ArtsLookUp.com Logo

100 Paleolithic Caves

Famous sites of Stone Age cave art
Highlights: paintings, engravings

Main A-Z Index

CONTENTS

Blombos Cave, an important centre of Middle Stone Age culture
View of Blombos Cave on the SW coast of South Africa. Blombos is a key source of information about human progress during the Middle Paleolithic. Image by Vincent Mourre/Inrap (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Oldest Caves

We begin with a short chronological list of the oldest Stone Age caves around the world, along with their location, and their main artworks, ranging from cupules to engravings and decorative ornaments.

Auditorium Cave
Bhimbetka, India
200,000-500,000 BC
World famous for its nine ancient rock cupules from the Lower Paleolithic dating to at least 200,000 BC but possibly dating to the Acheulean period about 700,000 BC. However, this issue must await new dating technology.

Daraki-Chattan
Indragarh Hill, Bhanpura
200,000-500,000 BC
Also world famous for its 100+ cupules, which 'may' date back to the Acheulean.

Bruniquel Cave Structures
Occitanie, France
175,000 BC
Neanderthal cave famous for its series of speleothem constructions, featuring two ring-shaped structures containing 400 stalagmite pieces (speleofacts) weighing around 2.2 tons. Perhaps the world's oldest example of installation art!

Krapina Rock Shelter
Hušnjakovo Hill, Croatia
130,000 BC
Famous for its 'jewellery' made out of white-tailed eagle claws - the second oldest example of decorative art in the archaeological record, after the Trinil Shell Engravings in Java. Dating confirmed by Electron spin resonance (ESR) and Uranium-Thorium (U-Th) dating technologies.

Los Aviones Cave
Cartagena, Spain
113,000 BC
Famous for its perforated sea shells decorated with red and yellow ochre paint pigments. Third oldest decorative art behind the trinil engravings and the eagle jewellery of Krapina.

Klasies River Caves
Eastern Cape, South Africa
100,000 BC
Famous for its simple linear engravings, believed to be the oldest known art in Africa. Similar works are found at Blombos Cave and Diepkloof.

Blombos Cave
Southern Cape, South Africa
71,000 BC
Site of the world's oldest drawing, featuring nine red lines drawn on rock by early African H. sapiens using an ochre crayon.

Diepkloof Rock Shelter
Western Cape, South Africa
60,000 BC
Noted for the discovery of two dozen ostrich eggshells engraved with geometric crosshatch motifs - similar to the style of art found on pieces of ochre in caves at Blombos, Klasies River, Wonderwerk and Klein Kliphuis.

Back to top

Chronology

Here is a summary of the three stages of the Paleolithic era, with their respective tool cultures.

LOWER PALEOLITHIC
From 3.3 million BC
Includes the Lomekwi, Oldowan and Acheulean cultures.

MIDDLE PALEOLITHIC
300,000-40,000 BC

  • Levallois Culture
    300,000-160,000 BC
  • Mousterian
    160,000-45,000 BC
  • Châtelperronian
    130,000-70,000 BC

UPPER PALEOLITHIC
40,000-10,000 BC

Caves in France

Here is an A-Z list of the most important prehistoric caves in France, together with their location, the date of their oldest cave art, together with their most noteworthy paintings, engravings, sculptural reliefs and abstract signs.

Abri Blanchard
Castel-Merle, Dordogne
36,000 BC
Engraved drawing of an aurochs.

Abri Castanet
Vézère Valley, Dordogne
35,000 BC
Dordogne rock shelter containing engraved images of female genitalia and male phalluses on a collapsed limestone ceiling, along with ochre paintings of horses and some abstract symbols.

Abri Cellier
Vézère Valley, Dordogne
36,000 BC
Famous for an engraving drawing of a wild ox, dated by molecular filtration and Hydroxyproline 14C to 36,000 BC. It is one of the earliest instances of figurative imagery found in western Eurasia, and was likely made by one of the first groups of Homo sapiens to arrive in the Périgord.

Abri de Cro-Magnon
Vézère Valley, Dordogne
33,000 BC
Site of the first discovery, in 1868, of skeletons of modern humans.

