Oldest Stone Age Art: Top 100 Artworks
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 WORKS OF STONE AGE ART

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. La Ferrassie Cave Petroglyphs (60,000 BCE)
6. El Castillo Cave Paintings (Red Disk) (39,000 BCE)
7. Lion Man of the Hohlenstein Stadel (38,000 BCE)
8. Venus of Hohle Fels (38,000-33,000 BCE)
9. Altamira Cave Painting (Club-shaped Image) (34,000 BCE)
10. Ivory Carvings of the Swabian Jura (from 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. Chauvet Cave Paintings (30,000 BCE)
Animal paintings, abstract symbols, red ochre handprints, hand stencils, palm prints. Oldest figurative cave painting in the world.
Aurignacian culture.
Ardeche Valley, Rhone-Alpes, France.

12. Bone Venus of Kostenky (30,000 BCE)
The oldest known sculpture in Russia, second only to the Venus of Hohle Fels (35,000-40,000 BCE) as the earliest example of mobiliary art of the Upper Paleolithic, during which Neanderthal Man was displaced by modern man.
Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

13. Aboriginal Rock Art at Murujuga (Burrup) Peninsula (30,000 BCE)
Prehistoric rock engravings, drawings of human figures and extinct animals. Some petroglyphs have been dated to at least 30,000 BCE, if not earlier.
Pre-Estuarine Culture.
Western Australia.
See: Aboriginal Rock Art Australia.


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.

14. Venus of Monpazier (30,000 BCE)
Limonite stone statuette, one of the most ancient Venus figurines, and the oldest known French sculpture.
Aurignacian art.
Dordogne, France.

15. Aboriginal Rock Art at Ubirr (30,000 BCE)
Red Ochre Pigments on Rock
Pre-Estuarine Culture.
Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia.

16. Chabot Cave (Grotte des Deux-Ouvertures) (28,000-26,000)
Noted for its prehistoric engravings and pictographs, featuring 52 figures including woolly mammoths and aurochs.
Aurignacian Culture.
Ardeche Valley, Rhone-Alpes, France.

17. Aboriginal Cave Art at Gabarnmung Rock Shelter (26,000 BCE)
Charcoal drawing.
Nawarla Gabarnmung, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia.

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

19. Apollo 11 Cave Paintings (25,500-23,500 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.

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

21. 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.

22. Cussac Cave (25,000 BCE)
Engraved drawings of bison, horses, mammoths and the like. Similar in style to Gravettian imagery at Pech Merle.
Gravettian Culture.
Le Buisson-de-Cadouin, Dordogne, France.

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

24. 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.

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

26. 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.

27. Venus of Moravany (24,000-22,000 BCE)
Mammoth ivory figurine carving of female figure.
Gravettian Culture.
Moravany nad Vahom, Piestany, Slovakia.

28. Limestone Venus of Kostenky (23,000-21,000 BCE)
Limestone carving, with prominent navel and "bracelets" on the wrists.
Gravettian Culture.
Kostenki, Russia. (see above for Bone Venus of Kostenky)

29. Venus of Laussel (23,000-20,000 BCE)
18-inch high limestone bas-relief sculpture of reclining female figure.
Gravettian Culture.
Musee d'Aquitaine, Bordeaux, France.

30. 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.

 

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

32. 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.

33. Vila Nova de Foz Coa (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.

34. Venus of Gagarino (22,000 BCE)
Volcanic rock carving of female with huge breasts & belly. Ukraine's Oldest Sculpture
Late Gravettian Culture.
Gagarino, Ukraine. Close to Kostenky settlement.

35. Venus of Mal'ta (21,000 BCE)
Mammoth ivory carving, one of several steatopygous females discovered near Lake Baikal in Siberia. Oldest recorded Siberian Figurative sculpture.
Late Gravettian Culture.
Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

36. La Pileta Cave (18,130 BCE)
Noted for its nine phases of Upper Paleolithic cave painting.
Solutrean Culture.
Benaoján, near Ronda, Malaga, Spain.

37. Karawari Caves, Papua New Guinea (18,000 BCE)
Has the greatest examples of hand stencils and other types of parietal art in Melanesia.
[See also: Oceanic Art.]

38. Maltravieso Cave (18,000 BCE)
Animal paintings, engravings and cluster of 71 stencilled handprints.
Solutrean Culture.
Caceres, Extremadura, Spain.

38 (a) Xianrendong Cave Pottery (c.18,000 BCE),
Produced by hunter-gathers during the Late Glacial Maximum, this is the world's oldest pottery, predating Japanese and other prehistoric pottery by 3,000 years.
Mid-Upper Paleolithic Period. [See: Chinese Art Timeline.]
Jiangxi Province, China.

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

40. Le Roc-de-Sers Cave (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.

41. 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.
Late Solutrean, early Magdalenian
Montignac, Dordogne, France.

42. La Tete du Lion Cave (17,000 BCE)
Famous for a panel which is believed to disclose an early understanding of astronomy. Similar markings appear at Lascaux.
Late Solutrean Culture.
Bidon, Ardeche, Rhone-Alpes, France.

