Cave Paintings are paintings on cave walls and ceilings, usually dating to prehistoric times. The earliest known European cave paintings date to 32,000 years ago. Join us to discover the top twenty most fascinating prehistoric cave paintings.
1Lascaux Cave Paintings: the prehistoric Sistine Chapel
Known as “the prehistoric Sistine Chapel,” the Lascaux Caves, a cave complex in southwestern France, contain some of the most remarkable paleolithic cave paintings in the world, from at least 15,000 years ago.
The cave was discovered on 12 September 1940 by four teenagers, Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agnel, and Simon Coencas, as well as Ravidat’s dog, Robot. Public access was made easier after World War II. By 1955, the carbon dioxide produced by 1,200 visitors per day had visibly damaged the paintings. The cave was closed to the public in 1963 in order to preserve the art.
2Altamira Cave Paintings: as Picasso famously exclaimed, “after Altamira, all is decadence”
3Chauvet Cave Paintings: spectacular artwork
The cave is uncharacteristically large and the quality, quantity, and condition of the artwork found on its walls has been called spectacular. It appears to have been occupied by humans during two distinct periods: the Aurignacian and the Gravettian. Most of the artwork dates to the earlier, Aurignacian, era (30,000 to 32,000 years ago). The later Gravettian occupation, which occurred 25,000 to 27,000 years ago, left little but a child’s footprint, the charred remains of ancient hearths and carbon smoke stains from torches that lit the caves.
4Magura Cave Paintings: peeking into the prehistoric world
Through pictures information about religous events and feasts along with their smbols and particular personages were saved. Some of the images are very complex compositions and hint about the diversity of ideas in a world extremely rich in intellectual and spiritual aspect. The Magura drawings define its function as a temple for a long period of time – from The Neolith till The Iron age.
5Cosquer Cave Paintings: an underwater cave from up to 27,000 years ago
The cave contains several dozen painting and carvings dating back to Upper Paleolithic, matching two different phases of occupation of the cave:Older drawings of hand stencils and other related motifs, dating back to 27,000 BP (Gravettian); and newer drawings of signs and animal drawings dating back to 19,000 BP (Solutrean), representing both “classical” animals such as bisons, ibexes, and horses but also marine animals such as seals and what appear to be auks and jellyfish.
6Font de Gaume Cave Paintings: the best example of polychrome painting
In 1901, Denis Peyrony, a school teacher from Les Eyzies, discovered the paintings inside Font de Gaume. The paintings date from around 17000 BC, during the Magdalénien period. However, many of the cave’s paintings were discovered much later. The cave’s most famous painting, a frieze of five bison was discovered accidentally in 1966 while scientists were cleaning the cave. Font de Gaume holds over 200 polychrome paintings and is considered the best example of polychrome painting other than Lascaux, which is now closed to the public. The paintings in Font de Gaume include depictions of more than 80 bison, approximately 40 horse depictions, and more than 20 mammoth depictions.