Have You Seen the World’s Oldest Art?


Have you ever thought about the world’s oldest art and when it was first made? Have you ever wondered who were the first artists and what kind of art did they make?

I recently took my video camera to the Museum of Natural History in New York City.  I went to the part of the museum devoted to early man.  It’s been updated and it is quite spectacular.

I took this video of the first art made by modern humans around 30,000 years ago.  Take a look.

I think the artifacts are incredibly interesting.  If you think about it, someone sat in a cave 40,000 years ago and made sculptures of wooly mammoths and sabre-toothed cats, animals that are extinct today.  But they lived side-by-side with these extraordinary mammals and other creatures.  When you stop and think about it, that’s pretty amazing.

The World’s Oldest Art – One of the Greatest Mysteries

Around 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, modern humans began making art.   Scientists call this era “The Great Cultural Revolution.”

No one knows why early Homo sapiens suddenly start making art in this period of human history.  It’s one of the great mysteries of the human species.  It’s especially mysterious when you consider that modern humans have been around for about 200,000 years.

So if you think about it, modern humans were on the scene here on planet Earth for more than 150,000 years before they ever made a single piece of art.  There is nothing in the fossil record in the way of art for all that time.  Pretty strange, huh?

Then, suddenly, it’s almost as if someone dropped in out of the blue and started it all.   The suddenness of it all is what baffles scientists who study early man.  It’s almost as if the species went through a door and were suddenly enlightened somehow.  Some Scientists think that when Homo Sapiens met Neanderthals in Central Europe that this was the source of the change.  But one one really knows.

All scientist know for certain is that when the art starts being made, it flourishes throughout the world of modern man.  And it continues to this day.

If you have a story about art made by early man, let us know about it in the comments below.

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  1. does the beginning of art coincide with the beginning of communication?

  2. Thanks for posting, this is quite intriguing.

  3. Its amazing ..I wonder if any of the art we create today will be around as long.

  4. I live in Sydney, not far from a national park where there is an Australian Indigenous rock carving estimated at 18,000 years old. There are cave paintings in the west of Australia estimated at around 40,000 years old (the oldest verifiable painting is 28,000 years old). Australian Indigenous art is the oldest unbroken tradition of art in the world, and a great deal of it is not only quite beautiful, but also accessible (I have touched some of it, albeit very gently). Australian Indigenous art made today for commercial exploitation can be a little different, but still potent, beautiful and in many cases utterly breathtaking, especially when it evokes imagery from thousands of years ago, reaching across the chasm of time and bringing it back to life.

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