Art & Music

Art & Music

By 40,000 years ago, humans were creating musical instruments and two- and three-dimensional images of the world around them. By 17,000 years ago, they had developed all the major representational techniques including painting, drawing, engraving, sculpture, ceramics, and stenciling. Working on stone, ivory, antler, and occasionally clay, they created imaginative and highly complex works of art.


Image of figure painted on a rock.

Explore rock art made by modern humans from around the world using the early crayons and other art implements shown here.

Image of prehistoric figurine.

Animal, human, and other figurines were created by modern humans beginning at least 35,000 years ago.

Image of prehistoric jewelry.

Our ancestors used jewelry and other personal adornments to reflect their identity. These adornments may have represented membership in a particular group or someone’s age, sex, and social status.

Image of prehistoric musical instrument.

Making music is a universal human trait that goes back to at least 35,000 years ago. Explore the evidence for some of the world's earliest musical instruments.

Tata Plaque, carved of mammoth tooth enamel; Tata, Hungary

Modern humans created decorated objects using a variety of techniques.