Prehistoric Cave Sites
In the Beginning, God Was a Woman
- Mary Kilbourne Matossian
Venus of Hohle Fels
Venus of Hohle Fels (Germany)
c. 35,000 BCE











Human with feline head
animal facing left from the Apollo 11 Cave
Human with feline head, Germany,
ca. 30,000 - 28,000 BCE.
Mammoth ivory. 11 5/8 " high.
Animal facing left from the Apollo 11 Cave, Namibia,
ca. 23,000 BCE.











Early humans used a surprising range of materials and techniques
while creating what we now call "prehistoric art."
Bison from Altamira
They drew and painted
Bison from the Altamira Cave, Spain,
ca. 15,000 - 10,000 BCE.











utilizing both abstract and realistic imagery.
Bison from La Madeleine cave, France, ca. 12,000 BCE.
Reindeer horn, length 4".











A study by Genevieve von Petzinger (University of Victoria) has identified 26 symbols that repeatedly appear as prehistoric art over 25,000 years over four continents. Von Petzinger and Professor April Nowell studied the ancient symbols from 146 different sites in France and were able to compare the signs over much a larger scale than had previously been attempted.
The 26 specific signs may provide some evidence that a common graphic code was being used by ancient humans after their arrival into Europe from Africa. At least 19 symbols were used frequently (circles, lines, triangles and spirals) over many thousands of years which could indicate consistent abstract ideas such as life and death.











They often stamped
Palm dots, Chauvet Cave, ca. 30,000 - 28,000 BCE.











and stenciled.
Hands at El Castillo
The smudged red disk below the hand stencils is the oldest cave art yet dated, at 40,800 years old. Located in El Castillo cave in the Cantabria region of northern Spain, this image might have been created by Neanderthals.











They adorned their bodies with non-utilitarian articles.
Brassempouy Woman
Woman of Brassempouy
Woman from Brassempouy, France, ca. 25,000 - 20,000 BCE.
Ivory, height 1 1/4".











They made subtractive sculpture,
Woman holding bison horn
Woman holding a bison horn, from Laussel, France, ca. 25,000 - 20,000 BCE.











additive sculpture,
Two Bison from the cave at Le Tuc d"Audoubert
Two Bison reliefs from the cave at Le Tuc d'Audoubert, France. ca. 15,000 - 10,000 BCE.











and (eventually), they also made installation art!
Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England, ca. 2550 - 1600 BCE.











Prehistoric Cave Sites

Paleolithic Cave Sites










Wounded Bison

Wounded Bison, detail of a painted ceiling in the cave at Altamira, Spain, ca. 13,000 - 11,000 BCE.











Don Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola and Daughter Maria











Axial Gallery

Axial Gallery, Altamira Cave, c. 13,000 - 10,000 BCE.






















Mammoth Bone House

Modern reconstruction of Mammoth Bone House
based on sites in Russia & Ukraine c. 12,000 - 18,000 years ago











Discovered on September 12, 1940 by Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agnel, and Simon Coencas











Hall of Bulls, Lascaux

Hall of the Bulls in the cave at Lascaux Cave, France, ca. 16,000 - 14,000 BCE.











Left wall of the Hall of the Bulls in the cave at Lascaux Cave, France, ca. 16,000 - 14,000 BCE.
Largest bull 11' 6" long.











virtual tour of Lascaux












Female aurochs and a "Chinese horse," Lascaux, ca. 16,000 - 14,000 BCE.


Some 300 animal figures are depicted at Lascaux cave; including horses, rhinoceros, lions, buffalo, mammoth, reindeer, ibex, stags, arrochs, a red panther, and an engraved owl.












Lascaux Lamp

Lamp found at Lascaux cave, buried in the floor of the Shaft at Lascaux by l'Abbé Glory, ca.19,000 BCE.
Red sandstone, 8 3/4 inches long by 4 3/16 inches wide and 1 1/4 inches thick.











Artist's rendition of prehistoric scaffolding











Shaft of the Dead Man, Lascaux

The "Shaft of the Dead Man," Rhinoceros, wounded man, and disemboweled bison, Lascaux, ca. 16,000 - 14,000 BCE.