World's Oldest Stone Age Art
100 Most Ancient Cave Paintings, Engravings, Petroglyphs and Carvings.

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Venus of Moravany (c.24- 22,000 BCE)
Mammoth Ivory Figurine Carving
of Obese Nude Female.
Discovered at Moravany, Slovakia.
These extraordinary statuettes rank
among the oldest art on the planet,
yet their purpose remains a mystery.

OLDEST STONE AGE ART: The Top 100 Artworks

Top 10

1. Bhimbetka and Daraki-Chattan Cupules (290-700,000 BCE)
2. Venus of Berekhat Ram (230-700,000 BCE)
3. Venus of Tan-Tan (200-500,000 BCE)
4. Blombos Cave Engravings (70,000 BCE)
5. Diepkloof Eggshell Engravings (60,000 BCE)
6. La Ferrassie Cave Petroglyphs (60,000 BCE)
7. El Castillo Cave Paintings (Red Disk) (39,000 BCE)
8. Sulawesi Cave Art (37,900 BCE)
9. Lion Man of the Hohlenstein Stadel (38,000 BCE)
10. Venus of Hohle Fels (38,000-33,000 BCE)

• For artworks numbered 11-100, see below.

• For more facts about the oldest Paleolithic culture, see: Earliest Art.
• For a guide to the period, see: Prehistoric Art (from 2.5 million BCE)
• To put these artifacts into context, see: Prehistoric Art Timeline.



Lascaux Cave Murals (17,000 BCE).
Among the most beautiful examples
of parietal art from the Paleolithic era.

The earliest Stone Age art comprises
strange cup-shaped indentations on
rock surfaces known as "cupules".
They were first created during
the Lower & Middle Paleolithic
eras of the Pleistocene Epoch -
from 2.5 million to 40,000 BCE.

OLDEST WORKS 11-100

11. Gorham's Cave Engraving (37,000 BCE)
Neanderthal abstract etchings on dolomite stone.
Aurignacian culture.
Southeast face of the Rock of Gibraltar.

12. Abri Castanet Engravings (35,000 BCE)
Engraved drawings and abstract symbols.
Aurignacian culture.
Commune de Sergeac, Dordogne, France.

13. Fumane Cave Paintings (35,000 BCE)
Figurative images of animals and anthropomorphic figure.
The oldest art in Italy and the oldest figure painting in the world.
Aurignacian culture.
In the Lessini Hills, Verona, Italy.

14. Altamira Cave Paintings (34,000 BCE)
Club-shaped pictographs (claviforms) in red ochre.
Aurignacian culture.
Antillana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain.
Note: Altamira's animal paintings date to the Magdalenian (c.15,000 BCE)

15. Ivory Carvings of the Swabian Jura (from 33,000 BCE)
Small mammoth ivory sculptures of animals (mammoth, lion, horse and others). Among the earliest examples of mobiliary art of the Upper Paleolithic, during which Neanderthal Man was displaced by modern man.
Aurignacian culture.
Vogelherd Cave, Swabian Jura, Germany.


Drawing of a weasel at Niaux Cave
(Reseau Clastres) c.13,000 BCE.
The artist used 10 exact strokes.


Maikop Gold Bull (2500 BCE) Russia
An exquisite example of goldsmithing
from the Caucasus.


Bronze Head with Gold Foil Mask
(c.1100 BCE) One of the magnificent
monumental Chinese bronzes from
Sanxingdui, Guanghanin, Sichuan.

16. Chauvet Cave Paintings (30,000 BCE)
Animal paintings, abstract symbols, red ochre handprints, hand stencils, palm prints. Second oldest figurative cave painting in the world.
Aurignacian culture.
Ardeche Valley, Rhone-Alpes, France.

17. Burrup Peninsula Rock Art (from 30,000 BCE but unconfirmed)
Prehistoric rock engravings, drawings of human figures and extinct animals. Some petroglyphs are believed to be at least 30,000 BCE.
Pre-Estuarine Culture. Pilbara, Western Australia.
(See also: the early phase of Kimberley Rock Art, which includes cupules, contact prints, handprints, and hand stencils predating the later Bradshaws, detailed below.)