Abri de Laussel
Dordogne
23,000 BC
Famous for the 18-inch bas-relief sculpture known as the Venus of Laussel. Originally painted red, it is also called the Venus with a Horn.

Abri du Poisson
Vézère Valley, Dordogne
23,000 BC
Highlights include a 1-metre bas-relief carving of a salmon, plus hundreds of images which look like animal silhouettes, plus numerous abstract symbols (red and black dots and lines).

Abri Reverdit
Vézère Valley, Dordogne
Noted for its limestone frieze of bison and horses.

Aurignac Cave
Haute-Garonne
35,000 BC
The type site of the Aurignacian, the earliest known culture associated exclusively with modern humans in western Eurasia. Noted for hand stencils.

Bara-Bahau Cave
Le Bugue, Dordogne
15,000 BC
Noted for engraved drawings and a variety of abstract signs and symbols.

Baume-Latrone Cave
Sainte-Anastasie, Gard
35,500 BC
Famous for its unique red/brown clay paintings drawn with the fingers. Also noted for several animal pictures featuring a lion surrounded by several mammoths and a rhinoceros.

Bayol Cave
Collias, Gard
17,000 BC
Noted for its cave paintings and abstract signs as well as a prehistoric handprint left by a very young child.

Bédeilhac Cave
Ariège
14,000 BC
Cro-Magnon site noted for its paintings in black and red, as well as its unusual 'clay paintings' and digital tracings (finger fluting). Also decorated with numerous signs including dots, flabelliforms, and handprints.

Bernifal Cave
Petite Beaune, Dordogne
12,000 BC
Highlights include: an engraving of pregnant mare; an engraved panel featuring three pairs of tectiforms (roof shaped signs) on several mammoths; numerous abstract symbols such as flabelliforms, penniforms and multiple parallel lines.

Cantal Cave
Le Verdié, Lot
10,000 BC
Contains an array of dots, pectiforms and other signs, around highly stylized red ochre animal paintings.

Cap Blanc
Beune Valley, Dordogne
13,000 BC
Cap Blanc is the leading exemplar of Magdalenian rock carving. Its 13-metre long limestone frieze of relief sculpture features 14 horses, 13 bison and 2 reindeer, plus about a dozen unidentified animals.

Chauvet Cave
Ardèche
34,500 BC
Discovered in 1994, Chauvet is the benchmark for Aurignacian Art in Europe. Highlights include the Horse Panel and the Panel of Lions and Rhinoceroses. Abstract signs abound, including finger tracings.

Cosquer Cave
Marseille
25,000 BC
Now mostly submerged by a rising Mediterranean, it contains 500 images, half of which depict animals (including some fine black horses and a variety of sea creatures, inc. seals), plus 220 geometric designs, 65 hand stencils, and some small animal engravings next to a submerged shaft. If Cosquer had remained dry, it would contain 800 animal images alone - comparable to Lascaux or Altamira.

Cougnac Cave
Gourdon, Lot
23,000 BC
Famous for its two pictures of wounded men - one with three spears sticking in him, the other with seven. In the same gallery there is a carefully prepared frieze of animals painted in red ochre pigment, including a beautiful image of a long-haired ibex. Cougnac also has several strange aviform signs (Placard signs).

Cussac Cave
Vézère Valley, Dordogne
26,500 BC
Noted for its Gravettian engravings of animals (mammoths, bison, rhinos, horses, ibexes), as well as some birds (geese), plus a strange animal with an open mouth and elongated snout. Silhouettes of female figures, plus a few schematic vulvae, are also present, along with numerous examples of shapeless finger tracings.

Deux-Ouvertures Cave
Ardèche
26,500 BC
Noted for its very fine rock engravings of mammoths, aurochs, bison and ibexes, plus an indistinct form (half-human, half-animal) reminiscent of "The Sorcerer" in Gabillou Cave.

Font de Gaume
Beune Valley, Dordogne
14,000 BC
An outstanding showcase of Magdalenian art, second only to Lascaux as a centre of high quality multi-coloured painting in France. Highlights include: The Licking Reindeer, The Leaping Horse and the Bison frieze.

