There are a lot of theories about the reason prehistoric humans drew and sculpted. Some say that it's pure art, other believe that it's a communication form, let it be from shamans, magic, beliefs or knowledge. On top of these two comes a third theory where humans back there were on drugs which allowed them to draw symbols the mind sees when in transe.
First let's take the oldest cave drawings discovered until now in Chauvet caves.
''The wall paintings of Chauvet are instinctive and emotional; they reveal a choiceless impulsiveness, unpolluted by the intellect. there were homo sapiens who “had distinctly pre-modern minds, have been little given to symbolic thought, have had no great ...view middle of the document...
For example, the famous "hunting accident" in the Cave of Lascau, is painted near the bottom of a twenty-foot shaft in a remote corner of the cave, with room enough only for a single person to view it at a time. The extreme rarity of the images and the fact that they depict human beings or human-like entities also suggest their unique importance. the images have been interpreted variously as sorcerers, mythic ancestors, gods, and human hunters in costume. However, if we accept David-Lewis' interpretation of the geometric images on the walls of the Paleolithic caves, it is likely that therianthropic paintings depict shamans in states of trance. On this interpretation, the bird-headed human figure painted in the shaft at Lascaux is not the victim of a hunting accident, but a shaman whose ecstatic trance state is represented by an erect penis, hard to account for in other interpretations. The bird-headed staff, perhaps was a ritual instrument, and the bison spilling its entrails an animal spirit encountered and perhaps killed in the other world, in an act of hunting magic such as Abbe Breuil described.''²
¹̵ http://www.academia.edu/1585182/Truest_Art_of_Them_All_Paleolithic_Cave_Paintings_of_ChauvetTruest_Art_of_Them _All_Paleolithic_Cave_Paintings_of_Chauvet
² http://www.faculty.umb.edu/gary_zabel/Courses/Phil%20281/Philosophy%20of%20 Magic/My%20Documents/Therianthropes.htm
"The most obvious interpretation of the scene in the Shaft is that it is connected with hunting magic, perhaps the re-enactment of a hunting accident. But the most obvious explanation may not be the correct one, for three pairs of dots separate the rhinoceros from the rest of the scene''
"The beautiful paintings on cave walls found near Lascaux, France represent the earliest surviving examples of the artistic expression of early people. Using the natural rock contours that suggest the volume of the animals, these 'primitive' people of the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) painted evocative and startlingly accurate representations of the animals that were such an important part of their lives. Cows, bulls, horses, bison, and deer are among the animals seen on the subterranean walls of these caves. These paintings were found deep underground, and were undoubtedly painted by the light of torches. Moreover, images are painted over previous images, and it is thought that these caves were continuously used for thousands of years. Through sympathetic magic, perhaps these early humans believed that by drawing these images, they would help to guarantee plentiful herds and good hunting. Another theory is that it was believed that man had to paint these images to 'replace' the animals that he would hunt and kill. Whatever the motivation, it is clear that the painting of these images was important, and the careful observation of nature that is evident here is remarkable"
'' A good way to understand how important art is and always was for humans would be to imagine the time it...