18. Ubirr Rock Art (from 30,000 BCE but unconfirmed)
Ancient Aborigine art galleries believed to date to 30,000 BCE.
Pre-Estuarine Culture and later.
Kakadu National Park, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia.

19. Venus of Galgenberg (Stratzing Figurine) (c.28,000 BCE)
3-inch high sculpture carved out of green serpentine rock.
Aurignacian Culture.
Galgenberg, Stratzing, Lower Austria.

20. Grotte des Deux-Ouvertures /Cave of Two Openings (26,500 BCE)
Noted for its rock engravings and pictographs, featuring some 30 figures including woolly mammoths and aurochs.
Aurignacian Culture.
Ardeche Valley, Rhone-Alpes, France.

21. Nawarla Gabarnmang Rock Shelter Charcoal Drawing (26,000 BCE)
Oldest carbon-dated Aboriginal art in Australia.
Nawarla Gabarnmang, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia.

22. Venus of Dolni Vestonice (26,000-24,000 BCE)
Ceramic clay fertility symbol of an obese female. Oldest ceramic art ever.
Gravettian Culture.
Czech Republic.

23. Venus of Monpazier (25,000 BCE)
Limonite stone statuette, one of the most ancient Venus figurines, and the oldest known French sculpture.
Gravettian Culture.
Dordogne, France.

24. Apollo 11 Cave Stones (25,500 BCE)
Animal figure paintings in charcoal and red ochre.
Oldest African cave painting known to Paleolithic art.
Apollo 11 Caves, Huns Mountains, SW Namibia, Africa.

25. Venus of Willendorf (25,000 BCE)
Painted oolitic limestone sculpture of obese woman.
Gravettian Culture.
Natural History Museum, Vienna.

26. Cosquer Cave Paintings (25,000 BCE)
Hand stencil art and cave paintings, as well as abstract symbols.
Gravettian Culture.
Cosquer Cave, Calanque de Morgiou, Marseille, France.
See also the National Museum of Archeology, Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

27. Cussac Cave Engravings (25,000 BCE)
Large scale drawings of animals, stylistically similar to those at Pech Merle.
Gravettian Culture.
Le Buisson-de-Cadouin, Dordogne, France.

28. Pech-Merle Cave Paintings (25,000 BCE)
Famous for its multi-coloured charcoal and red ochre pictures of Dappled Horses, hand stencils and abstract symbols.
Gravettian Culture.
Pech-Merle Cave, Cabrerets, France.

29. Gargas Cave Hand Stencils (25,000 BCE)
Prehistoric engravings and paintings, hand stencils and handprints.
Gravettian Culture.
Hautes-Pyrenees, France.

30. Venus of Savignano (24,000 BCE)
Armless, serpentine stone carving of female figure.
Gravettian Culture - see: Gravettian Art (25,000-20,000 BCE)
Panaro River, Italy.

31. Roucadour Cave Art (c.24,000 BCE)
Contains hand stencils, engraved drawings of animals and abstract signs.
Gravettian Culture.
Themines, Quercy, Lot, France.

32. Venus of Moravany (24,000 BCE)
Mammoth ivory figurine carving of female figure.
Gravettian Culture.
Moravany nad Vahom, Piestany, Slovakia.

33. Cougnac Cave (23,000 BCE)
Paintings and charcoal drawings of deer, megaloceros, ibex and mammoths, as well as human-type figures and hand stencils (painted in the Magdalenian era)
Gravettian Culture.
Gourdon, Lot, France.

34. Venus of Laussel (23,000 BCE)
18-inch high limestone bas-relief sculpture of reclining female figure.
Gravettian Culture.
Musee d'Aquitaine, Bordeaux, France.

