What is prehistoric art?

Hall of Bulls, Lascaux

The Hall of Bulls, Panoramic view of a cave wall
Lascaux, France, early period, 15,000-13,500 B.C.
Photograph courtesy of Musée de Périgord, Periguex, France

Paleolithic or Old Stone Age Art

The First Human Creations dealt with hunting and being hunted, with birth, life, and death, with existence, extinction, and the afterlife.

These images from the Ice Age were probably symbols standing for the processes of life. Their placement deep in underground caves suggest sanctuaries where religious rituals and ceremonies were performed.  The earliest images of women in prehistory such as the Venus of Willendorf were probably made as fertility figures.

Wounded Bison, Altamira

Wounded Bison, Cave painting with natural rock formation
Altamira Caves, Santander, Spain c. 14,000 - 12,000 B.C.

Carved Bison, La Madeleine

Carved Bison (Licking an Insect Bite) Carved and engraved
on a fragment of a spear-thrower made of reindeer antler
La Madeleine, France, 20,000 - 12,000 B.C.
Musée des Antiquités Nationales, St. Germain-en-Laye
Photograph courtesy American Museum of Natural History

Links for exploring more cave art

The Ice Age

The First Human Creations

The Cave of Lascaux

Cave art of Chauvet

Cave Art of Altamira, Spain

Cave Art of Kapova, Russia

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