Some of the best examples of this form of painting are the Gargas Cave Hand Stencils (Haute-Garonne), the Panel of Hand Stencils at Chauvet (Ardeche), and the prints throughout the Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands) in Argentina.
According to this theory, the development of cave art coincided with the displacement of Neanderthal man by anatomically modern man, starting around 40,000 BCE.
Indeed, it was from about this date that the earliest rock art began to emerge in caves and rock shelters around the world, but especially throughout the Franco-Cantabrian region.
Definition, Characteristics Origins and History Types Cave Painting in 3 Stages Where are Most Cave Paintings Located? What Sort of Pictures were Painted in Prehistoric Caves?
What Painting Methods Did Stone Age Artists Use?
These images have been dated to at least 39,000 BCE and 35,500 BCE respectively, making them the oldest art of their type from a cave in Europe.
However, in 2014 in Indonesia, on the other side of the world, archeologists used Uranium-Thorium dating techniques to date hand stencils among the images found at Leang Timpuseng Cave, Sulawesi, to 37,900 BCE.
The largest cave clusters are in the Dordogne (Lascaux, Cussac, Laussel, Font-de-Gaume, Les Combarelles, Rouffignac), and around Monte Castillo in the district of Puente Viesgo, Cantabria, but other magnificently decorated caves have been found in various parts of the world - including South Africa, Argentina, India, China, Australia and elsewhere.
At present, the earliest art in prehistoric caves, whose dates of origin have been authenticated by radiocarbon dating, consists of abstract signs - namely a red dot and a hand print - found among the El Castillo cave paintings in Cantabria, Spain.
Thus we see the monochrome paintings of Aurignacian culture (40-25,000 BCE) give way to the polychrome art of the Gravettian (25-20,000 BCE), leading to the apogee of cave painting which is traditionally acknowledged to occur during the Magdalenian era (c.15-10,000 BCE) at Lascaux, Altamira, Font de Gaume and Les Combarelles.
During the Late Magdalenian, the Ice Age ended and a period of global warming led to the destruction of the Magdalenian reindeer habitat, along with its culture and its cave art.
How did Prehistoric Artists Obtain their Paint Colours?