The Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave in the Ardèche department of southern France is a cave that contains some of the best-preserved figurative cave paintings in the world, as well as other evidence of Upper Paleolithic life. It is located near the commune of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc on a limestone cliff above the former bed of the Ardèche River, in the Gorges de l'Ardèche.
Discovered on December 18, 1994, it is considered one of the most significant prehistoric art sites and the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO granted it World Heritage status on June 22, 2014. The cave was first explored by a group of three speleologists: Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, Christian Hillaire, and Jean-Marie Chauvet for whom it was named six months after an aperture now known as "Le Trou de Baba" was discovered by Michel Rosa (Baba). At a later date the group returned to the cave. Another member of this group, Michel Chabaud, along with two others, travelled further into the cave and discovered the Gallery of the Lions, the End Chamber. Chauvet has his own detailed account of the discovery. In addition to the paintings and other human evidence, they also discovered fossilized remains, prints, and markings from a variety of animals, some of which are now extinct.
Further study by French archaeologist Jean Clottes has revealed much about the site. The dates have been a matter of dispute but a study published in 2012 supports placing the art in the Aurignacian period, approximately 32,000–30,000 years BP. A study published in 2016 using additional 88 radiocarbon dates showed two periods of habitation, one 37,000 to 33,500 years ago and the second from 31,000 to 28,000 years ago with most of the black drawings dating to the earlier period.
|Decorated cave of Pont d'Arc, known as Grotte Chauvet-Pont d'Arc, Ardèche|
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Criteria||Cultural: i, iii|
|Inscription||2014 (38th Session)|
|Buffer zone||1,353 ha|
Location in France
The cave is situated above the previous course of the Ardèche River before the Pont d'Arc opened up. The gorges of the Ardèche region are the site of numerous caves, many of them having some geological or archaeological importance.
Based on radiocarbon dating, the cave appears to have been used by humans during two distinct periods: the Aurignacian and the Gravettian. Most of the artwork dates to the earlier, Aurignacian, era (32,000 to 30,000 years ago). The later Gravettian occupation, which occurred 27,000 to 25,000 years ago, left little but a child's footprints, the charred remains of ancient hearths, and carbon smoke stains from torches that lit the caves. The footprints may be the oldest human footprints that can be dated accurately. After the child's visit to the cave, evidence suggests that due to a landslide which covered its historical entrance, the cave remained untouched until it was discovered in 1994.
The soft, clay-like floor of the cave retains the paw prints of cave bears along with large, rounded depressions that are believed to be the "nests" where the bears slept. Fossilized bones are abundant and include the skulls of cave bears and the horned skull of an ibex. A set of foot prints of a young child and a wolf or dog walking side by side was found in this cave. This information suggests the origin of the domestic dog could date to before the last ice age.
Hundreds of animal paintings have been catalogued, depicting at least 13 different species, including some rarely or never found in other ice age paintings. Rather than depicting only the familiar herbivores that predominate in Paleolithic cave art, i.e. horses, aurochs, mammoths, etc., the walls of the Chauvet Cave feature many predatory animals, e.g., cave lions, panthers, bears, and cave hyenas. There are also paintings of rhinoceroses.
Typical of most cave art, there are no paintings of complete human figures, although there is one partial "Venus" figure composed of what appears to be a vulva attached to an incomplete pair of legs. Above the Venus, and in contact with it, is a bison head, which has led some to describe the composite drawing as a Minotaur. There are a few panels of red ochre hand prints and hand stencils made by blowing pigment over hands pressed against the cave surface. Abstract markings—lines and dots—are found throughout the cave. There are also two unidentifiable images that have a vaguely butterfly or avian shape to them. This combination of subjects has led some students of prehistoric art and cultures to believe that there was a ritual, shamanic, or magical aspect to these paintings.
One drawing, later overlaid with a sketch of a deer, is reminiscent of a volcano spewing lava, similar to the regional volcanoes that were active at the time. If confirmed, this would represent the earliest known drawing of a volcanic eruption.