Fronsac Cave
Vieux Mareuil, Dordogne
28,000-11,000 BC
Home to the largest known collection of schematic female figures in paleolithic cave art.

Gabillou Cave
Isle Valley, Dordogne
13,000 BC
Contains more than 200 engraved images of horses, reindeer, birds, bison, ibex, bears and rabbits. Main highlights include two petroglyphs known as the "Sorcerer", and the "Hare". There are two human figures: one shows a woman giving birth, another - known as the "Sorcerer" - shows a part human, part animal figure, with beard and horns.

Gargas Cave
Hautes-Pyrénées
25,000 BC
Famous for its collection of over 200 hand stencils, in red and black, many seemingly deformed. Also contains over 100 animal engravings. Highlights are the Panel of the Great Bull and the Panel of the Mammoths.

Gouy Cave
Normandy
12,000 BC
Contains a very large number of finely and deeply incised animal drawings. Most famous for its engraving of a stampede of horses and other animals, a rare engraving of a bird, an exceptional bas-relief vulva, and numerous abstract signs, including claviforms, triangles, and crosshatch patterns.

Grande Grotte Arcy-sur-Cure
Yonne
26,700 BC
Contains a diverse collection of 280 paleolithic paintings of mammoths, rhinos, bears and lions, as well as abstract signs. Highlights include a giant deer or Megaloceros whose antlers measure 4 metres in width, and several rare examples of fish (especially pike). Many animal paintings are decorated with dots, rods, scrolls, and other ideomorphs, including trapezoidal figures similar to 'Spanish tectiforms'.

Isturitz, Oxocelhaya & Erberua Caves
Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Occupied 80,000-10,000 BC

Labastide Cave
Hautes-Pyrénées
13,000 BC
Includes Grotte Blanche (White Cave), Porche de la Perte (Cave of the Loss) and the decorated Grotte des Chevaux (Cave of the Horses) noted for its Magdalenian paintings and engravings, as well as numerous cave symbols including the rare aviform sign.

La Ferrassie Cave
Vézère Valley, Dordogne
60,000 BC
Famous for ancient cupules (c.60,000 BC) as well as rock engravings, depicting animal figures, and deeply incised human vulvae dating to the Aurignacian-Gravettian cultures between 30,000 and 26,000 BC.

La Gravette
Couze Valley, Dordogne
28,000 BC
The type site of the Gravettian culture. Its archaeological deposit has allowed us to study the Gravettian culture, the period that gave birth to the famous Venus Figurines, like the Venus of Willendorf and the Venus of Dolní Věstonice.

La Madeleine
Tursac, Dordogne
15,000 BC
The archaeological type site of the Magdalenian culture of the Upper Paleolithic, it is also famous for its carving 'Bison Licking Insect Bite'.

La Roche-Cotard Cave
Loire Valley
55,000 BC
Contains the world's oldest Neanderthal engravings.

Lascaux Cave
Vézère Valley, Dordogne
19,500-13,000 BC
Lascaux is the French showcase of Magdalenian art, although its earliest art dates to 19,500 BC. Highlights include the Hall of the Bulls, the Axial Gallery, the Apse, the Nave and the "Shaft" with its famous drawing of the dead man, the bird and the bison. Many archaeologists consider Lascaux to be the apogee of Franco-Cantabrian cave painting. Lascaux also features a large variety of abstract signs. See also: Vézère Valley Caves.

Laugerie-Basse
Vézère Valley, Dordogne
14,000 BC
Noted for its Venus Impudique and other carvings.

Laugerie-Haute
Vézère Valley, Dordogne
33,000-14,000 BC
Noted for its rock engravings of horses, aurochs and bison, as well as phalluses and vulvae. Very few abstract signs - just lines.

Le Moustier
Vézère Valley, Dordogne
60-40,000 BC
Neanderthal type-site of the Mousterian tool industry.

Le Placard Cave
Charente
17,700 BC
Famous for its bird-like abstract symbols - also seen at Pech Merle Cave, Cougnac Cave, and Cosquer Cave. Because Placard Cave is the only one of the four whose art has been directly dated (to 17,700 BC), the strange aviform symbols it contains have been christened 'Placard-type signs'.

