Cave paintings known as Lascaux cave paintings dating back to approximately 15,000-13,000 BCE depict over 6,000 animal representations, including the Chinese Horse of Lascaux. Two cave paintings from this period belong to the Magdalenian era, circa 15,000-12,000 BCE. The Great Hall of Bulls in Lascaux contains over 600 paintings of diverse animals. Cave paintings from other sites in Europe also display large wild animals like horses.
The oldest painting in Lascaux, the dun horse painting, is estimated to have been created between 15,000-10,000 BCE. It is one of the oldest paintings worldwide. Horses were a critical element of life during that time and were painted extensively in various rock shelters around Europe. Horses are believed to have been a vital source of food, tools, transport, and even companionship. The Lascaux cave paintings’ horses have unique features, such as a full-grown mane and arched backs, and most of the paintings suggest movement through the use of lines, shading, and stone contours.
Due to technological advancements, we have the opportunity to study these ancient cave paintings in high resolution, revealing hidden details and sophisticated techniques used by our ancestors. Although the exact purpose of these horse cave paintings remains largely unknown, they depict an array of life aspects and demonstrate the early humans’ knowledge of art and animals.