The artists who produced these paintings used techniques rarely found in other cave art. Many of the paintings appear to have been made only after the walls were scraped clear of debris and concretions, leaving a smoother and noticeably lighter area upon which the artists worked. Similarly, a three-dimensional quality and the suggestion of movement are achieved by incising or etching around the outlines of certain figures. The art is also exceptional for its time for including "scenes", e.g., animals interacting with each other; a pair of woolly rhinoceroses, for example, are seen butting horns in an apparent contest for territory or mating rights.
The cave contains some of the oldest known cave paintings, based on radiocarbon dating of "black from drawings, from torch marks and from the floors", according to Jean Clottes. Clottes concludes that the "dates fall into two groups, one centered around 27,000–26,000 BP and the other around 32,000–30,000 BP." As of 1999, the dates of 31 samples from the cave had been reported. The earliest, sample Gifa 99776 from "zone 10", dates to 32,900 ± 490 BP.
Some archaeologists have questioned these dates. Christian Züchner, relying on stylistic comparisons with similar paintings at other well-dated sites, expressed the opinion that the red paintings are from the Gravettian period (c. 28,000–23,000 BP) and the black paintings are from the Early Magdalenian period (early part of c. 18,000–10,000 BP). Pettitt and Bahn also contended that the dating is inconsistent with the traditional stylistic sequence and that there is uncertainty about the source of the charcoal used in the drawings and the extent of surface contamination on the exposed rock surfaces. Stylistic studies showed that some Gravettian engravings are superimposed on black paintings proving the paintings' older origins.
By 2011, more than 80 radiocarbon dates had been taken, with samples from torch marks and from the paintings themselves, as well as from animal bones and charcoal found on the cave floor. The radiocarbon dates from these samples suggest that there were two periods of creation in Chauvet: 35,000 years ago and 30,000 years ago. This would place the occupation and painting of the cave within the Aurignacian period.
A research article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in May 2012 by scientists from the University of Savoy, Aix-Marseille University and the Centre National de Prehistoire confirmed that the paintings were created by people in the Aurignacian era, between 30,000 and 32,000 years ago. The researchers’ findings are based on the analysis using geomorphological and 36
Cl dating of the rock slide surfaces around what is believed to be the cave’s only entrance. Their analysis showed that the entrance was sealed by a collapsing cliff some 29,000 years ago. Their findings put the date of human presence in the cave and the paintings in line with that deduced from radiocarbon dating, i.e., between 32,000–30,000 years BP.
A 2016 study in the same journal examining 259 radiocarbon dates, some unpublished before, concluded that there were two phases of human occupation, one running from 37,000 to 33,500 years ago and the second from 31,000 to 28,000 years ago. All but two of the dates for the black drawings were from the earlier phase. The authors believe that the first phase ended with a rockfall that sealed the cave, with two more rockfalls at the end of the second occupation phase after which no humans or large animals entered the cave until it was rediscovered. In an email to the Los Angeles Times two of the authors explained,
A human group (band or tribe) visited the Chauvet cave during the first period around 36,000 years ago for cultural purposes. They produced black drawings of huge mammals. Then, several thousands of years after, another group from another place with another culture visited the cave.
The cave has been sealed off to the public since 1994. Access is severely restricted owing to the experience with decorated caves such as Altamira and Lascaux found in the 19th and 20th century, where the admission of visitors on a large scale led to the growth of mold on the walls that damaged the art in places. In 2000 the archaeologist and expert on cave paintings Dominique Baffier was appointed to oversee conservation and management of the cave. She was followed in 2014 by Marie Bardisa.
Caverne du Pont-d'Arc, a facsimile of Chauvet Cave on the model of the so-called "Faux Lascaux", was opened to the general public on 25 April 2015. It is the largest cave replica ever built worldwide, ten times bigger than the Lascaux facsimile. The art is reproduced full-size in a condensed replica of the underground environment, in a circular building above ground, a few kilometres from the actual cave. Visitors’ senses are stimulated by the same sensations of silence, darkness, temperature, humidity and acoustics, carefully reproduced. A virtual visit of the cave, made from 3D imagery, is also available to the public.
