The Caves Speak

Cave art emerged approximately 40, 000 years ago, executed by the Cro-Magnon people in Spain. While the exact purpose of such Paleolithic cave paintings is not known, evidence suggests that cave paintings may have been a way of communication.

One common form of communication for religious and ceremonial purposes was through depicting nature in art. The ancient people painted the large beasts they wanted to hunt to share their interests with others. While many of Old Stone Age animal species have reached extinction, their presence still stares back at us in early cave paintings.

The Lascaux and the Chauvet caves in France remain the most recognized for their abstract figures accompanied by naturalistic representations. Lascaux’s paintings are 16, 000 years old and represent mostly herbivorous mammals such as wild horses, wild cattle and reindeer. Chauvet’s paintings date even further back to 31, 000 years ago and represent mostly dangerous animals including lions, bears and giant deer. Natural pigments used include red and yellow ochre, hematite, manganese oxide and charcoal, used to create artistic paintings that demonstrate early interests in nature.