This is a descriptive list of art from the Stone Age, the period of prehistory characterised by the widespread use of stone tools. This page contains, by sheer volume of the artwork discovered, a very incomplete list of the works of the painters, sculptors, and other artists who created what we now call prehistoric art. For fuller lists see Art of the Upper Paleolithic, Art of the Middle Paleolithic, and Category:Prehistoric art and its many sub-categories.
In this Bradshaw rock painting from Australia the artist portrays tasseled costumed figures in various poses or actions.
Montastruc decorated stone is an app. 13,000 years old scratched or engraved human figure on a piece of limestone – which appears to be female –used as a lamp. From Courbet Cave, France, it now resides in the British Museum.
In September 2018, scientists reported the discovery of the earliest known drawing by Homo sapiens, which is estimated to be 73,000 years old, much earlier than the 43,000 years old artifacts understood to be the earliest known modern human drawings found previously.
Altamira cave (Spain) – in 1879 the first prehistoric paintings and drawings were discovered in this cave, which soon became famous for their depth of color and depictions of animals, hands, and abstract shapes.
Bhimbetka rock shelters (India) – the shelters, decorated with art from 30,000 years ago, contain the oldest evidence of artists exhibiting their work on the Indian sub-continent.
Bradshaw rock paintings (Australia) – Aboriginal artists painted well over a million paintings in this site in the Kimberley, many of human figures ornamented with accessories such as bags, tassels and headdresses. These artworks are well over 20,000 years old.
Chauvet Cave (France) – some of the earliest cave paintings known, and considered among the most important prehistoric art sites.
Chufin cave (Spain) – small cave with engravings, stick figures, and artwork schematically portraying red deer, goats and cattle.
Coliboaia cave (Romania) contains the oldest known cave paintings of Central Europe, radiocarbon dated to 32,000 and 35,000 BP, corresponding to the Aurignacian and Gravettian cultures of the Paleolithic period.
Cuciulat cave (Romania) features several red paintings of animals, including horses and felines, which are about 12,000 years old. These were the first manifestations of this kind known in Central Europe.
Cueva de las Manos (Cave of Hands) (Argentina) – a series of caves exhibiting hundreds of outlines of human hands, hunting scenes, and animals painted 13,000 to 9,000 years ago.
Côa Valley (Portugal) – artists engraved thousands of drawings of horses and other animal, human and abstract figures in open-air artwork completed 22,000 to 10,000 years ago.
El Castillo cave, one of the Monte Castillo caves (Spain) – contains decorations in red ochre paint which has been blown onto the walls in the forms of hand stencils as long as 37,000 years ago, and painted dots. One faint red dot has been dated to 40,800 years ago, making it the oldest dated cave decoration in the world. It is 5,000-10,000 years older than caves so-far found in France.
Font-de-Gaume in south-west France contains over 200 polychrome paintings and engravings from artists who worked over 17,000 years ago. The cave's most famous painting is a frieze of five bison, although renditions of many other animals, including wolves, are featured.
Gabarnmung (Australia) – this rock-art site in the Northern Territory features the oldest artwork in Australia at over 28,000 years. Aboriginal artists painted fish, crocodiles, people, and spiritual figures, mostly on the site's ceilings.
Caves of Gargas, France, features numerous negative hand stencils, some with one or more fingers absent.
Lascaux caves (France) – contains some of the best known artworks of early painters, many of those portraying large animals.
La Marche (France) – due to the style the legitimacy of the cave paintings here are in dispute.
La Pasiega cave (Spain) – an art gallery created in prehistoric times, the exhibition of artwork here runs for at least 120 meters. Contains ladder-shaped abstract drawings dated to older than 64,800 years and thus presumably the work of Neanderthal artists.
Les Combarelles (France) – two galleries showcase more than 600 engravings. The more-than-11,000-year-old artwork portrays such subjects as reindeer drinking water from the river that flows through the cave, cave bears, cave lions, mammoths, and various symbols.
Tadrart Acacus (Libya) – rock art with engravings of humans and flora and fauna, which date from 12,000 BCE to 100 CE.
Tassili n'Ajjer (Algeria) – over 15,000 pastoral and natural engravings; the earliest rock art is from around 12,000 years before present, with most dating to the 9th and 10th millennia BP or younger.
Toquepala Caves (Peru) – "Abrigo del Diablo" and the other caves contain at least 50 noted pieces. The artists used paint made from hematite, and painted in seven colors with red being dominant.
The Venus of Monruz is an 11,000 year-old stylized pendant, 18 mm in height.
Prehistoric figurines made from stone, ceramic or other materials have been found around the world. Notable examples included the Venus figurines of Upper Palaeolithic Europe and female anthropomorphic figurines from Neolithic Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe.
