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The Oldest Forms of Art Discovered

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Art is considered to be one of the most important facets of human culture. The oldest forms of art dating back to tens of thousands of years have been discovered; a clear symbolisation of its varied richness. From some abstract lines to complex figurines, art has evolved a long way through centuries. Here is a list of the oldest forms of art discovered till date.

Venus of Hohle Fels

This form of art was discovered in south-western Germany which is believed to be created between 35,000 and 40,000 BC. This unique mammoth ivory sculpture of a female figure was known as the Venus of Hohle Fels or the Venus of Schelklingen. Discovered in 2008 by Nicholas J. Conard with his team of archaeologists, this precious sculpture is the most famous Venus figurine ever discovered.

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Lion Man of the Hohlenstein Stadel

This carved piece of mammoth ivory is known for its fascinating art depicting a figurine of a lion’s head on a man’s body. Discovered in 1939 in Germany, this prehistoric art is believed to have been created between 38,000 and 40,000 BCE. The Lion Man of the Hohlenstein Stadel is also the oldest known animal-shaped (zoomorphic) sculpture in the world.

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Sulawesi Cave Art

Discovered in Sulawesi, Indonesia, this cave art consists of hand stencilling believed to be created in 37,900 BC. The Sulawesi cave art painting is the second oldest painting after El Castillo cave painting which dates back to 39,000 BC.

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El Castillo Cave Paintings

These cave paintings dates back to 39,000 BC and are known to be oldest of their kind. They contain abstract signs and hand stencils on the rock face. The paintings were discovered by archaeologist Hermilio Alcalde Del Rio.

the-oldest-arts-discovered

La Ferrassie Cave Cupules

Discovered in France, cave cupule is one of the oldest known art forms. This form of art has been believed to be practiced around the three eras of the Stone Age. The cup shaped depressions, though not regarded as pretty, are important in studying the cultural practices of the early human beings. These cupules have been found to date back between 40,000 and 60,000 BCE.

the-oldest-arts-discovered

Diepkloof Eggshell Engravings

Dating to approximately 60,000 BC, the Diepkloof Rock Shelter situated in Western Cape, South Africa, have marvellous eggshell engravings. Various abstract art techniques have been carved onto an ostrich eggshell which was discovered in early 2010. The different colours of the eggshell fragments were the result of accidental drop in fire as was believed by the researchers.

the-oldest-arts-discovered

Cave of Maltravieso

Located in Spain, the hand stencils in this cave dates back to 64,000 to 66,700 years ago. Since the paintings are so old, researchers believe they were made by the Neanderthals and not by Homo sapiens although there is no direct evidence for it. Currently, the paintings of this cave are the oldest known paintings which were made using a red ochre pigment.

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Blombos Cave Rock Art

Discovered in 2002, the Blombos cave engravings located in South Africa dates back to 70,000 BC. The art contains two pieces of ochre rock engraved with geometric abstract signs. Their discovery suggests that early humans were capable of creating and understanding abstraction and symbols.

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Venus of Tan-Tan

One of the oldest pieces of prehistoric sculpture, the Venus of Tan-Tan is around 6 cm in length and 2.6 cm in width. Discovered in the river Draa near the Moroccan town of Tan-Tan, this artwork was created between 200,000 and 500,000 BC in the pre-Homo sapiens era.

the-oldest-arts-discovered

Venus of Berekhat Ram

This piece of art is controversial for its nature of origin, whether it was carved by a person or formed naturally. The Venus of Berekhat Ram dates back to 230,000 to 700,000 BCE and was discovered in 1981. Microscopic analysis of the rock has revealed marks were made by sharp edged tool. This prehistoric sculpture is thought to be created by earlier hominids such as Homo erectus.

the-oldest-arts-discovered

Bhimbetka Petroglyphs

Located in Madhya Pradesh, India, these rock carvings are the oldest known form of art dating back to 290,000 to 700,000 BCE. The rock carvings primarily consist of cupules and were discovered in two ancient quartzite caves. The Bhimbetka Petroglyphs are almost four times older than the Blombos Cave Rock Art. Apart from the petroglyphs, the Bhimbetka rock shelters are home to other examples of paleolithic art and over 500 cave murals.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Ankita B (author) on October 03, 2020:

I like the hand stencils too, Lora. Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I am delighted that you enjoyed reading this article.

