Many theories have been suggested, along with several different methods of interpreting the evidence at hand, but a consensus has yet to be reached in over a century of study.[Part of the reason for the difficulty in interpreting cave paintings is the fact that scholars still know relatively little about the prehistoric societies responsible for them.
What changed in the course of human history that led to the creation of these caves and works like the Venus of Willendorf (c.These dates open the floodgates for researchers to ask and answer questions about the rock art that have baffled them for decades. In some sites, paintings continued to be made for more than a thousand years.”This is astonishing,” says Pearce, ”people returned to the same rock shelters over very long periods of time to make rock paintings very similar to those made centuries or millennia before.Since the images recorded on cave walls are closest things we have to surviving records or narratives from these pre-literate societies, scholars run into something of a catch-twenty-two when attempting to interpret them because narratives and records usually inform most art historical interpretations.[ Some researchers have attempted to fill in gaps in the knowledge base about the place of cave art in prehistoric French and Spanish societies by drawing analogies with tribes like those in Australia who still produce cave art today, while others have argued that there is absolutely no reason to assume that such paintings serve the same or similar functions cross culturally.[Like most other aspects of prehistoric European culture, the precise nature of the religious practice of the tribes who practiced cave painting remains a mystery, yet it is highly probably that these practices and beliefs were closely tied to the function of cave art.Some potential interpretations take the view that cave art was important for its existence and content, while others assert that its primary significance was in the ritual act of painting or engraving it.Scientists have pioneered a technique to directly date prehistoric rock paintings in southern Africa, which reveal dates much older than previously thought.