Rock art is often discovered with a sense of mystery. The work was not signed or framed, but rather left hiding in a dark isolated cave. This makes it difficult to explain the rock art, but that has not stopped archaeologists from creating their own theories. The danger of theories though is that people draw from what they know, which includes their own culture and life style. Life was not the same and even cognitive abilities were still developing.
Initially, the theory that I would have given would have been art for art’s sake. Personally I believe that there are times when modern day humans complicate forms of art with our need for some symbolic meaning. If we put the work into perspective, species such as Homo neanderthalensis lacked the ability to symbolize. But the more that I consider this theory, it seems less plausible. Species during this time were most likely still a hunter and gather community. Therefore, men could not have had the time to just leisurely create art. Women would have been too busy with children to leisurely create art. That leaves children or the theory that the art had some kind of significance.
After considering all of the theories, I would believe the marked gathering location. During periods of unfavorable weather, a cave would be a safe shelter from the elements. Perhaps the artwork was used for storytelling. It could have been used for purposes of gloating or to keep children preoccupied. This theory is the most plausible to me, but it is all a matter of perspective.
It has been claimed that these first artists possessed skills to rival da Vinci. To be able to use shading to render something in three dimension requires some kind of ability to spatially visualize. In modern day humans, it has been determined that men usually possessed greater ability to think spatially. If this trend is a result of our possible ancestors, then perhaps men were the artists in the cave. Furthermore, this species must have possessed a great memory and attention for detail. Thus, it would seem that at this particular period the parietal and temporal parts of the brain were developing.