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Amazing Cave Paintings from 32,000 - 9,000 BC!!

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posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 04:34 PM
G'day ATS,

I've wanted to do this thread for a while now but have been too busy/lazy. I also doubted if this was up ATS's alley. Anyway I thought I'd present a selection of some of the finest examples (IMO) of cave art from around the world. I don't want to run foul of the new (and correct) guidelines regarding quoting, so I'm going to bring you as many images that I can (from common sources), then give a link for you to click on to see the very best.

These are in no particular order, except for the last one which is my absolute favourite!!


This cave is just beautiful, there are approximately 2,000 paintings that have been dated to around 15,000BC. The paintings are predominately of animals, humans and abstract shapes.

I found the most awesome virtual tour of the cave and the best paintings. I really recommend THIS site to anyone, you'll be blown away I promise:

I also found this on photopedia, a selection of ten photos in sideshow format, worth a look for sure!

For a look at some amazing high quality, newly released images please follow the link below:

LIFE Inside Lascaux: Rare, Unpublished


Also in France like Lascaux, these too date from around 17,000BC but the cave itself has shown evidence of occupation since 25,000BC.

There are many polychrome paintings and some engravings. The 240 figures show 80 bisons, which are the dominant motive. Most other pictures are also animals, 40 mammoths, 23 horses, 17 reindeers and deer, eight primitive cow, four goats, a wolf, a bear, and two rhinoceroses. More interesting, but less frequent, are four hand outlines and 19 geometric figures.
The Dordogne Info

I'm having a hell of a time finding some links to high quality images of this place. As of initial post I still had no luck, I'll add them to the thread if I come across some! Apologies ATS!


The property represents the apogee of Paleolithic cave art that developed across Europe, from the Urals to the Iberian Peninusula, from 35,000 to 11,000 BC. Because of their deep galleries, isolated from external climatic influences, these caves are particularly well preserved. The caves are inscribed as masterpieces of creative genius and as the humanity’s earliest accomplished art.
UNESCO World Heratige

On their discovery in Spain in 1880, it was believed that the paintings were far too complex and beautiful to have been made by cave dwelling humans. A debate ensued involving leading archaeologists and even the Church. Being the first such cave paintings to be discovered, until similar discoveries were made it wasn't widely accepted that prehistoric man was capable of creating such beautiful, articulate and accurate depictions of the natural world they saw around them. This makes the Altamira Caves even more important to archaeologists.


edit on 16-9-2010 by kiwifoot because: faulty link

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 04:35 PM

Containing the earliest known examples of rock paintings (the oldest from 32,000BC!!) this is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. This site, also in France was only discovered in 1994!!

The discovery caused a shock. Specialists and non-specialists alike immediately recognized its importance and originality for several reasons. First, the nature of the bestiary represented is very unusual, with rhinoceroses, lions and bears. The animals most often depicted in Paleolithic caverns are the same as those that were hunted, even if their proportions do not exactly match those represented by the faunal remains found at habitation sites. At Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc, dangerous animals, who did not figure on Paleolithic menus, are largely dominant (more than 60% of identified species if we count mammoth).

The techniques utilized to represent the animals are also surprising, especially the use of shading and perspective. These refinements contrast greatly with the images that we are accustomed to seeing.
CHAUVET Cave Officail Site

For more images and further info, please visit the links below.

Bradshaw Foundation Expedition 1999

Bradshaw Foundation Expedition 2001

Experience Ardeche Gallery of Images

CUEVA DE LAS MANOS (Cave of the Hands) WIKIlink

This is my personal favourite, and to illustrate why, let me simply show you THIS:

Just beautiful, imagine the hands of people nine thousand years ago making these paintings.

