Earth's Children
The Land of the Painted Caves

The Land of Painted Caves is the 6th and final book in the Earth's Children series. It was written by Jean M. Auel and published published in March 2011. The Land Of Painted Caves concludes the story of Ayla, her mate Jondalar, and their little daughter, Jonayla, taking readers on a journey of discovery and adventure as Ayla struggles to find a balance between her duties as a new mother and her training to become a Zelandoni--one of the Ninth Cave community’s spiritual leaders and healers.


In this three-part book, Ayla is 20 (in part 1), about 23 (in part 2) and 26 (in part 3) and is training to become a spiritual leader for the Zelandonii. Most of the first and second parts of the book involve Ayla's acolyte training to become Zelandoni. The third part of the book contains most of the action of the story and plot line.

Part 1[]

In the first part, Ayla is at a Summer Meeting and she begins to learn what an acolyte does. Ayla and the First decide to start Ayla's Donier Tour-- a tour of the sacred caves in the wider region. Jondalar, Jonayla, their animals and many others decide to travel along.

Part 2[]

The second part is mainly about the caves they visit. In many of the Sacred caves the Ancients, the people before the Zelandonii, left drawings. Ayla meets many other Zelandoni and one of them gives her a pouch of dried herbs smelling faintly of mint. Ayla also discovers that the Clan visit some of the sacred caves as well.

Part 3[]

In the third part of the book, Ayla is marking the passage of the sun and moon's phases as part of her training as an acolyte. One night she is distracted and decides to share Pleasures with Jondalar, starting a baby. However, most of her Cave leaves for the Summer Meeting, but Ayla stays behind until Midsummer so she can finish her observation of the celestial bodies. During this time she takes care of Marthona, her mother-in-law, as well as the others in her Cave. One night Ayla makes some mint tea, actually the dried herb mixture given to her in the second part of the book, and is Called. If an acolyte is Called, then she will be tested by the Zelandonia, and initiated into the Zelandonia if the Calling is true. Ayla puts down her drink and runs along a river into a cave, where she spends the next three days hallucinating. Wolf wakes her from her visions, and she finds herself in the dark cave. She allows Wolf to lead her out of the cave, but not before finding a bag hidden there by Madroman, an unskilled acolyte who faked his Calling, and who has had a deep-seated hatred of Jondalar since adolescence.

Outside are people from her Cave who were worried about her absence, and it is discovered that Ayla miscarried. She spends the next few days recovering from her experience and helps deliver a friend's baby. After delivering the baby, Ayla travels to the Summer Meeting. Upon her arrival, she finds Jondalar sharing Pleasures with Marona (Marona being Jondalar's bitter ex-girlfriend whom he abandoned to go travelling in the second book, and who actively and spitefully caused Ayla much difficultly when she first arrived at Jondalar's home). This leaves a rift between Ayla and Jondalar. She turns Madroman's bag over to the Zelandonia, and he is rejected from their ranks for his attempted deception. Ayla is accepted into the Zelandonia and attempts to use a dangerous hallucinogenic root as part of her initiation - one that was greatly feared by her first mentor, Mamut. The rift with Jondalar is only healed when he manages to call her back from the death-like coma induced by the root.

The spiritual knowledge Ayla's Calling brings to the community is that men are active in the conception of a baby during 'Pleasures', which leads to the start of recognized fatherhood and that men have purpose on earth equal to that of women, and subsequently leads to the need for monogamous relationships to reduce jealousy/possessiveness over sexual partners and for fathers to take responsibility for children, thus shaping this prehistoric culture further to match our current one.



The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel - Official Trailer


De hellige hulers land (Jean M. Auel) - Aschehoug bokfilm


Town Hall, Platform 1 (2)

Billboard in Town Hall, Sydney.

The release of Land of Painted Caves was heavily promoted. More than any previous book. In Australia billboards promoted the release.

Pitt Street Mall (2)

Ayla and Jondalar handing out matchboxes.

In book stores special matchboxes, featuring the book's cover, where handed out for free. Couples in caveman costumes handed out the boxes on the streats.



The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel - Augmented Reality Explanation


A English limited edition version of the book contained an augmented reality model of Ayla. This feature, called "Meet Ayla" was developed in collaboration with Jean Auel. When a smartphone is aimed at the front cover Ayla's model will appear. Ayla will throw a spear and says "I am Ayla of the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii, and in the name of the Great Mother I greet you." The Germanic editions of the novel had an animation of the painted cave.

The German version of the book featured a rock with a cave painting. Augmented Mind developed the augmented reality app Ayla. When a smartphone is aimed at the cover, the rock cave be pushed aside. In an animation the viewer enters the cave and sees the cave painting. The music of the Mother's Song is played.[1]


Book 6 signing

Maya Mavjee, president and publisher of the Crown Publishing Group, said “The Land Of Painted Caves is a brilliant achievement by one of the world’s most beloved authors. Jean M. Auel’s millions of fans, who have been eagerly awaiting the next installment of the epic story of Ayla and Jondalar, will not be disappointed by this stirring and satisfying finale.” Auel’s longtime agent Jean Naggar added: “Once again, the launch of this latest book in Jean Auel’s unique series promises to be an international extravaganza. Working with this extraordinary author and series from its beginnings has been a great personal and professional pleasure. The Land Of Painted Caves is a triumph and a wonderful read.”[citation needed]

Goodreads gave the novel a 3.09 out of 5, based on 14,871 ratings ratings.[2]



The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel

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Release day[]

Book covers[]


  1. "Ayla" (2011, March 28). Ayla - Augmented Reality Buchcover. Retrieved from
  2. Information retrieved at 2014-08-14. Link.