The rock art of hunters and gatherers is called “pre-historic” because it was created before any historical documents or written evidence from this period existed except the works of art and/or everyday items or similar findings.
Therefore, we do not know the exact meaning of the rock art findings. Most of the locations were discovered during the last century. They have survived the centuries and have been in danger ever since they were discovered. Some of them are moistened by visitors in order to improve photographic effects, and sometimes attempts are made to trace them, or they are illuminated and touched, thereby being exposed to transience.
Wonderful rock art was discovered in France in 1944 by Chauvet (see picture above) but because these artistic depictions were damaged by the large numbers of visitors, some of the caves were closed to the public. Poorer countries cannot always guarantee such protection.
What constitutes the magic of these rock paintings which have been discovered worldwide and on every continent? They are documents of the first human beings, mainly from the period of hunters and gatherers who probably did not have to work as much as humans in later periods and therefore led quite different lives to farmers or pastoral nomads.
Despite the significant difference, there are similarities to modern man and to modern art, where depictions of plants and animals and of nature can be found. It is about expressing prototype and therefore archaic scenes of people’s lives, for example hunting, love and affinity. Some aspects of this living environment are closely connected to the time these paintings and engravings were created and other aspects appear timeless.
In this process, artistic expression seems to be an unexplained necessity and based on human skills, for example his ability of self-consciousness.