The Cueva de las Manos, Río Pinturas, contains an exceptional assemblage of cave art, executed between 13,000 and 9,500 years ago. It takes its name (Cave of the Hands) from the stencilled outlines of human hands in the cave, but there are also many depictions of animals, such as guanacos (Lama guanicoe), still commonly found in the region, as well as hunting scenes. The people responsible for the paintings may have been the ancestors of the historic hunter-gatherer communities of Patagonia found by European settlers in the 19th century.

UNESCO World Heritage

These paintings may not be as numerous or detailed as others, but in my eyes they are awesome. here's why:

Granted, this painting seems rather basic when considered in the light of my previous examples, but this for me really captivates me:

The left hand of a prehistoric artist, amazing, I hope I get to visit this one day. it's on my ever expanding list!!

I hope you've enjoyed these few examples. I had a few more, but they paled in comparison to these, maybe I'll compile a "Part 2" if this one goes down well.

All the best ATS, kiwi

edit on 16-9-2010 by kiwifoot because: faulty link

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 04:57 PM
Wow! Those are just amazing--especially the one with all the hands. Thanks for this post--I'll be perusing these pics in the coming days for sure.

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 05:05 PM
What interesting to me is not the drawing/art it self, but how do they do it in the cave ? Using torch to light up ? Didnt saw any soot. Looks like they dont leave any torch around. Even with torch, imagine how hard to draw the details/shading. The hands are pretty hard to do coz its like airbrushed over the hands, see how well dispersed the paint over the hand.

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 05:06 PM
reply to post by kiwifoot

Thank you kiwifoot!

I have always wondered why some cultures cannot draw anything more than a stick figure and then some cultures created such life-like images. Even through our most recent past there are those cultures that just cannot visualize form through art, yet some are absolutely perfect to scale. To me it doesn't make sense.

I like the "Gallery of Hands" too, it appears to be the same person. At first I thought this was an entire tribe, but it seems that all the hands look identical. There seems to be only a few 'right' hands depicted. It is a shame they did not do faces; I imagine that saw the recreating of something as a Spiritual Entity with a life of its own and depicting people in real-time would be like stealing their soul or essence.

I live in the Desert SW of America and I have found countless Indian petroglyphs and drawings, most here are very primitive in their depictions, but those from our earliest ancestors are incredible. S&F

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 05:07 PM
The paintings are amazing and beautiful in their own right, but I wish I could go back in time and teach them how to draw properly.
We might know more about them that way. Actually the animals are so stylized, that maybe painting them in an anatomically-correct way was not the point. Either way it surprises me that all the cave paintings I've seen, the animals all look inherently the same; small heads, big bodies, short, thin legs. Was there nobody back then who was able to depict them exactly as they were? Charcoal is enough to put in all the little details and muscle structure, even on stone walls. Having hunted them on a daily basis one would think they'd learn how to draw them properly. Or have we just evolved so much that the artists of today have a better photographic memory and are better at depicting proportions and space? I've always been really curious about this. I'm still waiting to see that cave painting that will blow me away with detail and correct anatomy.

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 05:11 PM
Thanks kiwifoot for another cool thread! I likes em with lots of pictures! That link for the virtual cave tour was awesome
Threads like this is what I look forward to here on ATS. When I see you posting something in the ancient civilizations forums I know I will not be disappointed! Keep up the good work!!!

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 05:25 PM
I saw a program once about Australia and the hand paintings there were like these. But, some aborigines showed how they put whatever powder-like material they were using in their mouth and sspifffit it out like an airbrush effect over and around their hands. Pretty interesting. Thanks for the post.

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 05:34 PM

Originally posted by kiwifoot

That is a lot of right handed people .

If my memory serves me, the images are made by blowing a pipe filled with the dusty pigment over their left hand-which is placed against the wall .(holding the pipe with their more dexterous right hand).

It would be interesting to see if their are any right hand prints on the walls . Perhaps there are in the photo above .. not certain.


I also recall hearing a story that an over zealous French boy scout troupe, cleaned some `graffiti ` from a cave in Southern France..


Great thread .

