I have always thought that art, of any kind, was in part a way to think about the artist’s place in the world. Not only to record it, as a means to communicate or retell the story of their life but also to help them understand the life/way of life, especially for those that lacked an understanding of the world as a whole. For example, a cave painting of a hunting scene not only records a great hunt, maybe to record it as a way to retell it but also how the hunter interacts with the world and how small he is in the scheme of things. Even though the artists had no way of knowing just how the big the world was, they had to understand how fragile their place in it was, how easily they could become ill or injured and die.
I think the art speaks of the amazement the people of the time had for their environment. People do not care to record something that is underwhelming but the things that amaze them. Who takes a picture of a grey and dreary cloud-covered day? No, most people take a picture of an awe-inspiring sunrise or sunset. Or a moose standing in their front yard. We want to record those things that inspire and amaze us and I feel it would have been the same for the earliest of artists.