Have you ever heard of cavemen? What about the Ice Age? The Ice Age happened around 30,000 years ago. Have you heard of cave paintings or cave drawings? Well if you haven't, now is your time to learn!
First of all, it's hard to estimate exactly when cave drawings were drawn because of the materials the cavemen used to paint with. Also, the location of some of the paintings makes it hard to date them. So it is hard to be sure when these designs were painted or in other words, how old they are.
Most of the cave paintings are found in Europe. A lot of the paintings are found in France. There are two caves in particular where drawings and paintings are most commonly found. These are the Chauvet cave and the cave of Lascaux.
An archeologist named Meg Conkey was actually the person who discovered the Chauvet cave. Meg found the beautifully painted cave by mistake. It was 1994 and apparently no humans had been anywhere near the Chauvet cave for thousands of years. These were the oldest cave paintings ever discovered. These paintings could have been created up to 32,000 years ago, but they look as though they were just painted yesterday. And not only do these paintings have animals on them, the Chauvet cave also has a whole wall full of hand prints. This cave is probably one of the best examples of cave painting ever discovered.
Why did the cavemen draw or paint on their walls? Some people believe that the people who lived in caves just wanted to decorate their walls, as we do today. Some scientists think that because cavemen had no written language they communicated their stories by using pictures instead. For example, if the people had a really successful hunt, they would tell the story of that in their paintings. Other people believe that the cave people thought that painting animals on their walls would make animal spirits come to them and bring good fortune. Others believe that the cave paintings sometimes sent messages to other people passing through or living in the cave in the future. We have not determined if any of the symbols on the cave walls mean anything, and if they do mean something, researchers aren't sure what the meanings are. We may never know for sure.
Today, if you want to make art you have many things you can use. There is paint, crayons, markers, pencils,
pens and a lot of other supplies to use. Since the Ice Age was a long time ago, they had no paint or other things like that. Instead of ink or paint, cavemen used red ochre and black manganese to write with. The inks and dyes they used came from plants, animal blood,
sap and many other things found in nature. Instead of paper or a canvas, the cave painters used the cave's walls instead. This kind of art is called Parietal art.
Marcus, Rebecca B. Prehistoric Cave Paintings. New York, New York: Franklin Watts, 1968.
Copyrighted images of cave drawings and paint from "Microsoft Office Online" <http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/default.aspx?lc=en-us&cag=1> (October-March, 2004-2005). Clip art only available to licensed users for non-commercial purposes.