In 1992, a troop of Les Eclaireurs de France (a French Protestant youth group similar to the Boy Scouts) went to la Grotte des Mayrières Supérieures, a cave in the Tarn-et-Garonne region of southern France, to clean off graffiti that covered the cave walls. However, after having removed the graffiti, they discovered that the "graffiti" had actually been prehistoric cave paintings between 10,000 and 15,000 years old, the only such paintings that had ever found in that part of France


Altamira Bison .

edit on 16-9-2010 by UmbraSumus because: edit to correct dates /add picture /tidy up.

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 05:39 PM
Very nice. The hands are awesome, but the ones of bison and early horses are also quite remarkable.
I think I saw what looks to be a bear too, and perhaps a wild boar. I was surprised to find no birds.

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 05:48 PM
How come whenevr I look at cave paintings, I get wicked deja vu, and nostagia?

The picture with the hands, really looks like spray paint. Does anyone else notice that?

good thread s&f

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 05:57 PM
Those hands look to be female.
The other that was by itself looked male, and his art wasn't as fine.

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 11:06 PM

Originally posted by Myendica
How come whenevr I look at cave paintings, I get wicked deja vu, and nostagia?

Dunno about the nostalgia, but many of those are very famous pictures, and I'd seen several of them before. They are always worth another look, though. I'd never seen that crazy one with all the hands though, that was neat. All kinds of possible symbolic meanings behind that one, but who knows what the original artists were thinking?

posted on Sep, 17 2010 @ 12:03 AM
Amazing! I love things like this!!!! I too am surprised that we never see birds depicted in these cave drawings. I look forward to seeing more. Thanks!!

posted on Sep, 17 2010 @ 01:11 AM
reply to post by UmbraSumus

It would be interesting to see if their are any right hand prints on the walls . Perhaps there are in the photo above .. not certain.

I can see a few righties. bottom right..

Nice thread OP, s&f

posted on Sep, 17 2010 @ 03:28 AM
Thanks everyone for your kind words of appreciation.

LIW, I hadn't noticed that before, but now you come to mention it, the lack of birds is kind of strange!!

I wonder if anyone noticed this image:

It's of an owl looking back, it seems the owl has inspired, scared and intrigued us for many thousands of years!!

All the best, kiwi

posted on Sep, 17 2010 @ 08:08 AM
reply to post by kiwifoot
I think definitely an owl there, it may be looking forward, though. If the species of owl they were depicting had stripes running down its breast area.

Thank you for this OP! It is beautiful! S&F!

posted on Sep, 17 2010 @ 09:58 AM
Maybe they had there own da vinci and said go hither and paint thine cave walls! for we know but stick men.

It's an owl, facing forward.

bloody good thread Kiwifoot. thanks.

edit on 17-9-2010 by Jimjolnir because: okay maybe the owl isn't facing forward

posted on Sep, 17 2010 @ 10:18 AM
In a great many cases of badly drawn cave paintings, ugly mis-shapen and simplistic animal clay models, etc, the thing you have to remember is that children aren't a recent invention. I would say that here we have an example of this, and are probably looking at the work of both adults and children.

posted on Sep, 17 2010 @ 01:10 PM

Originally posted by TheIrvy
In a great many cases of badly drawn cave paintings, ugly mis-shapen and simplistic animal clay models, etc, the thing you have to remember is that children aren't a recent invention. I would say that here we have an example of this, and are probably looking at the work of both adults and children.

Good point, but on the other hand if you're living in this cave, do you want your kids scribbling on the walls, or would you have someone who's considered artistically inclined painting your walls? I don't see any beginner-type art here... the kind you'd see from very young kids. While the paintings are not extraordinary anatomically, they are very purposefully done, and the technique doesn't look very simple. The person painting obviously has artistic talent, though maybe not as developed as say Michaelangelo. Maybe these served the purpose of teaching kids about the animals important to the tribe, or maybe they were decorative.

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