Le Portel Cave
Ariège
12,500 BC
Noted for its black drawings of horses and bison - like the famous 'Circus Horse', and the 'Scene of the Three Bison'. It is also known for its unusual archaeoacoustics, and the fact that its densest clusters of parietal art are located at spots with the greatest sound resonance.

Les Combarelles
Beune Valley, Dordogne
11,700 BC
Home to 600–800 highly naturalistic engraved drawings of animals, some of which are also outlined in black. Its best-known image is the "Drinking Reindeer". Also has 50 human-like figures, and numerous abstract signs including tectiforms, penniforms, ovals, open-angles, lines and claviforms.

Mandrin Cave
Malataverne, Rhône Valley
54,000 BC
Mandrin cave contains the earliest firm evidence of the presence of modern humans (Cro-Magnons) in Europe, including a child's tooth and a modern Neronian toolkit.

Marsoulas Cave
Haut-Garonne
16,000 BC
Noted for its human and animal (bison and horses) figures, especially its pointillist bison. Also famous for its musical instrument made from a conch shell.

Mas d'Azil Cave
Ariège
11,000 BC
Type-site of the Azilian culture (10,500-8,000 BC), the cave is noted above all for its diagnostic 'Azilian Points' and painted pebbles. Other prehistoric art includes: engraved drawings of horses, bison, deer, three rare images of fish and a bird, as well as red dots, circles, half-circles, penniforms, and a series of engraved lines.

Montespan Cave
Haute-Garonne
13,000 BC
Famous for its 'headless bear' relief sculpture, it is also noted for its abstract motifs, like open angle signs, tectiforms, claviforms, quadrangles, and others.

Niaux Cave
Ariège
13,000 BC
Famous for its black paintings, highlights include its Salon Noir imagery, and unique weasel drawing. The cave also contains a quantity of abstract symbols, including more than a hundred red and black dots, dashes, bars and lines, some created with paint brushes, others with fingers. Also noted for its archaeoacoustics.

Pair-non-Pair Cave
Gironde
31,000-24,000 BC
The stratigraphy of the cave shows human occupation by Neanderthals during the Mousterian from 80,000 BC until the arrival of Cro-Magnons around 45,000 BC. Cro-Magnons remained until about 20,000 BC. Pair-non-pair is noted for its engraved drawings of animals (ibex, horses, aurochs, mammoths, and a rare a Megaloceros giganteus deer) most of which are depicted in pairs.

Pech-Merle Cave
Cabrerets, Lot
27,000 BC
Decorated between 27,000 and 13,000 BC, highlights include: The Spotted Horses of Pech-Merle (accompanied by several hand stencils); The Black Frieze of bison and horses; and the "Wounded Man" flanked by several Placard-type aviform signs. Abbé Breuil called Pech Merle the 'Sistine Chapel of the Lot'.

Pergouset Cave
Saint-Géry, Lot
c.13,000 BC
Magdalenian sanctuary, noted for its rock engravings and abstract signs, as well as its hybrid/deformed creatures.

Roc-aux-Sorciers
Angles-sur-Anglin, Vienne
13,000 BC
Famous for its 20-metres frieze which features high reliefs of bison, horses, ibexes and felines, as well as several venuses.

Roc-de-Sers Cave
Charente
17,200 BC
Roc de Sers is called the benchmark of Solutrean prehistoric relief sculpture, because of its artistic form and technique. It is famous for its fourteen carved and painted limestone blocks, decorated with fifty rock engravings and low-reliefs of animals.

Rock of Solutré
Solutré-Pouilly, Mâcon
c.25,000 BC
An important archaeological site, later adopted as the type-site of the Solutrean culture.

Roucadour Cave
Quercy, Lot
27,000 BC
Similar to other caves of the Lot, like Pech Merle and Cougnac, Roucadour's art consists of 150 engravings of horses, megaloceros, bison, aurochs, woolly mammoths and birds, plus a quantity of abstract signs.

