Cueva de las Manos located Perito Moreno, Argentina. Cave paintings are also known as “parietal art”. The exact purpose of the Paleolithic cave paintings is not painting by numbers for children. The earliest known cave paintings are at least 64,000 years old.
Represented by three red non-figurative symbols found in the caves of Maltravieso, Ardales and La Pasiega, Spain, these predate the arrival of modern humans to Europe by at least 20,000 years and thus must have been made by Neanderthals. 35,000 years old and were found in caves in the district of Maros, located in Bantimurung district, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, according to datings announced in 2014. Previously it was believed that the earliest figurative paintings were in Europe. Nearly 340 caves have now been discovered in France and Spain that contain art from prehistoric times. The oldest known cave painting is a red hand stencil in Maltravieso cave, Cáceres, Spain. It has been dated using the uranium-thorium method to older than 67,000 years and was made by a Neanderthal. The earliest known European figurative cave paintings are those of Chauvet Cave in France.
BCE, coinciding with the advent of the Neolithic period. Some caves probably continued to be painted over a period of several thousands of years. The next phase of surviving European prehistoric painting, the rock art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin, was very different, concentrating on large assemblies of smaller and much less detailed figures, with at least as many humans as animals. The most common subjects in cave paintings are large wild animals, such as bison, horses, aurochs, and deer, and tracings of human hands as well as abstract patterns, called finger flutings. But these include the group of Venus figurines, which have no real equivalent in cave paintings.
These are often found in the same caves as other paintings, or may be the only form of painting in a location. Some walls contain many hand stencils. Similar hands are also painted in the usual fashion. Henri Breuil interpreted the paintings as being hunting magic, meant to increase the number of animals.
Another theory, developed by David Lewis-Williams and broadly based on ethnographic studies of contemporary hunter-gatherer societies, is that the paintings were made by paleolithic shamans. Dale Guthrie, who has studied both highly artistic and publicized paintings and a variety of lower quality art and figurines, identifies a wide range of skill and ages among the artists. San rock paintings from the Western Cape in South Africa. Drakensberg Park, South Africa, now thought to be some 3,000 years old, the paintings by the San people who settled in the area some 8,000 years ago depict animals and humans, and are thought to represent religious beliefs. Cave paintings at the Laas Geel complex in northern Somaliland.