Lora Hollings on October 03, 2020:

This is a fascinating article, Ankita. My favorites, out of this amazing collection, is the Lion Man and the Sulawesi cave art with it’s hand stencils. I really enjoyed your very well written and interesting article! Thanks for sharing.

Ankita B (author) on October 03, 2020:

True indeed, JC. There is so much to be discovered and known. Thank you for your insightful comments which I always appreciate. I am glad you visited.

Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on October 03, 2020:

"Located in Madhya Pradesh, India, these rock carvings are the oldest known form of art dating back to 290,000 to 700,000 BCE." If we were making art 700,000 ya, what civilizations existed at that time? There is much undiscovered and unknown. How many great civilizations have risen and fallen?

Ankita B (author) on October 03, 2020:

Thank you Rosina for your lovely comments which I appreciate. I am glad you enjoyed reading this article.

Rosina S Khan on October 03, 2020:

I enjoyed this article which presents beautifully ancient forms of art with fascinating illustrations. Good work, Ankita.

Ankita B (author) on August 27, 2020:

True Denise. Thank you for reading and commenting. Your lovely comments are appreciated always.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 27, 2020:

I love this kind of ancient art and all the research that goes into dating it. It seems art therapy has been around a very long time.

Blessings,

Denise

Ankita B (author) on August 16, 2020:

Thank you Sannyasi. I appreciate your comment and your visit.

Sannyasi Raja from Durgapur, West Bengal, India on August 16, 2020:

Your knowledge of art is very good .Thanks for sharing

Ankita B (author) on August 13, 2020:

I appreciate your kind comments Vandna. Thank you for reading and commenting.

thoughtsprocess from Navsari (India) on August 12, 2020:

This is an amazing article. Thank you so much for sharing Ankita.

Ankita B (author) on August 09, 2020:

Thank you very much Umesh Chandra for your kind comments. I truly appreciate it.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on August 09, 2020:

Well researched article. Amazing.

Ankita B (author) on August 03, 2020:

I am delighted to know that you loved reading this article. Thank you Bhavna.

Bhavna from India on August 03, 2020:

This is marvellous, amazed to know about these ancient art practices

Ankita B (author) on August 02, 2020:

Thank you so much Abby for the appreciation. I am glad you enjoyed reading this.

Abby Slutsky from America on August 02, 2020:

It is so interesting how art evolves over time. You did a nice job of discussing and sharing some of these ancient carvings.

Ankita B (author) on August 02, 2020:

Thank you very much Eric. I am delighted to know that you enjoyed reading this article.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 02, 2020:

Wow! This is really cool. Thanks. I will share this with my boy.

Ankita B (author) on August 02, 2020:

Thank you Munawar for your kind comments. I am glad you enjoyed reading this article.

Ankita B (author) on August 02, 2020:

Yes Jay C, those questions are still unanswerable. Thank you for your insightful comments. Much appreciated.

Dr Sleep from kot adu on August 02, 2020:

Presenting such an amzing art is also art ..Awesome

Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on August 02, 2020:

If art shows high cognative thinking, what kind of civilizations existed 200-300,000 years ago? How many cities and towns are undiscovered? How many cultures rose and fell in that time frame? The Hindu legends speak of prior cities and warfare.

Ankita B (author) on August 02, 2020:

Yes we can always look back and admire these fascinating creations. Thank you Lorna for your comments. I am glad you enjoyed reading this.

Lorna Lamon on August 02, 2020:

I have always been fascinated by ancient art and this is a wonderful article with lots of incredible examples. I am glad we can look back and admire these creations. Thank you for sharing Ankita.

Ankita B (author) on August 01, 2020:

Thank you so much Liz. Your kind comments are always appreciated.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 01, 2020:

This is a amazing collection of ancient art. You have collected together interesting information and images.

Ankita B (author) on August 01, 2020:

True indeed FlourishAnyway. Thank you for your lovely comments. I am glad you enjoyed reading this article.

Ankita B (author) on August 01, 2020:

Thank you Danny. Your kind comments are appreciated as always.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 01, 2020:

Thanks for sharing this information. It’s special that this art lasted such a long time and that people had the inclination to create it such a extensive time back in history.

Danny from India on August 01, 2020:

This is an amazing article Ankita. Many unique art forms listed by you.