Exciting Discovery In the Field of Cave and Rock Art From 2011 to 2020

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Prehistoric people had no written languages for day to day use. Their laws, cultural beliefs, and myths were preserved through stories, dances, songs, and paintings.

Cave paintings and rock art perhaps the favorite way for our ancestors to maintain their knowledge for the coming generations. Time to time there was a significant improvement in the information which early humans shared through the cave paintings.

Some times Prehistoric cave art is not simply depictions of wild animals. Instead, the animal symbols represent star constellations in the night sky.

There are thousands of clues hidden in the figures and paintings created in caves or rocks by our ancestors which if we can decode then we will be able to learn more about early humans.

As the exploration in the field of archaeology has increased in the last few decades. This resulted in the discovery of many new caves and archaeological sites [Top 10 Oldest Archeological Sites]. Here caves and rock art sites are listed that have been discovered from 2011 to 2020. This is not an exhaustive list, some may be still left to add.

Ancient Cave Art Sinai Desert, Egypt

Sinai Caves Egypt

An archaeological cave was discovered that includes unique and diverse sets of sculpted views in the rocks in the dark valley in the North Sinai archaeological area. This information was shared by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities وزارة السياحة والآثار. This cave featured paintings that archaeologists estimate date as far back as 10,000 B.C.

The cave is located at the beginning of a stream of the valley of the darkness in a mountainous area of limestone and 60 km east of the Suez Canal. The cave is the first of its kind to be detected in the area and is larger in space than the recently documented Zaranig cave.

Most of the scenery discovered is carved along the walls of the inner cave and depicts a number of animals, including unique views of beauty, deer, mountain goats, and many donkeys.

This cave is filled with animal waste and fire ash that symbolizes the constant use of it during subsequent ages.

It May be used as a shelter for locals to resort to it and their herds to protect against rain, storms, and cold in winter.

Animal Carvings and Mysterious Symbols, Spain

Experts have discovered a cave in northern Spain with hundreds of rock carvings that are a treasure of mystical and abstract symbols. It contains vivid depictions of horses, deer, and bulls that are engraved directly into the soft rock surface.

This cave is a part of other caves network located in northern Spain 60 miles from Barcelona called the Cave of Font Major, Cantabria. Cantabria is also home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Altamira which features several renowned prehistoric artworks.

It is believed that the art indicated that the location was once a stone-age religious sanctuary or shrine. The ancient art is the oldest that has been found in Catalonia, and there is nothing else like them in the region.

The majority of the images date to around 13,000 BC and comes from the “Upper Paleolithic” according to El Periodico 

Many figures have been damaged in the past by visitors who were unaware of their existence. This cave was part of an adventure trail. Many visitors had touched and drew graffiti on the walls with the engravings and had unintentionally damaged the Stone Age art.

The artifacts present in the cave are extremely delicate and can cause damage by the human touch. Newsweek states that “the archaeologists say that the engravings can be easily damaged or destroyed with even minimal contact.” Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the shrine will ever be open to the public.

Ancient Cave Paintings, Western Thailand

The cave’s at Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park where the paintings were found
[Credit: Fine Arts Office, Ratchaburi/Facebook]

A discovery of ancient murals estimated to be up to 3,000 years old in a cave in the west of Thailand. The newly discovered cave paintings, some seven meters long. The cave is located 125 meters above sea level. Its mouth was a wide 9.5 meters in diameter. 

This cave is located at the Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan province and discovered by archaeologists from the Fine Arts Office in the neighboring province Ratchaburi. 

In the paintings, there are a number of humanlike figures, some with accessories on their bodies, while others appear to hunt animals with bow and arrow. There is one obvious animal figure that looks very much like a serow, a goat-like mammal found regionally according to archeologist Kannika Premjai.

Some of the art survived and still clearly visible, while others have been ruined by limestone erosion.

Cave Painting, Indonesia

Indonesian island of Sulawesi

Left – Six humankind of figures with animal features surround an anoa, a small type of buffalo.
Right – A humankind of figure with animal features. The red arrow indicates the figure’s “tail.” (Aubert et al., Nature, 2019)

It was almost the end of 2019 when scientists discovered figurative painting, in a cave in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and the stunning view of a hunting party painted some 44,000 years ago.

This site was discovered by Adam Brumm, an archaeologist at Australia’s Griffith University. He and his colleagues used a technique called uranium-series analysis to determine the paintings’ age.

Locals were well aware of these paintings but never assumed that they can be that much old.

The painting tells a complicated story. It depicts jungle buffaloes and wild pigs pursued by tiny hunters with spears and ropes.

The first sight of figurative appear to be human, but they seem to have some features of animals.

One appears to have a birdlike head, and another has a tail. The oldest figurative painting in those analyses was a striking image of a wild cow.

