Under a rock overhang, tree branches were fashioned in a framework and leaned over a gap in the rock, enclosing a small room-sized area. Bison hides were draped over the framework and a horse was stationed outside in front of the hide wall. A hole in the hide projected the image of the horse inside. (Image presented at 180º)
The next reconstruction was set up next to a bison pasture. Straight tree limbs were used to create a small teepee frame. Hides were draped around the frame and rocks were used to hold the frame and hides in place. A hole projected an image of the outside scene into the tent. Visible are the distant hills in the background, bison in the field in the middle ground, and the wire fence in the extreme foreground.
We ran further experiments at the Museum of Malgré-Tout in Treignes, Belgium, where archeologists Pierre Cattelain and Claire Bellier have reconstructed a variety of Paleolithic tent dwellings.

The reconstruction of the Gönnersdorf tent had a few small holes in the hides, which projected moving images inside. In the above photograph taken inside the tent, a small hole (small yellow circle) projects the image of Pierre Cattelain (large yellow circle) on to a rabbit hide (image presented 180º).


These experiments establish that Paleolithic dwelling strategies and materials readily lent themselves to camera obscura formation. This is absurdly simple technology — hides and sticks.

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