Glossary

What is Cave Painting?

A cave painting is a form of ancient art where art was created on cave walls or rocks. Created during the Stone Age, these works of art were often made with natural substances like charcoal and ochre, and the paint was applied with simple tools and hands.


Presence of Cave Paintings Around the World


Europe


The first cave paintings to be discovered were in Europe, where soon afterwards, many more sites were uncovered. Some of the most famous European sites that showcase cave paintings are:


  • Lascaux, France

  • La Marche, near Lussac-les-Chateaux, France

  • Chauvet Cave, near Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, France

  • Cosquer Cave, with an entrance below sea level near Marseille, France

  • Font de Gaume, in the Dordogne Valley in France

  • Altamira, near Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain

  • Cave of El Castillo in northern Spain


Africa


At Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg, South Africa, now thought to be some 3,000 years old, the paintings by the San people who settled in the area some 8,000 years ago depict animals and humans, and are thought to represent religious beliefs. An archeological team discovered the Laas Gaa'l cave paintings outside Hargeisa in Somaliland. Cave paintings are found in the Tassili n'Ajjer mountains in southeast Algeria also in the Akakus, Messak Settafet and Tadrart in Libya and other Sahara regions including Ayr mountains, Niger and Tibesti, Chad.


Australia


In Australia, Kakadu National Park has discovered early cave paintings. The park has a large collection of ochre paintings. Since Ochre is not an organic material, carbon dating of these pictures is impossible. Sometimes the approximate date, or at least, an epoch, can be guessed from the content. Additionally, cave paintings can be found in other locations such as: 


  • Quinkan Country, QLD

  • Burrup Peninsula, Pilbara, WA

  • The Grampians National Park, VIC

  • Preminghana, TAS

  • Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, NSW

  • The Kimberley, WA

Mexico


The Rock Paintings of Sierra de San Francisco is the name given to prehistoric rock art found in the Sierra de San Francisco region of Baja California, Mexico. These paintings are assumed to be created by a group of people referred to as Cochimi or Guachimis. There are some 250 sites which are located in the municipality of Mulege within the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve in the state of Baja California Sur in Northern Mexico. These paintings showcase human figures, weapons, and animal species such as rabbit, puma, lynx, deer, wild goat/sheep, whale, turtle, tuna, sardine, octopus, eagle, and pelican


Southeast Asia


In Thailand, caves and scarps along the Thai-Burmese border, in the Petchabun Range of Central Thailand, and overlooking the Mekong River in Nakorn Sawan Province, all contain galleries of rock paintings.


In Malaysia the oldest paintings are at Gua Tambun in Perak, dated at 2000 years, and those in the Painted Cave at Niah Caves National Park are 1200 years old.


In Indonesia the caves at Maros in Sulawesi are famous for their hand prints, also found in caves in the Sangkulirang area of Kalimantan.

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