What is meant by cave art - ? Web viewWhat is meant by cave art? This lesson is about Cave Art and its meaning. It also explores about what we can learn about art and how Prehistoric people lived.

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What is meant by cave art?

This lesson is about Cave Art and its meaning. It also explores about what we can learn about art and how Prehistoric people lived.

Learning objectives

After this lesson students will be able to:

Show understanding of how paintings, drawings and images transmit ideas and ways of life.

Explain how images can be used as symbols representing different ideas and beliefs.

Show understanding of how images tell stories and how interpreting them helps to gain knowledge of the past.


3 class periods.


Social Studies

World History

Art and culture

History of Art

Skills involved

Critical analysis


Art analysis

Logical reasoning.

Introductory questions

How do people express ideas through art?

What can you learn about the past by interpreting a picture?

Why are images used to show stories and ideas?

How has art been used to show what ideas were important for the people who created them?

Teachers notes

The lesson requires internet connection and access to several web pages and videos listed below:

The Cave of Lascaux http://www.lascaux.culture.fr/site_map.php?lng=en

The Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc http;//www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/chauvet/en

Altamira Cave http://museodealtamira.mcu.es

The Cosquer Cave http://www.culture.gouv.fr/fr/archeosm/en

Video on Altamira Cave: https://www.youtube.com/watch

Teaching procedure

First day activities

Warming up activity

Start the lesson projecting on the interactive whiteboard different signs and ask the students what are their meanings and if somebody who could not speak English could understand them. Besides tell them to generalize how they could transmit information without using words.

Project cave art images and tell them to what do they suggest and when they were created. Ask them:

1.What do they know about the life of these people?

2.When and where did they live?

3.What animals lived when the cave people lived?

4.What did cave people use animals for?

5.What tools did they have?

6.Why do we call them cave people?

Main core activities

View the Altamira cave video and tell them to answer the questions with the information on it.Students discuss about it.

Then students draw a time line on Paleolithic Age using this dates:

250-100,000 BCEThe period of the Lower Paleolithic

100k-35,000 BCE This is the Middle Paleolithic

35k-25,000 BCE In Australia, Aboriginal rock paintings were made as far back as this time

35k-10,000 BCEThe Upper Paleolithic Period. There was considerable variation in the types of tools that were used and according to prehistorian J.D. Clark, a new self-awareness or concern for matters that had no relation to fulfilling biological needs. This is shown by the burial of the dead together with food and weapons.

33,000-9,000 BCE Europe's Upper Paleolithic age,

c. 30,400 BCE Radiocarbon date for the Cave paintings at Chauvet, France. The first period of cave art is called Aurignacian.

28,000 BCE Homo sapiens (modern). Skull of adult male found by French workmen (L. Lartet) at Cro-Magnon, France in 1868.

28,000 BCE The Cussac cave in France was found in 2000 to contain drawings from this time. Bones of 5 people from the Neolithic era were also found.

15,000 BCE The cave art of Paleolithic man of Lascaux, France dates to this time. It contains some 600 paintings, 1,500 engravings, and innumerable mysterious dots and geometric figures.

10,000 BCE The Paleolithic period comes to a close.

10,000-3500 BCE The Neolithic or New Stone Age.

9,600 BCE Radiocarbon date for the cave paintings at Le Portal, France. The last period of cave art is called Magdalenian.

Second day activities

Warm-up activity

Ask students to summarize 10 aspects of cave art.

Main core activities

Students in pairs explore the Lascaux cave using the link provided http://www.lascaux.culture.fr/site_map.php?lng=en

They complete the following chart:

When and who discovered the cave?

What are the main animals represented in the cave paintings?

What colours are used?

What other symbols are used?

Are human beings painted? If so how are they represented?

Why arent caves open to the public?

When were the paintings created?



What were the cave artists trying to say?

Why do you think that there were so many animals and not as many people in the paintings?

What can the paintings tell us about other aspects of the life of cave dwellers or Paleolithic people?

How did they make these pictures if there were no stores to buy paint and brushes or tools for carving?

What colors are prominent in the paintings, and what natural sources might provide these pigments if they didn't have crayons or markers?

Third day activities

Warm-up activity

Review homework and add information to the weak answers.

Main core activities:

Using the links below, students compare the three caves.

The Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc http;//www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/chauvet/en

Altamira Cave http://museodealtamira.mcu.es

The Cosquer Cave http://www.culture.gouv.fr/fr/archeosm/en



Main findings

Unique aspects

Ritual aspects




Final discussion on cave art

Review the findings and also focus the discussion using these questions:

1. Where do you think cave paintings are located?

2. What kinds of animals can you see?

3. What colors do you see?

4. Who do you think made these pictures?

5. Why?

6. What do these pictures tell us about who created them?

After having discussed the questions, students will write an essay about cave art in France and Spain.

Extension activity

Students individually or in small groups create their own cave paintings. With the works you can organize an exhibition for families.


In class assessment:

Students will write an essay summarizing cave art and its meaning, giving examples and details about

Extending The Lesson

Invite students to create pictures, paintings, collages, etc. that show something about life in the Paleolithic period using the kinds of images and techniques used by the cave artists. When everyone is finished making their pictures, put the images together in a book or exhibit for other students, now and in the future, to look at. The teacher can guide students in arranging the book or exhibit and labeling objects so that the project reflects what the class has learned.

As a reading extension, you might also want to obtain a copy of the following picture book, about a little girl who becomes a cave artist: First Painter by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Rocco Baviera (DK Publishing, 2000).

For a related type of prehistoric art originating from different time periods and parts of the world, introduce your class to Rock Art. Depending on your location within the U.S., you can relate the cave paintings to the more recent rock painting in your school's geographic region. The EDSITEment-reviewed resource ArchNet includes a section on Rock Art that contains links to several on the topic of prehistoric art around the world, including: Contemporary Approaches to World Rock Art, EuRA (European Rock Art), and the Ancient World Web. For general introductions to the archaeology of rock and cave painting, see "What is Rock Art?" from Arizona State University, Deer Valley Rock Art Center.

The Basics

Time Required

3 class periods

Subject Areas

Art and Culture > Subject Matter > Anthropology

History and Social Studies

Art and Culture > Subject Matter > Archaeology

History and Social Studies > Place > Europe

History and Social Studies > World > The Ancient World (3500 BCE-500 CE)

Art and Culture > Medium > Visual Arts

History and Social Studies > World

History and Social Studies > Place

Art and Culture


Critical analysis


Logical reasoning

Visual art analysis


Student Resources

Launchpad for Activity 3: How Did the Flintstones Really Live?


Auroch (prehistoric cattle) painting, Lascaux cave, France.

Credit: Courtesy of The French Ministry of Culture

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