Cave Paintings

By | September 9, 2016

In September 1940, four teenage boys set out to try and find a secret passageway rumored to exist near their French village. What they discovered was a cave system decorated with hundreds of paintings of prehistoric animals. They’d found the 17,000-year-old Lascaux cave paintings, now famous the world over.

KILLER BIRDS

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This rock art in northern Australia is thought to be more than 40,000 years old. It shows two giant, flesh-eating, flightless birds known as Genyornis. Nearby are paintings of giant prehistoric kangaroos and Tasmanian tigers.

ICE AGE HERDS

Lascaux was painted during the ice age, when northern Europe was buried under sheets of ice but France was a treeless, windswept tundra, crossed by huge herds of wild animals. The people who painted the cave were hunters, but, oddly, they didn’t paint their favorite prey—caribou.

ON THE RUN

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Stags painted in Lascaux Cave – France

Stags and horses are among the most common animals in Lascaux. Many appear to be moving, as though running in herds. Such animals migrated across the tundra during the last ice age, just as caribou do today.

BEAUTIFUL BISON

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Cave painters used a mineral called red ocher to color many of the animals. This picture shows a European bison, a species that later disappeared from western Europe but is now being reintroduced.

 

LASCAUX ANIMALS

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Aurochs – Lascaux Cave

The Lascaux animals include prehistoric species that no longer exist, such as mammoths and the aurochs (the wild ancestor of the domestic cow, shown above with huge horns). There are also lions, bison, hundreds of horses, stags, one bear, and one rhino.

Predators

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Chauvet Cave – France

Lascaux is just one of several painted caves found in France and Spain. Chauvet Cave in southern France contains paintings up to 30,000 years old and features predators such as lions, hyenas, panthers, and bears, as well as mammoths and rhinos.

LIONS

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Lions were among the animals painted at Chauvet Cave in France. Now found only in Africa and Asia, lions lived throughout Europe in prehistoric times.

HAND ART

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Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos – Argentina

Prehistoric artists created handprints by placing a hand on the cave wall and spitting red ocher all over it.

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