Rouffignac Cave
Dordogne
11,000 BC
Known as the 'cave of the hundred mammoths', it contains more than 250 animal images, in the form of black drawings or engravings. Also has a variety of symbols, including circles, half-circles, cruciforms, pectiforms, serpentiforms and tectiforms.

Saint-Cirq (Sorcerer's Cave)
Dordogne
15,000-10,000 BC
Magdalenian rock shelter and cave noted for its finely and deeply engraved drawings of horses, bison, ibex, and a goose, as well as a sculpture of a turtle, and the famous rock carving of a nude male figure, known as the 'sorcerer of Saint-Cirq'.

Sainte-Eulalie Cave
Lot
18,000-12,500 BC
Contains 28 engraved drawings of animals and 31 painted signs.

Trois Frères Cave
Ariège
13,000 BC
Famous for its life-size engraving of a lioness, and the engraved image known as The Sorcerer, a human with the features of several different animals, which is believed to depict a shaman or magician. Also noted for its Gallery of Owls (Galerie des Chouettes), as well as its numerous abstract signs, including claviforms, cruciforms and crosshatch motifs. Located next door to Tuc d'Audoubert.

Tuc d'Audoubert Cave
Ariège
13,000 BC
Famous for its haut-relief clay sculptures of two bison about to mate, plus numerous abstract symbols such as claviforms, cruciforms and crosshatch motifs.

Villars Cave
Dordogne
16,000-15,000 BC
Magdalenian cave noted for its black paintings of horses, bison, aurochs, ibex, a deer head, and a rare image of a human figure charged by a bison. It also contains the famous 'little blue horse'. In addition, there are some engravings plus several abstract female silhouettes, and abstract cave signs.

Caves in Spain

Here is an A-Z list of the most famous Stone Age caves in Spain, along with the age of their best known paleolithic art, including highlights of their painted and engraved drawings.

Aitzbitarte Caves
Basque Country
25,000 BC
Discovered in 2015, three of these caves - Aitzbitarte III, V and IX - contain a collection of engraved animals (bison, horses, aurochs and birds), with characteristics previously seen in France but not Spain.

Altamira Cave
Cantabria
34,000 BC
The first major prehistoric cave to be discovered and the first to be made a UNESCO World Heritage site. Altamira is the centre of Franco-Cantabrian art in Spain. Its oldest artwork is a red claviform sign, but Altamira is best known for its multi-coloured bison ceiling created during the Magdalenian.

Altxerri Cave
Basque Country
37,000 BC
Contains Europe's oldest animal paintings, dating to the Aurignacian. Also noted for its Magdalenian art - mostly engravings. In all it has about 140 images, including animals (92 images, including 53 bison) and abstract signs. Also contains a number of human-like figures.

Ardales Cave
Málaga
63,000 BC
In total, Ardales contains about 1,000 painted images - including red and black animals, abstract signs, hand stencils, and handprints. Its most notable animal painting is the Great Black Deer (Gran Cierva en Negro). However, the site is best known for its primitive Neanderthal artworks (lines of red ochre) which date to at least 63,000 BC, making them some of the oldest art in Europe.

Atxurra Cave
Basque Country
12,500 BC
Noted for its rock engravings of horses and bison - many accentuated with black or red paint. Also noted for a strange composite creature combining bear and reindeer characteristics.

Chufín Cave
Cantabria
16,000 BC
Contains painted and engraved images of animals (bison, horses, deer, and goats), mostly dating to the Magdalenian.

Cova Dones
Near Valencia
22,000 BC
Noted for its red clay animal paintings and its volumized rock engravings.

Covalanas Cave
Cantabria
18,000 BC
Contains over 20 animal paintings in red ochre which are famous for their stippled outlines (made with the fingers). It also has a part-human figure, as well as a quantity of geometric symbols, red and black dots, and lines. The parietal art was produced during the Solutrean and Magdalenian periods, between 18,000 and 12,000 BC.