The year 1994 in science and technology involved many significant events, listed below.Arcy-sur-Cure
Arcy-sur-Cure is a commune in the Yonne department in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in north-central France.
The caves of Arcy-sur-Cure, just south of the commune, hold the second-oldest cave paintings known, after those of Chauvet Cave. Archeological remains at the Grotte du Renne were taken to provide evidence that Neanderthals had modern human behavior, but this is now doubted.Aurignacian
The Aurignacian () is an archaeological tradition of the Upper Palaeolithic
associated with European early modern humans (EEMH). The Upper Paleolithic developed in Europe some time after the Levant, where the Emiran period and the Ahmarian period form the very first periods of the Upper Paleolithic, corresponding to the first stages of the expansion of Homo sapiens out of Africa. From this stage, the first modern humans probably migrated to Europe to form the beginning of the European Upper Paleolithic, including the Aurignacian culture.An Early Aurignacian or Proto-Aurignacian stage is dated between about 43,000 and 37,000 years ago. The Aurignacian proper lasts from about 37,000 to 33,000 years ago. A Late Aurignacian phase transitional with the Gravettian dates to about 33,000 to 26,000 years ago.
The type site is the Cave of Aurignac, Haute-Garonne, south-west France. The main preceding period is the Mousterian of the Neanderthals.
One of the oldest examples of figurative art, the Venus of Hohle Fels, comes from the Aurignacian and is dated to between 40,000 and 35,000 years ago (though now earlier figurative art may be known, see Lubang Jeriji Saléh). It was discovered in September 2008 in a cave at Schelklingen in Baden-Württemberg in western Germany. The German Lion-man figure is given a similar date range. The Bacho Kiro site in Bulgaria is one of the earliest known Aurignacian burials.A "Levantine Aurignacian" culture is known from the Levant, with a type of blade technology very similar to the European Aurignacian, following chronologically the Emiran and Early Ahmarian in the same area of the Near East, and also closely related to them. The Levantine Aurignacian may have preceded European Aurignacian, but there is a possibility that the Levantine Aurignacian was rather the result of reverse influence from the European Aurignacian: this remains unsettled.Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a 2010 3D documentary film by Werner Herzog about the Chauvet Cave in southern France, which contains the oldest human-painted images yet discovered. Some of them were crafted around 32,000 years ago. The film premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival and consists of images from inside the cave as well as of interviews with various scientists and historians. The film also includes footage of the nearby Pont d'Arc natural bridge.Cave painting
Cave paintings are a type of parietal art (which category also includes petroglyphs, or engravings),
found on the wall or ceilings of caves. The term usually implies prehistoric origin, but cave paintings can also be of recent production: In the Gabarnmung cave of northern Australia,
the oldest paintings certainly predate 28,000 years ago, while the most recent ones were made less than a century ago.The oldest known cave paintings are over 40,000 years old (art of the Upper Paleolithic), found in both the Franco-Cantabrian region in western Europe, and in the caves in the district of Maros (Sulawesi, Indonesia). The oldest type of cave paintings are hand stencils and simple geometric shapes; the oldest undisputed examples of figurative cave paintings are somewhat younger, close to 35,000 years old.
A 2018 study claimed an age of 64,000 years for the oldest examples of (non-figurative) cave art in Iberia, which would imply production by Neanderthals rather than modern humans. In November 2018, scientists reported the discovery of the oldest known figurative art painting, over 40,000 (perhaps as old as 52,000) years old, of an unknown animal, in the cave of Lubang Jeriji Saléh on the Indonesian island of Borneo.Caverne du Pont-d'Arc
The Caverne du Pont-d'Arc is a replica of the Chauvet Cave in the commune of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, in the department of Ardèche and in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. Construction began in October 2012 and it was opened to the public in 2015.Caves of Arcy-sur-Cure
The caves of Arcy-sur-Cure are a series of caves located on the commune of Arcy-sur-Cure, Burgundy, France. Some of them contained archaeological artefacts, from the Mousterian to Gallo-Roman times.
