Cave Art

Please note, that while I share videos in these lessons, I do work hard on making sure that there are no copyright infringements. Every video is linked back and credited to the original creator. Without further ado, here is Cave Art Art Lesson.

Cave Art Fun Facts
  • Also known as parietal art, or simply rock art. 
  • Found across the world, through many different cultures and regions. 
  • The oldest known thus far is 64,000 year old and is located in Spain. It is a handprint. 
  • Common subjects are animals: bison, horses, deer; symbols, hand prints. 

20,000 Year Old Cave Paintings Hyena

Chauvet Cave, France, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A Short Introduction Video by National Geographic.
Hand Stencils

Hands often represented a human presence. Almost akin to “Mariya was here.” graffiti on the wall.

GuaTewet tree of life-LHFage

Lhfage at English Wikipedia, Borneo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lascoux Cave in France

This is probably my favorite part of this part of history. It is how the Lascoux Cave was discovered by a couple of young boys at the beginning of WWII.

You should absolutely listen to this brief video from Videoguide Nouvelle-Aquitaine about the discovery of the Lascoux Cave.

With all of the amazing things we now have available at our fingertips, this is one of my favorite parts. You can take a virtual tour of the Lascaux Cave without ever leaving your house. Please do so, it is worth a few minutes!

Virtual Tour of the Lascoux Cave.
What does it all mean?
  • It was a time of relative peace. War as a concept would not be invented for another 10,000 years. 
  • Unlike today, humans were not the dominating species on Earth. Instead it was fauna and flora. 
  • The paintings either represented something historical, story telling, or something that the people hoped would happen.
  • There is no unified consensus in the scientific community regarding the meaning of cave art. However, it helps us see how their society developed, and how the concepts and ideas spread.

One more awesome video. This is an 8 minute Nat. Geo. video about the geometric signs that appear next to cave art, and it is just fascinating.

Art Assignment:

For this assignment, I would like for you to put yourself into the shoes of an archeologist today. When they look at the cave art and try to figure out what it all means. Then I want you to think about the archeologist way in the future, for example 10,000 years from today. They come across YOUR drawing, the drawing that you did for your assignment! What do they see? What will it tell them about the society today. I encourage you (though do not require) to create your drawing in the same style as many of the Cave Art drawings you have seen: line drawing, followed by brown, red or yellow color details. 

For your drawing you can choose from the following options: 

  • Necessities: What do you or an average human being need to survive in this day and age? Render several objects that you think are an absolute necessity. 
  • Story telling: What is an important, or perhaps a more personal, event that has happened to you this year. 
  • Presence: Make a statement that says, “I AM HERE.”
  • Assurance of survival: So many hunting scenes were indicated in cave paintings. Hunting and gathering was a way of life. Show the future scientists the ways of procuring food for today’s humans. 
More Resources

Article on the meaning of cave art

Up Next:
Mesopotamian Art