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Prehistoric Art

15,000 B.C. -4,500 B.C.

What is Prehistoric Art?

Prehistoric art is art
that was created
before cultures began
recording written

Lion Man of

Because early humans did not have a written language, much of our
knowledge about their lives comes from their art.
They created their art by painting and scratching pictures of animals
on walls of caves.
They used rocks to carve, burnt sticks to draw, brushes made from
hair, and paint made from various dirts and minterals.

Does the animal

look lifelike?
What effect
does the lack of
scenery have
on the animals
apparent size
Bison of Altamira Caves
Santillana, Spain
15,000 - 10,000 B.C.

How does this

compare to
the image of
the bull?
What action
is suggested
in this work?
Chinese Horse, Lascaux
Dordogne, France
15,000 - 10,000 B.C.

Outside of Lascaux
Caves in France

Lascaux caves contains many

separate chambers or rooms

Chamber of the Bulls

Note that the

two bulls are
drawn in very
styles. What
can we
gather from

Chamber of the Felines

Artists would blow pigment

dust around their hand to
create a handprint to use as
their signature.

What was the purpose of

these cave paintings?
Hunting Rituals
Hunters may have believed that, by drawing a lifelike
picture of an animal, they were capturing some of that
animals spirit.

Recording History
There was no written language, so perhaps hunters
used these images to record events to share with
future generations.

Detailed relief sculptures carved

in stone or horn survive as
evidence of prehistoric artists
carving skills. Rock carvings have
been discovered throughout
England, Spain, France, and
Germany, as well as Malta and
the Canary Islands.

Spiral Petroglyph

Spiral Carvings, Newgrange, Ireland

Ancient megaliths, or large

monuments created from huge
stone slabs are scattered
across Europe, India, Asia, and
even the Americas.
Ruins of circular arrangements
of huge stones are found all
over Europe, dating back to
4,000 B.C.

The most famous of these is Stonehenge.

Stonehenge is located in England.

Built in 2000 B.C.
A large (100 ft in diameter) ring of stones
with three progressively smaller rings
The tallest stone is 17 feet high and weighs
over 50 tons.
Built using post-and-lintel construction.

Why was Stonehenge built?

No one is entirely sure why Stonehenge was built; today most scholars think it
serves as an astronomical observatory, enabling prehistoric people to make
accurate predictions about the seasons.
Many other questions have baffled scholars and scientists as well. How did people
working with primitive tools quarry and transport these huge rocks? How did they
raise them into position?