Venus of Dolní Věstonice is a Venus figurine, a ceramic statuette of a nude female figure dated to 29,000–25,000 BCE (Gravettian industry). It was found at the Paleolithic site Dolní Věstonice in the Moravian basin south of Brno, in the base of Děvín Mountain (Czech Republic).
^Clottes, Jean (2003). Chauvet Cave: The Art of Earliest Times. Paul G. Bahn (translator). University of Utah Press. ISBN 0-87480-758-1. Translation of La Grotte Chauvet, l'art des origins, Éditions du Seuil, 2001, p. 214.
The Bare Island projectile point is a stone projectile point of prehistoric indigenous peoples of North America. It was named by Fred Kinsey in 1959 for examples recovered at the Kent-Halley site on Bare Island in Pennsylvania.
Dating to the last Ice Age (Upper Palaeolithic), this decorated fragment of a perforated antler baton was discovered in 1863 by Edouard Lartet and Henry Christy at the Abri de la Madeleine, an overhanging cliff situated near Tursac, in the Dordogne département and the Aquitaine Région of South-Western France. This is the type-site for the Magdalenian culture. It was bequeathed to the British Museum by Christy, and is now catalogued as Palart.310, but not normally on display (see below for current exhibition). The baton is 16.6 cm long, 5.5 cm wide and 3 cm thick. The fragment is broken at both ends and is distinguished by a near-cylindrical section, which is interrupted on one side by a horse motif, and on the other side by three deeply cut grooves.
The baton has one perforated hole in the near centre, with a deep groove above it, which runs long ways just below the upper edge. Directly to the left of the perforated hole is an image of a horse; this faces to the right, and appears in low-relief. The figure has a large eye, a high angular shaped mane, and small forelegs that seem to sweep backwards. There are two incised V shapes on its flank – that might suggest injury – or more likely movement.
The occurrence of a large eye is a feature found on other baton examples excavated at La Madeleine.
Bird stones are prehistoric, abstract stone carvings made by Native Americans. The artifacts were a common inclusion in graves and thought to have ceremonial importance. They are noted for their distinctive simplicity and beauty. They first appeared in the middle Archaic period around 5,000 years ago and continued into the early Woodland period to about 2,500 years before present.The exact purpose of these artifacts is not known, but most have a small hole drilled at the base of the neck and another at the aft end, presumably for mounting. Some theories suggest they were part of an atlatl (a short rod to hurl spears), in addition to their ceremonial uses. It has also been suggested that these artifacts were worn as decorative items denoting marriage status or pregnancy, and as totems representing tribes.Bird stones were mostly made east of the Mississippi, and the thousands in existence have been found primarily in New York, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. The stones range in length from 3 to 6 inches, and have unique variations in style. Most are ground from grayish green, banded slate, and occasionally porphyry.
from Greek: κίστη or Germanic Kiste) is a small stone-built coffin-like box or ossuary used to hold the bodies of the dead. Examples can be found across Europe and in the Middle East.
A cist may have been associated with other monuments, perhaps under a cairn or long barrow. Several cists are sometimes found close together within the same cairn or barrow. Often ornaments have been found within an excavated cist, indicating the wealth or prominence of the interred individual.
This old word is preserved in the Swedish language, where "kista" is the word for a funerary coffin.
A Cumberland point is a lithic projectile point, attached to a spear and used as a hunting tool. These sturdy points were intended for use as thrusting weapons and employed by various mid-Paleo-Indians (c. 11,000 BP) in the Southeastern US in the killing of large game mammals.
Enkapune Ya Muto, also known as Twilight Cave, is a Late Stone Age site on the Mau Escarpment of Kenya. Beads made of perforated ostrich egg shells found at the site have been dated to 40,000 years ago. The beads found at the site represent the early human use of personal ornaments.
Folsom points are a distinct form of knapped stone projectile points associated with the Folsom tradition of North America. The style of tool-making was named after the Folsom Site located in Folsom, New Mexico, where the first sample was found by George McJunkin within the bone structure of a bison in 1908. The Folsom point was identified as a unique style of projectile point in 1926.
A Grattoir de côté (translates from French as Side Scraper) is an archaeological term for a ridged variety of steep-scrapers distinguished by a working edge on one side. They were found at various archaeological sites in Lebanon including Ain Cheikh and Jdeideh II and are suggested to date to Upper Paleolithic stages three or four (Antelian).
In archaeology, a grinding slab is a ground stone artifact generally used to grind plant materials into usable size, though some slabs were used to shape other ground stone artifacts. Some grinding stones are portable; others are not and, in fact, may be part of a stone outcropping.
Grinding slabs used for plant processing typically acted as a coarse surface against which plant materials were ground using a portable hand stone, or mano ("hand" in Spanish). Variant grinding slabs are referred to as metates or querns, and have a ground-out bowl. Like all ground stone artifacts, grinding slabs are made of large-grained materials such as granite, basalt, or similar tool stones.