43. La Garma Cave (17,000 BCE)
32 hand stencils, red dots and simple red ochre animal figures.
Late Solutrean Culture.
Omono, Cantabria, Spain.

44. Sash Painting: Aboriginal Rock Art (17,000 BCE)
Pigments applied by feather quill on rock surface. An example of Bradshaw aboriginal rock painting.
Kimberley, Western Australia.

45. Bayol Cave (Collias II) (17,000 BCE)
Noted for its handprint left by a very young Stone Age child.
Late Solutrean Culture.
Near Pont du Gard aqueduct, France.

46. 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.

47. Devil's Oven Cave (Fourneau-du-Diable) (16,000 BCE)
Cave paintings, engravings, abstract signs and symbols.
Late Solutrean Culture.
Bourdeilles, Dordogne, France.

48. Lortet Shelter Rock Art (15,000 BCE)
Reindeer antler tool engraved with images of reindeer and fish.
Magdalenian Culture.
Hautes-Pyrenees, France.

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

50. 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.
Magdalenian Culture - see: Magdalenian Art (15,000-10,000 BCE)
Les Eyzies, Dordogne, France.

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

52. Tuc d'Audoubert Cave Art (13,500 BCE)
Charcoal drawings, coloured paintings and engravings. Best known for 18-inch high unfired clay relief sculptures of two bison. Carries marks left by artist's fingers and nails.
Magdalenian Culture.
Tuc d'Audoubert Cave, Ariege, France.

53. La Marche Cave Figure Drawings (13,000 BCE)
155 painted engravings of human heads and faces, carved on limestone slabs.
Allegedly Magdalenian era.
Lussac-les-Chateaux, Vienne, France.

54. 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.

55. Trois-Freres Cave (13,000-12,000 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.

56. Niaux Cave (13,000-11,000 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.

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

58 Les Combarelles Cave (11,000 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.

59. Rouffignac Cave ("Cave of the hundred mammoths") (11,000 BCE)
Over 250 pictures, engraved or drawin in black, plus abstract symbols, including tectiforms and serpentiforms.
Late Magdalenian Culture.
Rouffignac-Saint-Cernin-de-Reilhac, Dordogne, France.

60. 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.

61. 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.

62. Fern Cave (10,000 BCE)
Aboriginal hand stencils.
Oceanic Mesolithic Culture.
North Queensland, Australia.

63. 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.

64. Cuevas de las Manos (Cave of the Hands) (9,500 BCE)
Prehistoric hand stencils and handprints, plus abstract symbols.
Argentinian Mesolithic Culture.
Rio de las Pinturas, Argentina.

65. Bhimbetka Rock Paintings (9,000-7,000 BCE)
Paintings and stencilled hands.
Mesolithic Culture.
Madhya Pradesh, India.

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

67. 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.

68. Wonderwerk Cave Engravings (8,200 BCE)
Geometric designs, ideomorphs and animal engravings.
African Neolithic Culture.
Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

69. Tassili-n-Ajjer Rock Art (8,000 BCE)
Prehistoric animal & human engravings and paintings.
Archaic Tradition. Mesolithic.
Tassili-n-Ajjer, Algeria, N Africa.
[See also: African Art.]

70. Kalimantan Caves (8,000 BCE) Indonesia
Has 1500 images of stencilled hands in 30 Stone Age caves.
Oceanic Mesolithic Culture.
Sangkulirang district of Eastern Kalimantan, Indonesia.

71. Gua Ham Masri II Cave (8,000 BCE)
Noted for 140 hand stencils (equal male/female).
Oceanic Mesolithic Culture.
East Borneo, Indonesia.

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

73. 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.]

74. Coldstream Burial Stone (6,000 BCE)
Coloured engravings on quartzite Stone
African Neolithic.
Lottering River, Western Cape Province, South Africa.

75. Catal Huyuk Chalcolithic Archeological Site (6,000-3,700 BCE)
Noted for ancient animal and human imagery, like "The Enthroned Goddess of Catal Huyuk", terracotta clay sculpture of Mother Goddess figure about to give birth while seated on a throne.
Neolithic Culture.
Catal Huyuk, Anatolia, Turkey

76. Vidovdanka (5500-4700 BCE)
Terracotta figurine from Vinca-Belo Brdo, near Belgrade.
Neolithic Culture.
National Museum of Serbia.

77. 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.]

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

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

80. Samarra and Halaf Plates (5,000 BCE)
Ceramic ware with figurative or geometric decoration
Samarra/Halaf Style, Mesolithic Period.
Iraq and Syria.

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

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

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

84. 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.

85. Pig Dragon Pendant (3,800 BCE)
Ancient Chinese jade carving.
Hongshan Culture. Chinese Neolithic.
Tomb 4, Niuheliang, Jianping, Liaoning Province, NE China.

86. Egyptian Mourning Figurine (3,500 BCE)
Cchre-painted terracotta humanoid sculpture excavated from Burial 2 at el-Mamariya, Egypt.
Naquada II Culture. Neolithic.Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York.

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.

 

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