Prehistoric art

Humans make art. We do this for many reasons and with whatever technologies are available to us. Prehistoric art refers artifacts made before there was a written record. Long before the oldest written languages were developed, people had become expert at creating forms that were both practical and beautiful. The earliest art comes from the Paleolithic era (the Old Stone Age), but it was in the Neolithic era that we see the most important developments in human history. The way we live today—settled in cities, protected by laws, eating food from farms—all this dates back approximately 10,000 years ago to the Neolithic era.

bannerstone grid
Between 6000 and 1000 B.C.E., thousands of nomadic Native Americans travelled and lived along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, making enigmatic, carefully carved stones.

Bannerstones, North America

The monuments at Orkney give a graphic depiction of life in this remote archipelago in the far north of Scotland some 5,000 years ago.


This is Europe's largest and most important concentration of prehistoric megalithic art.

Brú na Bóinne

Lion Man
The cave lion was the fiercest animal of the ice age, and this mammoth ivory carving combines human with lion.

Lion Man