Paleolithic Finger Flutings

Paleolithic Finger Flutings

Chamber A1 of Rouffignac Cave

Companion Card


Scientists have uncovered evidence that prehistoric children used to "finger paint" on cave walls, much the same way that children experiment with paint today. The evidence suggests that children as young as 2-years-old participated in the finger flutings. The flutings pictured above are specific to a 5-year-old girl. Her flutings are found in many different places in the cave, some being high up on walls.

Writing Prompts

How do you think children first thought to draw on a cave wall?

If you lived thousands of years ago, why would you want to paint on a cave wall?

Lesson Idea

Content Objective: Students will create an artwork based on the drawings in Rouffignac Cave.

Language Objective: Students will discuss with their peers the finger flutings found in Rouffignac Cave.

Key Vocabulary: Rouffignac, finger flutings

TEKS: (4.3) - Historical/Cultural Heritage. The student demonstrates and understanding of art history and culture as records of human achievement. The students is expected to:

(a) identify simple main ideas expressed in art

National Standard: 3. Content Standard: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

Achievement Standard: The Student:

d. use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner

Procedure: Start by reading The First Drawing, by Mordicai Gerstein. Talk to the students about the cave drawings that are thought to be made by children. Give each students a piece of brown construction paper. Have them crumple it up into a ball and then unfold it so that it resembles a cave wall. Tell students that they will be using chalk to create their cave drawings. They need to think about something that is important to them that they want to record on their piece of wall. There are also some variations that you can include in the project to make it more interesting.

1. Have students tape their paper under their desk or on wall so that they are closer to actually drawing on a cave wall.

2. Have students divided up into tables or groups and just give them a few pieces of chalk. Tell students that each table is a different cave, and they are different tribes of cave men. The "resources" they have or (chalk) is dependent on how resourceful their tribe is. If chalk falls on the floor, it is free game and other cavemen can "steal" it. They can also trade resources if they want to, or "hunt" for other ones in places around the room. I did this with my students, and they really got into being cavemen.


Gerstein, M. (2013). The First Drawing. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.