35. Venus of Brassempouy (23,000 BCE)
Mammoth ivory carving of head & face of female: first ever portrait art.
Gravettian Culture.
Brassempouy Rock Shelter, Landes, France.

 

36. Abri du Poisson Cave (23,000 BCE)
Bas-relief limestone sculpture of a salmon, carved on the ceiling.
Gravettian Culture.
Les Eyzies de Tayac, Perigord, Dordogne, France.

37. Venus of Lespugue (23,000 BCE)
Mammoth tusk ivory 6-inch figurine noted for its pendulous breasts and for its unique depiction of spun thread in the form of a skirt hanging below the hips.
Gravettian Culture.
Lespugue, Haute-Garonne, France.

38. Coa Valley Engravings, Portugal (22,000 BCE)
Part of the Portuguese Coa Valley Archeological site, it contains thousands of engraved drawings of animals and human figures, and is the most ancient art yet found in Portugal.
Late Gravettian Culture.
Guarda, Northeastern Portugal.

39. Venus of Kostenky (22,000 BCE)
The oldest known sculpture in Russia. The Kostenky site was a major centre of prehistoric art where numerous venuses have been unearthed, of which this is the most famous.
Late Gravettian Culture.
Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

40. Venus of Gagarino (20,000 BCE)
Volcanic rock carving of female with huge breasts & belly.
Late Gravettian Culture.
Gagarino, Russia. Close to Kostenky settlement.

41. Avdeevo Venuses (c.20,000 BCE)
Ivory figurines in the Kostenky-Gagarino style.
Late Gravettian Culture.
Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

42. Mal'ta Venuses (20,000 BCE)
Mammoth ivory carvings of steatopygous females discovered near Lake Baikal in Siberia. Oldest recorded Siberian figurative sculpture.
Late Gravettian Culture, Russia.
Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

43. Zaraysk Venuses (c.20,000 BCE)
Two Avdeevo-style figurines and a bison figure, all carved from a woolly mammoth tusk.
Late Gravettian Culture, Russia.

44. La Pileta Cave (18,130 BCE)
Noted for its nine phases of Paleolithic cave painting, notably hand stencils.
Solutrean Culture.
Benaojan, near Ronda, Malaga, Spain.

45. Koonalda Cave Art (18,000 BCE)
Lying some 200-feet below the Nullabor Plain in South Australia, Koonalda Cave contains the oldest and best examples of Aboriginal finger fluting.

46. Xianrendong Cave Pottery (c.18,000 BCE)
Produced by hunter-gathers during the Late Glacial Maximum, these are the world's oldest pots, predating all other ancient pottery by 3,000 years.
Mid-Upper Paleolithic Period. [See: Chinese Art Timeline.]
Jiangxi Province, China.

47. Le Placard Cave (17,500 BCE)
Best known for its "Placard type" signs - also called aviform signs.
[See also: Prehistoric Abstract Signs.]
Solutrean Culture.
Rochebertier, Charente, France.

48. Roc-de-Sers Cave Engravings & Reliefs (17,200 BCE)
The benchmark for Solutrean prehistoric sculpture, best known for its fourteen sculptured, engraved and painted limestone blocks.
Solutrean Culture.
Gachedou, Charente, France.

49. Lascaux Cave Paintings (17,000-13,000 BCE)
Noted for "Hall of the Bulls", "Shaft of the Dead Man", the "Great Black Bull" plus a range of abstract symbols. The apogee of Franco-Cantabrian cave art of the Late Solutrean and early Magdalenian.
Montignac, Dordogne, France.

50. Yuchanyan Cave Pottery (16,000 BCE)
The world's second oldest ceramic pots. See also: Pottery Timeline.
Chinese Late Paleolithic.
South of Yangzi River Basin, Hunan Province, China.

51. Cave of La Pasiega (16,000 BCE)
Polychrome images and engravings of horses, cervids and abstract symbols.
Late Solutrean Culture - see: Solutrean Art (20,000-15,000 BCE).
Puente Viesgo, Spain.

