Original paper

Art in caves

Bednarik, R.G.


Although the largest known concentrations of cave art are those of southwestern Europe, southern Australia and northern Papua New Guinea, smaller corpora do exist elsewhere. In the first two regions mentioned, such cave art has been demonstrated to be of the Pleistocene and up to about 50,000 years old. Cave art has been studied most intensively in the famous caves of France and Spain. Due to the specific speleoclimates of caves, lithological conditions and often the delicate nature of the cave art itself, the preservation of this immensely valuable and irreplaceable cultural resource, its conservation and its management are more demanding than those of any other rock art. In France and Spain, such practices are particularly well developed, and in Australia, efforts to design uniform management and protection measures are currently being undertaken by the Australian Rock Art Research Association. Cultural use of caves is a global phenomenon, including their role as sacred sites, and some examples of such practices are recounted in this paper.


preservationpleistoceneparietal artaustraliaeuropesite managementcavepre-history