Cave Paintings & Rock Art Illustration

Early Humans for Kids
Cave Paintings & Rock Art

Why did Cro-Magnon man cover the walls and ceilings of hidden caves with paintings by many different people?  Was it bragging; was it to appease the gods?  Was it to aid in hunting or teaching?  We just don't know.

How did they find these caves?  They painted in the same caves, so they must have known where they were.  The land around these caves was hard to reach.  Yet, Cro-Magnon painters sought out these caves.  The entrances to the stone caves were narrow, cramped, and tight.  The painters had to crawl or squirm through them to get to the large natural chambers in the cave where they painted their pictures.  The painters had to bring their light (a torch or spoon lamp) and their paints, while crawling.  But nothing seemed to stop them.  It must have been very important to these early people to add their art to the art already in the cave.

The painting done by early man was not done in charcoal, but in naturally occurring pigments such as red (iron oxide) or black (manganese).  The animals were drawn with attention to detail, but the people were usually stick figures.  Many of these early man artists also drew outlines of their hands.  Was this a way of signing their art?

Interestingly enough, these caves and their paintings were not found by archeologists.  The first caves with cave paintings were found in France.  Some children, playing in the woods, discovered the entrance to a cave, long forgotten.  The entrance was hidden by a tree.  Once the first cave had been found, and its importance realized, people started looking for more caves and found them.  It is very likely that more caves with more cave paintings are still waiting to be found.

Cave paintings (animated, video)

The Cave at Lascaux, France

Prehistoric Art, Cave Paintings (PowerPoints)