Ancient Rock Art: Definition, Types & Location Explained

Rock Art

The archeological term ‘Rock art’ is a mark of human existence that explains to us about the history and many more things of the period. Rock art has been noticed in many areas and eras of the world that signifies important details.

Finally, ancient rock art was a revolution during the 1980s and 1990s as many archeologists gave attention to the field. It was then they understood that this could be helpful to understand the religious system, gender relation, cultural change, cultural boundaries, origin, etc.

In many places, ancient art has become tourist spots that show cultural values. 

What’s the definition of ‘Rock art’?

In a very simple term, it is done on the natural rock surface that can be found on the sides of walls of caves, cliffs, sheer standing rocks, and boulders. This is also known as ‘Rock craving’, ‘Rock engraving’, ‘Rock drawing’, ‘Rock painting’. There are 3 main types of rock art to keep in mind: Carved, painted, and large surface scrapping.

What are the types of ‘Rock Arts’?

Petroglyphs Rock Art: The surface of the rock is engraved or carved or removes specific patterns and is left on site. In the olden days, men used hammers to create this ancient art. Many of the times a 2nd rock shaped like a blade was used to scratch or carve the rock for this form of art. In the olden age, the man was able to make complicated, fine-line, and clean designs with this.

A ‘Cupule’ is a less complicated ancient rock art form of petroglyphs and has a cup-shaped rock with a side hole on the structure. This is considered to be the oldest. These were mainly used to carve rituals and symbolic meaning. Even though this art form looks simple, men spent hours making this ancient art in the old ages. 

Cave Painting: Also known as ‘Pictographs’ is regarded as one of the most beautiful forms of ancient rock art. Amazing thing is, this kind of art is found all over the world and dates deep into the human past. In old age, men used brushes, stamps, hands, and fingers to apply colors.

Painting sites that remain shelter sites like caves survive for a long time. Thus, ‘Cave painting’ is a commonly known name for this ancient rock art. exposed painted art is lost to us.

The colors that are used in this art were made from ochres, charcoal, ground minerals, natural chalk, kaolinite clays, and even diatomaceous earth. These substances were mixed with different liquids like water, eggs, and blood to make red, white & white paints.

Low relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. They are considered to be a representation of cosmological ideas like the cycle of nature, fertility, celestial being, beliefs about sacred relationships found in nature.

Now, this type of ancient rock is found close to ‘Petroglyphs’. They are simpler but hard to connect to sites nearby. Stick figures, triangles with silt, sunburst, plumes, and spirals are usually used in this art.

Caves and rock walls are the places where normally pictography is found. Every site with this rock art has its own interpretation.   

Geoglyphs Rock Art: This is formed on the ground. Thus, it’s also known as ‘Earth figures’. This kind of art is mostly large-size on the ground that can be seen from the sky as well. 

This is normally piled up with rocks to make a visibly noticeable structure. Archeologists were shocked to witness such beauty from the ancient era that was detailed thoroughly.

Where have we found these ancient rock art?

On many locations of the earth, we discovered different types of ancient rock arts that are kept intact and adds value to the location. The lists of the places are as follow,

  1. Europe: France, Spain, Sicily, Italy, and Britain, etc are the place where we can witness it. 
  2. Africa: North, East, and South Africa have a large number of places that are home to ancient art.
  3. Asia: Central Asia, Western Asia, South Asia, South-East Asia, and East Asia covers a large part of rock art from the old ages.
  4. America: Ancient rock art is spread over a large area of America that covers a lot of places.
  5. Australia: Archeologists discovered more than 100 thousand ancient rock sites in Australia that are from different eras. 
  6. New Zealand: North Otago and South Canterbury have a rich range of these types of art.


Ancient rock art has been one of the prominent parts of history and has helped us to understand ancient civilization better.

At Secret temples, you will learn about many religions, temples, and ancient art forms.


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