Ekain Cave
Basque Country
12,000 BC
Famous for its pictures of horses, which rank among the greatest examples of Franco-Cantabrian art of the Magdalenian era. The main highlight is the Great Panel of Horses which was described by the eminent archaeologist André Leroi-Gourhan as "the most perfect group of horses in Quaternary art". Ekain has a total of 70 animal figures: 64 painted, 6 engraved.

El Castillo Cave
Cantabria
39,000 BC
Best known for its panel of red discs, a cruciform sign made up of almost 200 red dots (one of which dates to at least 39,000 BC), a number of engravings of horses in the Rotunda chamber, and the famous bison-man.

Gorham's Cave
Iberian Peninsula
37,000 BC
This Neanderthal cave in Gibraltar is best known for its crosshatch sign, which was dated by accelerator mass spectrometry to 37,000 BC.

La Garma Cave Complex
Cantabria
26,000 BC
Contains about 100 red ochre paintings of animals, a number of geometric signs and red dots, about 40 negative handprints and various items of mobiliary art - mostly bone carvings. These works were produced during two main periods: Gravettian (from 26,000 BC) and Magdalenian (around 13,000 BC).

La Pasiega Cave
Cantabria
62,000 BC
Contains more paleolithic art than any cave in Spain. It has more than 700 different images, 280 of which are animal paintings and 100 are petroglyphs. The rest are abstract symbols, which include: dotted signs, linear signs, claviforms, polygonals, 'Spanish tectiforms' - the most abundant type of symbol in Spanish caves - plus a collection of unique motifs and anthropomorphs. Also contains a famous panel of abstract symbols, known as "The Inscription". Its oldest art is a scalariform sign created by a Neanderthal artist, dated to 62,000 BC.

La Peña de Candamo Cave
Asturias
24,000 BC
Highlights here include painted engravings of bison, deer, horses and ibexes, the mural of horses on the Talud Stalagmite, and the Hall of the Red Signs (dots, lines and other geometric symbols). The most famous engraved drawing is that of a large stag pierced by several spears.

La Pileta Cave
Málaga
18,000 BC
La Pileta contains some 400 paleolithic images, including a host of abstract symbols as well as animal paintings (horses, goats, bulls and ibexes) painted in yellow, orange, red, white and black. There are no engravings. Highlights include a drawing of a giant fish and a pregnant mare with red dot signs. The cave's large collection of abstract signs, include cruciforms, serpentiforms, spirals, 'Spanish tectiforms', zig-zags, and other motifs. Like the site at Nerja, the cave art at La Pileta is dominated by abstract symbols.

Las Chimeneas Cave
Cantabria
15-13,000 BC
Located on Monte Castillo close to La Pasiega and El Castillo, the Cave of the Chimneys contains various panels of macaroni-type finger tracings - known as finger fluting - in the soft clay. In addition, it has a number of black animal paintings, together with some quadrangles. Its oldest art in the cave (a sign) dates to 15,000 BC, while a deer image dates to 14,000 BC.

Maltravieso Cave
Extremadura
64,700 BC
Contains animal paintings as well as abstract signs, but it's the 70 or so hand stencils outlined in red pigment, that dominate. They are also exceptionally old, and are Uranium-Thorium dated to at least 64,700 BC. This makes them the oldest cave art in Europe.

Nerja Cave
Málaga
10,000 BC
This 4-kilometre long cave contains nearly 600 cave paintings, but is best known for its pictures of seals. Also noted for its unique speleothem - a combination of stalactite and stalagmite - roughly 32 metres in height.

Pindal Cave
Asturias
16,000 BC
Contains numerous paintings of horses and bison, plus fish and mammoths, as well as abstract symbols. Both red and black colours are used. The cave art dates to between 16,000 and 11,000 BC.

Santimamiñe Cave
Basque Country
12,000 BC
Noted for its lengthy occupation by Neanderthals (Mousterian and Chatelperronian cultures) and later by Cro-Magnon modern man (Aurignacian), Santimamiñe is best known for its prehistoric art of the late Magdalenian period (black charcoal drawings of horses, ibex, bison, and deer), dating to about 12,000 BC.

