10 Interesting Rock Art from the Ancient World

by Shivam Khandelwal2 years ago

6 Magura Cave, Bulgaria

The ancient wall paintings on the walls of Magura Cave in Bulgaria are excellent expressions of the meaningful art of the European post-Palaeolithic period. The paintings found in Magura caves also resemble the ones that are discovered in Deer Cave in Italy.

Magura Cave
Beautiful cave paintings dating from the late Neolithic, Epipaleolithic, and early Bronze Age. Image credit: Shutterstock

The cave is located near the town of Belogradchik in Vidin Province and is 2.5 kilometers long. The cave is said to be 15 million years old, but the paintings are estimated to be around 10,000 to 8,000 years old.  

A variety of social practices and events are interpreted from the paintings found in the cave. The most common of them are religious ceremonies, hunting scenes, figures of deities, etc. 

The paintings can be broadly categorized into four major groups: anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, geometric, and symbolic. Scratches and marks on the walls have been found in 1993, and since then, the paintings are protected with utmost care. Now, one can only see them in the presence of a tourist guide. (source)


7 Kimberley Wandjina Art, Australia

The Wandjina style of rock painting can be exclusively found in the Kimberley region in Australia, and it is insanely creative. These paintings have mythological figures closely related to the creation of the world and are created by Australian Aboriginals.

Kimberly Wandjina Art
Rock art in Wandjina style. Image credit: Claire Taylor via Wikimedia

Also commonly referred to as the “Wandjina” style, these Aboriginal artworks of paintings are around 4,000 years old. The term “Wandjina” is closely related to spirits of clouds and rain in Aboriginal Mythology. 

The figures in the paintings look like some kind of ghosts and are generally without a mouth. The head is always oversized in the figures and is surrounded by a halo and lines growing outwards. The color combination is white and red symbolizing water and blood. 

The paintings are still believed to possess powers and are treated with respect. It is also surprising that each site and painting has an individual name. 

The Mowanjum community ensures the future presence of Wandjina by repainting them in December or January every year. (1, 2)


8 Chiribiquete National Park, Columbia

These red-colored paintings on white rocks have been found in an extremely unexplored area of Chiribiquete National Park, Columbia. The images are 20,000 years old and are possibly made by the Karijona Tribe that still lives in the region.

Chiribiquete National Park
Rock art. Image credit: Jorge Mario Àlvarez Arango via whc.unesco

The site was discovered by a British wildlife filmmaker and photographer, Francisco Bonell. The place at which the prehistoric paintings were found is nearly inaccessible because it is in the heart of the jungles of Columbia. Even Francisco needed a helicopter for his expedition. 

The hundreds of figures drawn on the stones are of jaguars, crocodiles, and deer. There are a few human figures, and one of them particularly interested the researcher. It showed a human sitting in a position with his arms folded over his shoulders. It is a ritual position still found in Amazonian cultures. 

Other paintings that were discovered later were those of snakes, anteaters, and capybaras, which collectively mean that the people who lived and drew the pictures were afraid of and respected the wildlife very much. (source)


9 Utah, America

The wide variety of petroglyphs and rock art in Utah is exceptional. Rock carvings at some sites range from 800 to 10,000 years old. There are not just figures but also writings that have been found across the ancient site.

Ancient symbols texture, Petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock, Utah, USA. Image credit: Shutterstock

Most of the art found in Utah is made by the Fremont Indians, tribes who resided in the place from 800 to 1,500 ago and practiced a farming-based culture. 

The images and representations drawn are really vivid, and every new figure seems different. The reason for that is the paintings were not created at a single time. Different people came and left their art at different points in time.

Some images show hunters with spears, bows, and arrows, whereas some have figures of horses and other animals. These different artworks represent multiple ranges of things such as routine habits, lifestyle, cattle they herded, rituals, mythology, etc. 

The popularity gained by the ancient site has resulted in repeated vandalism and destruction of art. (source)


10 Saimaluu Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Sailmaluu Tash is an ancient site in Kyrgyzstan with more than 10,000 carved pictures that date back between the third to eighth centuries. These black and white petroglyphs are an important part of the global collection of rock art. 

Saimaluu Tash
Ancient petroglyphs engraved on a rock on Saimaluu Tash site in Kyrgyzstan. Image credit: Shutterstock

The meaning of the phrase “Saimaluu Tash” means the “place of embroidered or patterned stones” in the local language. It is located in a valley near Kazarman Village in Jalal-Abad Province. The creation is estimated to have begun in the Neolithic and Bronze Age and continued until the Iron Age. 

The themes of the carvings are very generic. Some show men hunting wild animals, some have people tilling the agricultural land, some figures also show rituals and dancing, and others show gratitude towards natural resources such as the Sun, rivers, mountains, etc. 

Most of the carvings are done on basalt stones and have the strange color scheme of black and white, but that’s exactly what sets them apart from the other rock art found at other places in the world. (1, 2)

Also Read:
10 Ancient Artifacts That Are Shrouded in Mystery

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