Prehistoric Cave Paintings And Their Survival Into Modern Day.

Updated August 7, 2010

Oldest Cave Paintings.

In 1994 by way of radiocarbon dating the oldest cave paintings to date were found in Grotte Chauvet (Chauvet Cave) in France and are dated from 30,000 BCE. But much evidence of repeated paintings found in what were called cave studios some of which span over thousands of years of use, with varying styles and techniques from different artists may mean cave painting is older than initially thought.



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What was there purpose?

Why these beautiful works of art were actually sketched or painted is still not entirely clear. From archaeological evidence it would seem that the caves that displayed the artwork were not dwellings and were only used temporarily. Maybe some kind of ceremony took place. Perhaps it was created for religious rituals. My guess is it was kind of a menu, like the fast food chains of now days being as though they favoured paintings of the animals they would have hunted and eaten!   

How it came about.

How and why our Stone Age ancestors discovered that they could paint is still a mystery, but was it fashioned from their exploration of tool making? Of using stones to dig out roots from soil and seeing the stone traced a shape? Or was a stone or small rock perhaps used to scratch fungi from rocks and seeing the white trail of fragmented indents left behind? We can only speculate but leaving these very special signs of distinctive characteristics behind on the walls of caves is a great fascination and of great importance to our history.


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What did they paint with?

The Stone Age people used their fingers as painting implements at first but then they moved onto using moss, pigment crayons and animal hair fashioned into brushes to leave behind their artistic signature. Underneath the paintings faint lines of charcoal or the indent of a silhouette into the cave wall have been found which does imply that they did do a rough sketch before applying the paint. The paint would have been made up of ground clay ochre, which did provide lots of different kinds of red, yellow and brown. In a cave in South Africa called the Blombos Cave lumps of red ochre that had been made into primitive crayons have been found. They were skilled at grinding, mixing and adding cave water (Which was typically high in calcium carbonate) they would also have added in some urine, blood and animal fats to make the mixed powder stick to the walls of the cave.

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Which part of the world are the cave paintings?

Many Cave Paintings have been found in varying parts of the world. Argentina, Namibia, Southeast Asia, South Africa and France is host to some very famous Cave Paintings.

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Chauvet Cave, Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, France.

Cosquer Cave, near Marseille, France

Pech-Merle Cave, Cabreets, Midi-Pyrenees, France

Lascaux Cave, Montignac, Dordogne, France

Font de Gaume, Dordogne Valley, France

And Spain.

Cueva de La Pasiega, Cuevas de El Castillo, Cantabria, Spain

Cave of Altamira, Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain

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But recently many Cave Paintings have been discovered in India, in the Auditorium and Daraki-Chattan caves in Madhya Pradesh, Central India.

Australia has its fair share too with the oldest Rock art dating from 30,000 BCE.