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    Timelines – Prehistoric art

    Approximate DateArtifactsDescription
    700,000 BCThe Tan-Tan FigurineFound in Morocco, this sculpted piece of quartzite may represent the oldest known example of figurative art. Its human-like form is suggested by natural weathering, with artificial enhancements potentially made by primitive hominins.
    40,000 BCLion ManDiscovered in a German cave, this is the oldest known zoomorphic sculpture, and the oldest known uncontested instance of figurative art. It’s carved from mammoth ivory, standing about 30cm tall.
    37,000 BCChauvet Cave PaintingsLocated in France, these paintings represent some of the earliest known cave art. They feature a variety of animals, human handprints, and abstract symbols.
    35,000 BCVenus of Hohle FelsThis female figurine is the oldest known depiction of the human form. Found in Germany, it’s carved from a mammoth’s tusk. The pronounced depiction of women’s features may suggest fertility symbols.
    33,000 BCEl Castillo Cave PaintingsLocated in Spain, these paintings include handprints and numerous discs. One red disc has been dated as 40,000 years old, making it potentially the oldest artwork in Europe.
    30,000 BCVenus of WillendorfFound in Austria, this high-relief statuette likely symbolized fertility. Its emphasis on female sex characteristics and absence of feet suggest a focus on reproduction.
    25,000 BCLascaux Cave PaintingsLocated in France, often referred to as the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art,” these elaborate paintings include recognizable animals and mysterious, abstract shapes.
    23,000 BCVenus of Dolní VěstoniceA ceramic figurine found in the Czech Republic. This is thought to be the oldest known ceramic artwork in the world.
    15,000 BCAltamira Cave PaintingsBased in Spain, these artworks were among the first to be recognized as prehistoric due to their high quality. The ceiling depicts vividly colored animals, primarily bison.
    10,000 BCGöbekli Tepe TotemsLocated in Turkey, these carved stone pillars feature various animals. The location serves as a religious sanctuary predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years.