Rock art incorporates various artistic practices such as pictographs and petroglyphs. It is the human endeavor, in any case, of marking stone and its earliest known occurrence dates to the Upper Paleolithic era (also known as the later Stone Age dating back 50,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago). Some of the oldest examples of rock art have been found in Africa, Europe, and Asia. This form of art is often regarded as an ancient practice, yet various indigenous tribes around the globe still revere it for its cultural or religious significance.
Most rock art has historically adorned natural rock and rock surfaces. The art may be deemed rock inscriptions, rock engravings, rock paintings, and rock sculptures, for instance, and has occurred in various places around the world. In addition, rock art encompasses various motifs that may be repeated in various world regions. Animals, for example, whether painted or carved have been a significant motif of rock art. Other popular motifs include humans hunting, farming, or even waging battle. In studying ancient rock art, archaeologists are able to learn something of these Stone Age peoples’ way of life and their views about life within a cultural and even a religious context.
Of the main types of rock art, pictographs are among the most well known examples of rock art and were typically created using ground minerals for painting or drawing images or scenes on rock surfaces. Petroglyphs or rock engravings also represent a significant percentage of known rock art. Other types of rock art include figures made on the stony surface of the earth like intaglio rock art; this type of art form was used to create the celebrated Nazca Lines of Peru that date to the period between 400 and 650 AD.
Many rock art sites are world famous. The oldest site known is the Chauvet Cave site in France which is regarded as one of the most important prehistoric art sites in the world. Other major rock art sites include Chaco Culture National Historical Park (U.S.), Petroglyph National Park (U.S.), Painted Rocks (U.S.), Bhimbetka Rock Shelters (India), Rock Paintings of Hua Mountain (China), Kakadu National Park (Australia), Cave of Swimmers (Egypt), Tsodilo Hills (Botswana), Tadrart Acacus (Libya), Tassili n’Ajjer (Algeria), Loughcrew (Ireland), Valcamonica (Italy), Lascaux (France), and Alta Mira (Spain).
Various rock art sites have been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Others remain part of the national or regional heritage where they’re located. Many of the sites and certainly most of the major ones continue to have cultural significance and even economic impact as they have become rock art tourist sites that draw visitors from around the world as well as scholars and researchers interested in their study. In conjunction with found artifacts, these rock art sites are of considerable importance to archaeologists and their studies of the ancient past.