52. Bradshaw Paintings (c.15,500 BCE)
Also known as Gwion rock art, Bradshaws (varieties include Tassel, Sash and Elegant Action Figures) occur within the Kimberley area, and are believed to be as old as the Lascaux paintings.
Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic Periods.
Kimberley, Western Australia. [See also: Oceanic Art.]

53. Vela Spila Pottery (15,500 BCE)
An independent Balkan tradition of ceramic art established and developed between 15,500 and 13,000 BCE, before it vanished from the archeological record. The next European pottery was not seen for 7,000 years.
Magdalenian Culture
Vela Luka, Korcula Island, Croatia.

54. Jomon Pottery (from c.14,540 BCE)
Japan's oldest ceramic clay pottery.
Incipient Jomon Culture.
Odaiyamamoto I site, Aomori Prefecture, Japan.
[See also: Japanese Art.]

55. Amur River Basin Pottery (14,300 BCE)
Heavily influenced by Chinese ceramics, the Amur region had a warm monsoon climate and a wetland ecology, which supported both a Paleolithic and a Neolithic ceramic industry.
Siberian Late Paleolithic Culture.
Amurskaya Oblast, Russian Far East.

56. Font de Gaume Cave Paintings (14,000 BCE)
250 Multi-coloured paintings of bison, horses and mammoths, abstract symbols. Major site of prehistoric art, second only to Lascaux.
See: Magdalenian Art (15,000-10,000 BCE)
Les Eyzies, Dordogne, France.

57. Venus of Eliseevichi (c.14,000 BCE)
Six-inch ivory carving of a female nude, similar in style to the French statuette known as the "Venus Impudique" (c.14,000 BCE) from the rock shelter of Laugerie Basse, Dordogne.
Magdalenian Culture.
Briansk Region, Russia.

58. Tito Bustillo Cave (14,000 BCE)
Noted for its red, black and violet animal paintings, as well as the "Chamber of Vulvas", the "Anthropomorph Gallery" and the "Gallery of Horses".
Magdalenian Culture.
Ribadesella, Asturias, Spain.

59. Rouffignac Cave ("Cave of hundred mammoths") (14,000-12,000 BCE)
Over 250 pictures, engraved or drawn in black, plus abstract symbols, including tectiforms and serpentiforms.
Late Magdalenian Culture.
Rouffignac-Saint-Cernin-de-Reilhac, Dordogne, France.

60. Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Sculpture (13,500 BCE)
Tuc d'Audoubert Cave contains charcoal drawings, animal paintings and rock engravings, but it is best known for its relief sculptures of two bison, sculpted in soft clay. The relief carries marks left by artist's fingers and nails.
Magdalenian Culture.
Ariege, Central Pyrenees, France.

61. Venus of Engen "Frauenidol von Engen" (13,000 BCE)
Venus figurine carved from jet, a type of semi-precious lignite.
Magdalenian Culture.
Konstanz, Baden-Wurttemberg. Germany.

62. Trois Freres Cave (13,000 BCE)
Best known for its famous engraved painting known as the "Sorcerer", and the life-sized engraving of a lioness in its "Chapel of the Lioness" gallery.
Magdalenian Culture.
Hautes-Pyrenees, France.

63. Kapova Cave Paintings (Shulgan-Tash Cave) (c.12,500 BCE)
Contains paintings of mammoths, rhinos, horses and a bison.
Magdalenian Culture of North-Central Eurasia.
Shulgan-Tash Preserve, Burzyansky Region, Bashkortostan, Russia.

64. Niaux Cave (12,000 BCE)
Famous for its main chamber known as "Salon Noir", its unique series of prehistoric 'footprints' and an extremely rare charcoal drawing of a weasel.
Magdalenian Culture.
Hautes-Pyrenees, France.

65. Roc-aux-Sorciers (c.12,000 BCE)
Famous for its outstanding limestone frieze of relief sculpture.
Magdalenian Culture.
Cave Taillebourg and Abri Bourdois, Angles-sur-l'Anglin, Vienne, France.

