Prehistoric human beings lived in almost all continents of the world and they have left their mark on the world in the form of cave paintings and rock paintings. These paintings are very basic and most depict scenes from everyday life like community gatherings, hunting parties, and family life. Most cave paintings also have drawing of animals commonly found in those areas or of domesticated animals. By analyzing these paintings, researchers can find a treasure of information about the way of life in prehistoric times. Here is a list of the 10 most mesmerizing prehistoric cave paintings in the word.
Mesmerizing Prehistoric Cave Paintings
1. Magura Cave
This cave is located in southern Bulgaria and has one of the largest and most diverse collections of prehistoric cave paintings seen anywhere in the world. It is estimated that these paintings were made between 4000 and 8000 years ago and there are about 700 paintings in this large cave. Further investigation found that these paintings were done with bat excrement, which was abundantly found in the area. Most of the figures in the cave are those of humans performing various activities like dancing and hunting while there are also a large number of paintings of animals.
Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3d/Magura_-_drawings.jpg
2. Cueva des la Manos
This cave, in the Patagonia region of Argentina, has some of the unique prehistoric cave paintings and the cave’s name literally translates to ‘The Cave of Hands’ since the images inside the cave are those of human hands. On entering the cave, one can see a large number of stencils of human hands spray painted on the stone walls. Most of the outlines are those of left hands suggesting that the painters held the spraying hose in their right hands. This cave is one of the foremost attractions in the Patagonia region. Also, please read about most famous works of art.
Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f4/SantaCruz-CuevaManos-P2210651b.jpg/1280px-SantaCruz-CuevaManos-P2210651b.jpg
This cave has one of the few samples of prehistoric cave paintings found in India and is also one of the oldest in the world. The Bhimbetka cave is located in Central India and has paintings depicting the lives of the cave dwelling people as well as the animals they encountered in their daily life. There are paintings of tigers, lions, bulls, and crocodiles along with many others. Red and white are the most commonly used colors in these 12,000-year-old paintings but green and yellow are also occasionally seen. You will also love reading about most famous paintings in the world
Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5d/Bhimbetka_Cave_Paintings.jpg
4. Serra de Capivera
Serra de Capivara is a national park in Brazil and contains several caves with prehistoric paintings, some of which are estimated to be about 25,000 years old. These paintings most commonly depict scenes of group rituals and hunting and also of animals the people saw around them. The date of these paintings is, however, disputed since scientists are unable to agree on how long ago human settlements were present in Brazil.
Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/70/Serra_da_Capivara_-_Several_Paintings_2b.jpg/1024px-Serra_da_Capivara_-_Several_Paintings_2b.jpg
5. Laas Gaal
Since human life is believed to have originated in Africa, it is no surprise that there are multiple prehistoric cave paintings on this continent. The Laas Gaal cave is one such site which is located in Somalia and is an example of some of the earliest cave paintings in the region. The paintings depict scenes of rituals with cows in ceremonial robes, humans performing different activities, domesticated dogs, and giraffes. However, due to the long drawn conflict in Somalia, this cave is not a very popular tourist and nor is its existence well known to people outside the academia.
6. Tadrart Acacus
These prehistoric cave paintings are not concentrated in a few caves but rather scattered over a large mountain range in the Sahara Desert. These paintings can be dated back to 12,000 BC and are one of the most significant prehistoric cave paintings since they give us a glimpse into the climactic conditions of the Sahara. In the paintings, there are many depictions of lakes and forests proving that the climate of the Sahara was much wetter at the time and slowly changed due to desertification.
Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Libya_4924_Pictograms_Tadrart_Acacus_Luca_Galuzzi_2007_cropped.jpg
7. Chauvet Cave
This cave in the South of France has the oldest prehistoric cave paintings known to us and dates back to 32,000 years. However, the discovery of this cave is very recent since it was only in 1994 that Jean-Marie Chauvet, after whom the cave is named, discovered it. Since then it has acquired great prominence in historical research and has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. It is fast developing into a tourist destination in the South of France.
Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/Lions_painting%2C_Chauvet_Cave_%28museum_replica%29.jpg
8. Kakadu Rock Paintings
These rock paintings were made by the aboriginal people of Australia and are estimated to date back more than 20,000 years. There are many cave paintings preserved as part of the Kakadu National Park and there are over 5,000 different sites in this park where paintings have been discovered over time. Some of these paintings depict scenes of human activity while others show drawings of skeletons of animals. This gives an idea of the depth of understanding the aboriginals had about their surroundings.
Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ab/KakaduRockArt.JPG
9. Altamira Cave
The Altamira Cave in Spain is the first sample of prehistoric cave paintings to be discovered in the world and opened up a whole new area of study. When the paintings were first discovered in the 19th century, they were very well preserved and this made people skeptical about the actual date of these paintings. However, later studies showed that these paintings did indeed belong to the prehistoric era. Some of the things painted are shapes of animals, scenes of hunting and community gatherings.
10. Lascaux Paintings
Another cave in Southern France that has prehistoric paintings, this one is known for the beauty of the paintings and contains some of the most famous paintings in the world. This cave is known as the “Prehistoric Sistine Chapel” since it has many iconic cave paintings that date back 17,000 years. The most famous among them isThe Great Hall of the Bulls, depicting bulls, horses, and deer. However, to preserve the paintings, this cave is closed to the public. Tourists can visit a replica of the cave that has been constructed nearby and contains a copy of all the paintings present in the original cave.
A cave painting is much more than a pretty picture. To those knowledgeable in the subject, it can provide a wide variety of information ranging from the climactic conditions of the time, the flora and fauna present there, type of communities and families and instruments used for daily chores. By analyzing the colours used for paintings, the type and placement of pictures, we can also gauge the technologies these people had access to.