Where Have Ancient Rock and Cave Paintings Been Found?

Prehistoric rock and cave paintings have been found in caves around the world, including locations in Africa, Australia, Europe, India, North and South America and Southeast Asia. Cave paintings in the Cave of El Castillo in Spain are considered the oldest known ancient cave paintings, dating back some 40,800 years.

A runner-up to the Cave of El Castillo, in terms of age, are the cave paintings found on Australia's Arnhem Land plateau that depict animal species that went extinct more than 40,000 years ago. In France, the well-known Chauvet Cave paintings date back to the Upper Paleolithic period, around 30,000 BCE. Chauvet was celebrated because, along with the ancient cave paintings, scientists also discovered additional human evidence and artifacts.

Scholars disagree on the purpose of cave art. Some say it was a form of communication, while others suggest it is religious or ceremonial in nature.