. Fading into consciousness, she sees bison floating around on the ceiling, on the walls, on the floor, on herself.

She tries to touch the bison, but they are without physical substance.

Awed, scared, she wakes the others.

Season 1, Episode 5 “Hiding in the Light” of Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey. Series written by Ann Druyan and Steven Soter, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson (first aired in the USA on April 6, 2014). Clip used with permission from Cosmos Enterprises and FOX.


Harsh climates during the Paleolithic forced members of the human lineage to make rudimentary huts and tents. Survival depended on the ability to seal out the elements. Archeo-optical experiments with Paleolithic tent reconstructions indicate that small random holes in these rough shelters coincidentally formed camera obscuras, projecting moving images inside the dwelling spaces…

Through light-borne images,

humanity was introduced to the possibility of

representations, spirit realms, and abstract planes.

Excerpts from — “The Camera Obscura and the Origin of Art: The case for image projection in the Palaeolithic.” First presented at the University of Louisville on October 6, 2005.