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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 prehistoric figurine.

Figurines

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

Image of prehistoric jewelry.

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.

Musical Instruments

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.

Image of figure painted on a rock.

Rock Art

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