Tito Bustillo Cave
Asturias
34,000 BC
Renowned for its red and black paintings of horses, notably those in the "Galeria de los Caballos", and its unusual use of red and dark violet colour pigments. Highlights include the Chamber of Vulvas, the Anthropomorph Gallery, and the Gallery of Horses. Its oldest art consists of a human-like figure in red ochre; the remainder dates from the Solutrean and Magdalenian.

Back to top

Caves Around the World

Here is an alphabetical list of the most famous prehistoric caves outside France and Spain, along with the age of their oldest prehistoric art, and highlights of their best known pictures and petroglyphs.

Addaura Caves
Monte Pellegrino, Sicily
10,000 BC
Famous for its unique scene of an apparent ritualistic sacrifice or punishment, featuring over a dozen human figures.

Apollo 11 Cave
Huns Mountains, SW Namibia
25,500 BC
Contains the oldest animal paintings in Africa, consisting of seven small slabs of quartzite, decorated with charcoal and ochre images.

Bacho Kiro Cave
Central Bulgaria
43,000 BC
Until Mandrin Cave was excavated, Bacho Kiro contained the earliest traces of Cro-Magnon modern humans arriving in Europe.

Cathole Cave
Gower Peninsula, Wales
12,500 BC
Contains the oldest art in UK - a 15 x 11 cm engraved cervid – probably a stylised reindeer.

Coliboaia Cave
Apuseni Natural Pk Romania
30,000 BC
Has the oldest rock art in Central or SE Europe - eight charcoal drawings and at least one engraving carbon dated to the Aurignacian.

Creswell Crags
Notts/Derby border, UK
10,800 BC
The northernmost paleolithic cave art in Europe - animal and bird engravings in Church Hole Cave.

Cueva de las Manos
Patagonia, Argentina
7,300 BC
Rock shelter in remote canyon famous for its collages of hand stencils and other handprints.

East Kalimantan Caves
Borneo, Indonesia
38,000 BC
Its most famous site is Lubang Jeriji Saleh (see below)

Fumane Cave
Lessini Hills, Italy
34,500 BC
Famous for its paintings in red ochre, notably an animal with a long neck (perhaps a weasel), a strange five-legged creature, and an anthropomorphic figure - known as "The Shaman" - wearing a mask with horns.

Kapova Cave
Bashkortostan, Russia
14,500 BC
The most easterly site of cave art in Europe, Kapova is famous for its red ochre paintings of mammoths and horses, dating to the Magdalenian. Represents the oldest cave painting in Russia.

Koonalda Cave
South Australia
18,000 BC
The walls and ceiling of this limestone sink-hole, located deep below the burning hot surface of the Nullarbor Plain, are pitted with lattices, grids and herringbone patterns of finger fluting (digital tracings) and stick markings.

Leang Tedongnge Cave
Maros-Pangkep, Sulawesi
43,500 BC
World's oldest figurative painting

Leang Bulu' Sipong 4 Cave
Maros-Pangkep, Sulawesi
41,900 BC
World's oldest paintings of humans. The Sulawesi cave art shows that painting first appeared not in Europe, but in the hands of modern humans heading towards Australia.

Leang Timpuseng Cave
Maros-Pangkep, Sulawesi
37,900 BC
World's second oldest hand stencil

Lubang Jeriji Saleh Cave
East Kalimantan, Borneo
38,000 BC
Best-known for a 2-metre long red-orange painting of a wild cow, wounded by a spear, and for a hand stencil dated to 37,400 BC.

Nawarla Gabarnmang
Arnhem Land N.T.
26,000 BC
This rock shelter contains the oldest authenticated Aboriginal rock art in Australia, namely a faded charcoal drawing of 2 crossed lines with some infill.

Vogelherd Cave
Swabian Jura
38,000 BC
Along with other Swabian caves at Hohlenstein-Stadel, Geißenklosterle and Hohle Fels, Vogelherd Cave is famous for the discovery of several ancient mammoth ivory sculptures, including the oldest known animal carving (woolly mammoth), plus the oldest known 3-D representations of lions and horses.

For more about the evolution of cave art, see: Timeline of Prehistoric Art (from 540,000 BC).

Back to top


Home