66. Les Combarelles Cave (12,000 BCE)
Narrow cave containing 600–800 mostly engraved drawings of animals and a remarkable collection of 50 anthropomorphic figures, plus indecipherable tectiforms. The cave is a key indicator of late paleolithic culture.
Late Magdalenian Culture.
Les Eyzies de Tayac, Dordogne, France.

67. Addaura Cave Engravings (11,000 BCE)
Engraving on limestone.
Late Magdalenian Culture.
Addaura Cave, Monte Pellegrino, Italy.
[See also: Petroglyphs.]

68. The Swimming Reindeer (11,000 BCE)
Carved from the tip of a mammoth tusk, this late Ice Age sculpture of two swimming reindeer - found in the cave of Montastruc, Tarn et Garonne, France - is the oldest work of art in any UK museum.
Late Magdalenian Culture.
British Museum, London.

69. Venus of Monruz-Neuchatel (10,000 BCE)
Black jet pendant of a stylized female figure, measuring 1-inch in height.
Late Magdalenian Culture.
Discovered in Neuchatel, Switzerland.

70. Gobekli Tepe Archeological Site (9500 BCE)
Animal and human bas-reliefs: eg."Naked Woman of Gobekli Tepe" (9000 BCE)
End of the Stone Age, beginning of the Mesolithic.
Near Edessa in southeastern Turkey.

71. Pachmari Hills Rock Paintings (9,000–3,000 BCE)
Drawings and paintings with pigments on sandstone rock.
Mesolithic Culture.
Satpura, Central India.

72. Ain Sakhri Lovers (9,000 BCE)
Semi-abstract phallic statuette, listed in the BBC TV series "History of the World in 100 Objects".
Middle Eastern Mesolithic Culture.
Ain Sakhri caves near Bethlehem.

73. Nevali Cori Archeological Site (c.9,000 BCE)
Stone reliefs, statues, clay figurines and megalithic art.
Anatolian Mesolithic.
Sanliurfa Province, Turkey.

74. Wonderwerk Cave Engravings (8,200 BCE)
Geometric designs, ideograms and animal engravings.
African Mesolithic Culture.
Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

75. Tassili-n-Ajjer Rock Art (8,000 BCE)
The major African site of Mesolithic art, the Tassili-n-Ajjer plateau is famous for its animal & human engravings/paintings.
Archaic Tradition.
Tassili-n-Ajjer, Algeria, N Africa.
[See also: African Art.]

76. Cuevas de las Manos (Cave of the Hands) (c.7,500 BCE)
Prehistoric hand stencils and handprints, plus abstract symbols.
Argentinian Mesolithic Culture.
Rio de las Pinturas, Argentina.

77. The Shigir Idol (7,500 BCE)
World's oldest known wood carving.
Mesolithic Era.
Yekaterinburg Museum, Middle Urals, Russia.

78. Jiahu Carvings (7,000–5,700 BCE)
Turquoise carvings, bone flutes.
Chinese Neolithic Period.
Yellow River Basin of Henan Province, Central China.
[See also: Neolithic Art in China: 7500-2000 BCE.]

79. Catal Huyuk Chalcolithic Archeological Site (7,500-5,700 BCE)
A major centre of Neolithic art, Catal Huyuk is noted for ancient animal and human imagery, like "The Enthroned Goddess of Catal Huyuk" (c.6,000 BCE), terracotta clay sculpture of Mother Goddess figure about to give birth while seated on a throne.
Catal Huyuk, Anatolia, Turkey.

80. Chalcolithic Pottery from Persia (5,000-3,500 BCE)
Ceramic Ware painted with human, bird, plant or animal motifs.
Chalcolithic Culture.
Iran (Persia).
[See also: Art of Ancient Persia.]

81. Thinker of Cernavoda (5,000 BCE)
Iconic figurative terracotta sculpture
Neolithic Hamangia Culture.
National Museum, Bucharest, Romania.