This discovery contradicts the previous belief and according to that humans started painting in caves in Europe.

For example, art from the Chauvet Cave in France is dated as old as 37,000 years. But this discovery surprises everyone as they are thousands of years older than Chauvet Cave in France.


Cave Paintings, Borneo

The 40,000-year-old animal painting can be seen on the far right of this image of the cave wall
Image Credit: Original journal

A very large area with many paintings and many caves discovered in the remote and rugged mountains of East Kalimantan, an Indonesian province on Borneo.

The artwork, which is at least 40,000 years old, is thought to be the oldest example of figurative painting where real objects are depicted rather than abstract shapes.

The researchers aren’t certain what animal it represents, but their hunch is that it’s a banteng, a type of wild cow that lives in the area today.

The oldest cave art image we dated is a large painting of an unidentified animal, probably a species of wild cattle still found in the jungles of Borneo.

This has a minimum age of around 40,000 years and is now the earliest known figurative artwork.

The caves contain thousands of other prehistoric paintings, drawings, and other imagery, including hand stencils, animals, abstract signs and symbols.

COLIBOAIA Cave, Romanian

Coliboaia Cave in Romania
Left – 1 — The horse or felid; 2 — The rhinoceros
Right – 1 — The bison; 2 — unidentified figure
Image is taken from Original Article

An “Art Gallery” was discovered in the Coliboaia Cave in Romania. The is the oldest cave drawings in Central and Eastern Europe were found in Romania, in Coliboaia cave, in Bihor county.

The drawings are in black pigment, probably made with charcoal. The carbon that was used to draw them is 36,000 years old. The amazing 13 drawings and an engraving were found in a gallery of the cave.

They represent several animals such as rhinos, buffalos, horses, and cats. Experts are guessing that the place (at the entrance of the cave) was used for hunting-related rituals.

These cave paintings include a buffalo head, with horns and mane, a partially drawn horse, and one or two bear heads. Among the drawings that were better preserved, there is a rhino head.

Nawarla Gabarnmang Rock Art, Australia

Cave Paintings on the ceiling and pillars of Nawarla Gabarnmang rock shelter, Arnhem Land,Northern Territory, Australia

Rock art was discovered by the University of Southern Queensland archaeologist Bryce Barker in 2012 during the excavation of Nawarla Gabarnmang, a rock shelter in Jawoyn Country, south-western Arnhem Land, in Australia’s Northern Territory.

It is one of the oldest in the world an Aboriginal work created 28,000 years ago in an Outback cave. Archaeologists found evidence that the cave where the rock art was discovered had been occupied for 45,000 years.

X-Ray Style Prehistoric Lost Rock Art – Australia

This rock art 3×3 centimeters, that fell from the roof during prehistory was made with charcoal, so radiocarbon dating could be used to determine its age. Most rock art is made with mineral paint, so its age cannot be accurately measured.

A few used chunks of hematite (an iron ore) “crayons” recovered from the site that raises the possibility that Gabarnmang shelter was decorated by its early human inhabitants.


 Rock art, Somaliland

Somalia rock art
Image Credit: http://www.karstworlds.com/

Dhambalin, a sandstone rock shelter close to the Red Sea in Somaliland, was discovered in 2011. The unique site holds paintings created up to 5,000 years ago including the first sheep paintings in Somali archaeology.

A local team headed by Dr. Sada Mire, of the Institute of Archaeology at University College London (UCL), made the finds, which include a man on horseback, painted around 4,000 years ago – one of the earliest known depictions of a mounted hunter.

The images preserved very well and the quality of images is excellent. The fauna depicted includes antelopes, dogs, giraffes, snakes, and a turtle, some of which are associated with human figures wearing what appear to be headgears and holding bow and arrows in hunting scenes.

The pictures also depict animals, such as giraffes, no longer found in Somaliland. For centuries, they were known only to nomads, who believed the site was haunted by evil spirits.


SiteDiscovery YearDatedFeatures
Ancient Cave Art Sinai Desert, Egypt202010000Deer, mountain goats, and many donkeys
Animal Carvings and Mysterious Symbols, Spain202015000Horses, deer, and bulls
Ancient Cave Paintings, Western Thailand20203000Humanlike figures, some with accessories on their bodies, while others appear to hunt animals with bow and arrow.
Cave Painting, Indonesian201944000Hunting party painted
Cave Paintings, Borneo201840000Banteng, a type of wild cow that lives in the area today
COLIBOAIA Cave, Romanian201136000rhinos, buffalos, horses, and cats
Nawarla Gabarnmang Rock Art, Australia201228000Human Figures
Rock art, Somaliland20075000Antelopes, dogs, giraffes, snakes, and a turtle

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