Rock Art

Archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians know that prehistoric people did not spend all their time finding and collecting food. For many nomadic hunter-gatherers and later agricultural societies, food sources were abundant. Their lives allowed free-time to play games, to tell stories and socialize with their family groups, and to create. Prehistoric people used rock for tools, but also as a medium for artistic communication and expression. Many examples of prehistoric rock art survive today. Ancient rock art is found around the world and can be attributed to many different cultures. Cave pictures such as those found at Lascaux, France (c. 15,000 – 10,000 BC) and Altamira, Spain display animals and hunt scenes. This rock art is not ancient grafitti. These people did not have an alphabet, paper, pen or pencils, cameras, or any other way to record their beliefs and experiences. The rock art tells us stories, reveals traces of their religious beliefs and ceremonies, and relates some of the history of the people who created the images.

For additional information about rock art, pictographs, and petroglyphs, visit some or all of these websites:

“The Journey” of Roy Purcell from Roadtrip America
Petroglyphs and Rock Paintings
Rock Art Pages by by J.Q. Jacobs
Rock Art & Petroglyphs
Southwestern United States Rock Art Gallery
What is Rock Art?
World Rock Art

Try a webquest activity.

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