Some hold remarkable parietal art, the second oldest presently known after those of the Chauvet cave. Another notable characteristic of these caves is the time-long series of pollen, related to determined and consistent archaeological levels.Between 1947 and 1963, they were searched by the French prehistorians Arlette and André Leroi-Gourhan. Listed monument historique (Heritage Monument) in 1992, they are partially open to the public.Chauvet
Chauvet may refer to
Chauvet Cave, a pre-historic site with paleolithic cave art
Lac Chauvet, a lake located in France
C.H. Chauvet, a French aircraft constructorDominique Baffier
Dominique Baffier is a French archaeologist and prehistorian who specialises in paleolithic cave paintings, or parietal art. She is known for her work at the Arcy-sur-Cure cave complex and for her subsequent role as curator of the Chauvet Cave from 2000 to 2014.Gorges de l'Ardèche
The Gorges de l'Ardèche is made up of a series of gorges in the river and locally known as the "European Grand Canyon", Located in the Ardèche, in the French department Ardèche, forming a thirty-kilometre long canyon running from Vallon-Pont-d'Arc to Saint-Martin-d'Ardèche. The lower part of the gorge forms the boundary between the Ardèche department and the Gard department. The canyon is a tourist attraction, drawing over a million visitors per year, in addition to a rich historical and archeological site.
Most of the canyon is protected; it is governed by the Réserve Naturelle Gorges de l'Ardèche. Notable sights along the canyon include the Pont d'Arc at the beginning of the canyon, a natural arch 60 m wide and 54 m high. Much of the canyon is inaccessible except by water, and canoeing and kayaking are popular sports on the river. Overnight camping is not allowed, except for at two bivouac shelters.The cliffs offer habitat to rare birds such as the Bonelli's eagle. (As of 2013 there were only two pairs in the Ardèche, and no more than thirty in all of France.)
Humans have lived in caves in the area for over 300,000 years. Over 2,000 caves are found in the gorge, some of them painted; the best-known painted cave in the gorge is the Chauvet Cave.Horse slaughter
Horse slaughter is the practice of slaughtering horses to produce meat for consumption. Humans have long consumed horse meat; the oldest known cave art, the 30,000-year-old paintings in France's Chauvet Cave, depict horses with other wild animals hunted by humans. Equine domestication is believed to have begun to raise horses for human consumption. The practice has become controversial in some parts of the world due to several concerns: whether horses are (or can be) managed humanely in industrial slaughter; whether horses not raised for consumption yield safe meat, and whether it is appropriate to consume what some view as a companion animal.List of Stone Age art
This is a descriptive list of art from the Stone Age, the period of prehistory characterised by the widespread use of stone tools. This page contains, by sheer volume of the artwork discovered, a very incomplete list of the works of the painters, sculptors, and other artists who created what we now call prehistoric art. For fuller lists see Art of the Upper Paleolithic, Art of the Middle Paleolithic, and Category:Prehistoric art and its many sub-categories.Media (communication)
Media are the communication outlets or tools used to store and deliver information or data. The term refers to components of the mass media communications industry, such as print media, publishing, the news media, photography, cinema, broadcasting (radio and television), and advertising.The development of early writing and paper enabled longer-distance communication systems such as mail, including in the Persian Empire (Chapar Khaneh and Angarium) and Roman Empire, which can be interpreted as early forms of media. Writers such as Howard Rheingold have framed early forms of human communication as early forms of media, such as the Lascaux cave paintings and early writing. Another framing of the history of media starts with the Chauvet Cave paintings and continues with other ways to carry human communication beyond the short range of voice: smoke signals, trail markers, and sculpture.The term media in its modern application relating to communication channels was first used by Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan, who stated in Counterblast (1954): "The media are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. They can be entrusted only to new artists, because they are art forms." By the mid-1960s, the term had spread to general use in North America and the United Kingdom. The phrase "mass media" was, according to H.L. Mencken, used as early as 1923 in the United States.The term "medium" (the singular form of "media") is defined as "one of the means or channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society, as newspapers, radio, or television."Neuroarthistory
Neuroarthistory is a term coined by Professor John Onians, an art historian at the University of East Anglia in 2005. Neuroarthistory is an approach that concerns the neurological study of artists, both living and dead.In 2004 Onians taught the Postgraduate module "Art and the Brain" named after the 1999 paper by Professor Semir Zeki which was the first postgraduate course in an art history department that applied neuroscientific principles. In 2005, he began working with Zeki, who is a professor of Neurobiology at University College London (and founder of Neuroesthetics) to study what goes on in the brains of artists. They used neuroimaging and studied the neurobiological processes of artists such as the painters of the paleolithic Chauvet Cave art.In May 2005 Onians founded Neuroarthistory in a lecture at the Neuroaesthetics Conference Goldsmiths May 2005.
