Potassium argon dating how it works
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.
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.
Thus much of the finest African art and primitive "tribal art" as well as aboriginal "Oceanic art" from the Paleolithic world, are already lost to us.
NOTE: One miraculous discovery occurred in 1890, in a peat bog near Sverdlovsk in the Urals, where archeologists found the Shigir Idol (7,500 BCE), the oldest surving example of wood carving.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the Bradshaw Paintings (c.15,500 BCE) appeared, along with a wide variety of pictographs and petroglyphs made by the aboriginal creators of Ubirr Rock Art in Arnhem Land, Kimberley Rock Art in northern Australia and Burrup Peninsula Rock Art in the Pilbara.
Meanwhile Japanese art emerged in the form of ancient Jomon Pottery (from 14,500 BCE).
Thus sometimes, dating is dependent on paleontologist scholarship to provide the historical context against which an artifact's relevance and age can be assessed, through stylistic comparison with cave paintings and engravings at other archeological sites.
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.
Also, any compilation of ancient art is limited by the hand of nature: after all, over hundreds of millennia, soft rock crumbles, pigments disappear, and wood perishes.The peat had helped to preserve the wooden image from decay.7. Venus of Hohle Fels (c.38,000-33,000 BCE) Ivory sculpture of an obese female.El Castillo Cave Paintings (Red Disk) (c.39,000 BCE) Recent Uranium/Thorium (U/Th) dating techniques show that a large red-ocre dot or disk in this Cantabrian cave was painted at least as early as 39,000 BCE, making it the world's oldest cave painting yet found. Sulawesi Cave Art (c.37,900 BCE) Cave paintings of hand stencils and animals at the Leang Timpuseng Cave. Lion Man of the Hohlenstein Stadel (38,000 BCE) This ivory carving of a human figure with alion's head, unearthed in a cave inside Hohlenstein Mountain of the Swabian Jura, is the oldest known anthropomorphic carving in the world, and the oldest piece of sculpture of the Upper Paleolithic. The oldest of the Venus figurines that appeared in Europe during the Upper Paleolithic. Hohle Fels Cave in the Swabian Jura of southwestern Germany.This relies on the fact that a number of radioactive isotopes (like uranium) are known to decay into daughter products at a known constant rate.Probably the best known example of radiometric testing of living organisms, that may have been found at the site, is carbon-14 (radiocarbon) dating, which relies on Carbon-14 absorption. Pike at the caves of El Castillo and Altamira is known as Uranium/Thorium dating.
The same applies to archeological sites, containing rock art like cupules, petroglyphs, pictographs and other prehistoric works.