Not just another drawing on the wall

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Prehistoric cave paintings give us a little peek into the lives of our early ancestors. Newer and better technologies have provided archeologists with very good dates when some of these paintings were produced.

The first figurative artworks found on cave walls depict objects or figures of the natural world. Some of these were found on the walls of Lascaux cave in southwest France by four teenage boys and a mongrel dog in 1940. At this time, France was in the grip of Nazism. After the war, the site became a world shrine of Cro-Magnon cave art.

More than 600 paintings and 1500 engravings make up what is perhaps the finest collection of prehistoric art in the world. These images have been found to be some 17,000 years old.

In the decades since this discovery, archeologists have found even older rock art dating to around 30,000 to 40,000 years ago. This art work includes depictions of animals and stylized symbols. The findings have been found on cave walls located in France and Spain.

Recently, the well-preserved painting of a warty pig has been discovered on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. It is one of the oldest known depictions of a real-world life form. This animal is still found on Sulawesi. It was painted on a cave's back wall at least 45,000 years ago as reported in a science journal. The nearly life-size depiction of the small native warty pig was rendered using red ochre.

Several hundred other caves in the region have been found to contain early human wall art. For example, a 14.7 foot panel was found that features reddish-brown forms that appear to depict human-like figures hunting local animal species.

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