Lamoka projectile points are stone projectile points manufactured by Native Americans what is now the northeastern United States, generally in the time interval of 3500-2500 B.C. They predate the invention of the bow and arrow, and are therefore not true "arrowheads", but rather atlatl dart points. They derive their name from the specimens found at the Lamoka site in Schuyler County, New York.
The Magdalenian (also Madelenian; French: Magdalénien) cultures are later cultures of the Upper Paleolithic in western Europe, dating from around 17,000 to 12,000 years ago. It is named after the type site of La Madeleine, a rock shelter located in the Vézère valley, commune of Tursac, in the Dordogne department of France.
Originally termed L'âge du renne (the Age of the Reindeer) by Édouard Lartet and Henry Christy, the first systematic excavators of the type site, in their publication of 1875, the Magdalenian is synonymous in many people's minds with reindeer hunters, although Magdalenian sites also contain extensive evidence for the hunting of red deer, horses, and other large mammals present in Europe toward the end of the last ice age. The culture was geographically widespread, and later Magdalenian sites have been found from Portugal in the west to Poland in the east. It is the third epoch of Gabriel de Mortillet's cave chronology system, corresponding roughly to the Late Pleistocene.
The Pesse canoe is believed to be the world's oldest known boat, and certainly the oldest known canoe. Carbon dating indicates that the boat was constructed during the early mesolithic period between 8040 BCE and 7510 BCE. It is now in the Drents Museum in Assen, Netherlands.
In archeology, Plano point is flaked stone projectile points and tools created by the various Plano cultures of the North American Great Plains between 9000 BC and 6000 BC for hunting, and possibly to kill other humans.
They are bifacially worked and have been divided into numerous sub-groups based on variations in size, shape and function including Alberta points, Cody points, Frederick points, Eden points and Scottsbluff points. Plano points do not include the hollowing or 'fluting' found in Clovis and Folsom points.
In archeology, a racloir, also known as racloirs sur talon (French for scraper on the platform), is a certain type of flint tool made by prehistoric peoples.
It is a type of side scraper distinctive of Mousterian assemblages. It is created from a flint flake and looks like a large scraper. As well as being used for scraping hides and bark, it may also have been used as a knife. Racloirs are most associated with the Neanderthal Mousterian industry. These racloirs are retouched along the ridge between the striking platform and the dorsal face. They have shaped edges and are modified by abrupt flaking from the dorsal face.
Santimamiñe cave, Kortezubi, Biscay, Basque Country, Spain, is one of the most important archaeological sites of the Basque Country, including a nearly complete sequence from the Middle Paleolithic to the Iron Age.Its complete sequence includes the following cultures:
AzilianPlus unclassified remains of the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze and Iron ages.
It is best known for its mural paintings of the Magdalenian period, depicting bisons, horses, goats and deers.
Its excellent location over the Urdaibai estuary was probably most important in its continued habitation, first by Neanderthals and later by Homo sapiens.
Since 2008, it is one of the caves included as a World Heritage Site within "Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain".
In archaeology, a tool stone is a type of stone that is used to manufacture stone tools,
or stones used as the raw material for tools.Generally speaking, tools that require a sharp edge are made using cryptocrystalline materials that fracture in an easily controlled conchoidal manner.
Cryptocrystalline tool stones include flint and chert, which are fine-grained sedimentary materials; rhyolite and felsite, which are igneous flowstones; and obsidian, a form of natural glass created by igneous processes. These materials fracture in a predictable fashion, and are easily resharpened. For more information on this subject, see lithic reduction.
Large-grained materials, such as basalt, granite, and sandstone, may also be used as tool stones, but for a very different purpose: they are ideal for ground stone artifacts. Whereas cryptocrystalline materials are most useful for killing and processing animals, large-grained materials are usually used for processing plant matter. Their rough faces often make excellent surfaces for grinding plant seeds. With much effort, some large-grained stones may be ground down into awls, adzes, and axes.
In archeology, a uniface is a specific type of stone tool that has been flaked on one surface only. There are two general classes of uniface tools: modified flakes—and formalized tools, which display deliberate, systematic modification of the marginal edges, evidently formed for a specific purpose.
The Yubetsu technique (湧別技法, Yūbetsu gihō) is a special technique to make microblades, proposed by Japanese scholar Yoshizaki in 1961, based on his finds in some Upper Palaeolithic sites in Hokkaido, Japan, which date from c. 13,000 bp.
The name comes from the Yūbetsu River (湧別川, Yubetsugawa), on the right bank of which the Shirataki (白滝遺跡, Shirataki Iseki) Palaeolithic sites were discovered.
To make microblades by this technique, a large biface is made into a core which looks like a tall carinated scraper. Then one lateral edge of the bifacial core is removed, producing at first a triangular spall. After, more edge removals will produce ski spalls of parallel surfaces.
This technique was also used from Mongolia to Kamchatka Peninsula during the later Pleistocene.
This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.