At present, a large variety of fossils, tools and artifacts are being studied by paleoanthropologists and other Stone Age scholars, in order to fix their date of origin.
In addition, it seems likely that Aboriginal rock art in Australia will also - in the not too distant future - be discovered to be much older than presently thought.
Sadly, none of the prehistoric rock carvers, sculptors or painters are known to us, so their works will have to speak for themselves!
Thus this list of the earliest art by our ancestors like Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis, and Homo sapiens sapiens - should be seen merely as a snapshot of an ongoing process of discovery.
Only recently (2012), we have seen the chronology of Paleolithic art and culture changed completely by Uranium/Thorium dating tests on the cave art of El Castillo and Altamira.
The method also assumes a 'zeroing' event in the life of the material, when it was either last heated or exposed to sunlight.
Here is a list of the top 10 oldest works of Prehistoric art created during the Stone Age.
It features all the major types of Paleolithic art yet discovered, including: petroglyphs (the oldest type of cultural expression), parietal art (like cave painting, as well as hand stencils and other abstract signs) and also mobiliary art (like ivory carving and other portable forms of sculpture).
Please note that any compilation of Stone Age art is bound to be both selective and subject to revision as new archeological discoveries are made.
Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years so dating is limited to between a few hundred and about 50,000 years. It is also important that samples for dating are collected carefully to ensure they have not been contaminated with more recent carbon.
Radiocarbon analysis can only be used on organic materials, and is often used to date charcoal associated with campfires and archaeological deposits.
Optical dating, also known as optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), dates the last time mineral sediments (usually quartz or feldspar grains ) were exposed to sunlight.