82. Fish God of Lepenski Vir (5,000 BCE)
Sandstone carving of therianthropic figure.
Neolithic Period.
Danube Settlement of Lepenski Vir, Serbia.

83. Sydney Rock Engravings (5,000 BCE)
Figurative drawings of people and animals incised into sandstone.
Australian Neolithic.
NSW, Australia.

84. Dabous Giraffe Engravings (4,000 BCE)
Saharan rock engravings of elephants, gazelles, crocodiles and cattle.
Taureg Culture.
Agadez, Niger, Africa.
[See also: Tribal Art.]

85. Elands Bay Cave (4,000 BCE)
Clusters of several hundred handprints.
Neolithic Culture.
Western Cape, South Africa.

86. Valdivia Figurines (4,000–3,000 BCE)
First 3-D representational images (limestone and marble) in the Americas.
Neolithic Period.
Real Alto and Loma Alta sites, Ecuador.

87. Priest-King of Mesopotamia (3,300 BCE)
12-inch Limestone statue.
Uruk Culture of ancient Iraq.
Louvre, Paris.

88. Newgrange Megalithic Tomb (3,100 BCE)
Spiral carvings and other megalithic art.
Irish Early Bronze Age.
Boyne Valley, County Meath, Ireland.

89. Kneeling Bull with Vessel (3,000 BCE)
One of the oldest masterpieces of silver metalwork, crafted by Mesopotamian silversmiths.
Proto-Elamite Period.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

90. Niola Doa (Beautiful Ladies) (3,000 BCE)
Monumental engraved/painted female figures.
Late Neolithic Period.
Ennedi Plateau, Chad, Africa.

91. The Guennol Lioness (3000 BCE)
Iraqi silver sculpture of an anthropomorphic lioness-woman.
Proto-Elamite Period.
[See also: Mesopotamian art 4500-539 BCE.]

92. Egyptian Pyramids Architecture (2600-2100 BCE)
Monumental stone tombs.
Old Kingdom Culture. [For more, see: Ancient Egyptian Architecture.]
Giza, Dashur and Saqqara.
[See also: Early Egyptian Architecture 3100-2181.]

93. Stonehenge Stone Circle (2600-2400 BCE)
Megalithic architecture (massive Oligocene-Miocene sarsens) and engravings.
English mid-Bronze Age.
Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England.
[See also: Megaliths.]

94. Ram in the Thicket (2500 BCE)
Mesopotamian sculpture in gold-leaf, copper, lapis lazuli, red limestone.
Early Dynastic Culture.
British Museum, London.
[See also: Mesopotamian Sculpture 4500-539 BCE.]

95. Knowth Megalithic Tomb (2500-2000 BCE)
Megalithic art, notably geometric engravings
Irish mid-Bronze Age.
Boyne Valley, County Meath, Ireland.

96. Maikop Gold Bull (2500 BCE)
One of the oldest gold sculptures in the history of Russian art.
Maikop Culpture.
North Caucasus, Russia.

97. The Dancing Girl of Mohenjo-Daro (2500 BCE)
Bronze figurine statuette.
Harappan Culture.
Indus Valley Civilization, India.

98. Xia Dynasty Chinese Bronzeworks (from 1,750 BCE)
Bronze plaques/sculptures (piece-mold casting) with jade decoration.
Xia Dynasty culture.
Yellow River Basin of Henan Province.
[See also: Traditional Chinese Art: Characteristics.]

99. Temple of Amon-Ra at Karnak (from 1,550 BCE)
Colossal megalithic religious architecture.
Middle Kingdom to Ptolemaic Kingdom Culture.
Karnak, Upper Egypt.
[See also: Egyptian Middle Kingdom Architecture.]

100. Sanxingdui Bronzes (1200-1000 BCE)
Bronze sculptures of human faces & masks.
Sanxingdui Culture [See also: Shang Dynasty Art.]
Guanghanin, Sichuan, China.

 

• For the Stone Age origins of painting, see: Homepage.


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