In 2006, he wrote and presented the paper 'Neuroarthistory: making more sense of art' which, according to The Art Book "explored the ways in which our ever-expanding knowledge of the brain invites art historians to reconsider the interaction between the senses and cognition."In September 2006, Onians presented the results of the research to the BA Festival of Science in a lecture called 'Cracking the real Da Vinci Code: what happens in the artist’s brain?'. The object of the study was to learn more about how artists think, and how these thought processes differ between artists of different eras and locations, as well as the differences between professional and amateur artists. Professor Onians has said that neuroarthistory can be used "both to better understand the nature of familiar artistic phenomena such as style, and to crack so far intractable problems such as ‘what is the origin of art?’" According to a press release, neuroarthistory can explain why "Florentine painters made more use of line and Venetian painters more of colour. The reason is that 'neural plasticity' ensured that passive exposure to different natural and man-made environments caused the formation of different visual preferences."A book, Neuroarthistory: From Aristotle and Pliny to Baxandall and Zeki was published in 2008 by Yale University Press, discussing a number of case studies from art history, and being the 'preface' to a further two books on the subject.Panthera pardus spelaea
Panthera pardus spelaea, sometimes called the European Ice Age leopard or Late Pleistocene Ice Age leopard, is a fossil leopard subspecies, which roamed Europe in the Late Pleistocene. The youngest known bone fragments date to about 32,000 to 26,000 years ago, and are similar in size to modern leopard bones.Panthera spelaea
Panthera spelaea, also known as the Eurasian cave lion, European cave lion, or steppe lion, is an extinct Panthera species that evolved in Europe probably after the third Cromerian interglacial stage, less than 600,000 years ago. Phylogenetic analysis of fossil bone samples revealed that it was highly distinct and genetically isolated from the modern lion (Panthera leo) occurring in Africa and Asia. Analysis of morphological differences and mitochondrial data support the taxonomic recognition of Panthera spelaea as a distinct species that diverged from the lion about 1.9 million years ago.
The oldest known bone fragments were excavated in Yakutia and radiocarbon dated at least 62,400 years old. It became extinct about 13,000 years ago.Parietal art
Parietal art is the archaeological term for artwork done on cave walls or large blocks of stone. One of the most famous examples of parietal art is the Grotte Chauvet in France. Also called "cave art", it refers to cave paintings, drawings, etchings, carvings, and pecked artwork on the interior of rock shelters and caves. The purpose of these remains of the Paleolithic and other periods of prehistoric art is not known. However, some theories suggest that these paintings were not solely for decoration as many of them were located in parts of caves that were not easily accessed.Vallon-Pont-d'Arc
Vallon-Pont-d'Arc (occitan: Valon) is a commune in the Ardèche department, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Southern France.
Vallon-Pont-d'Arc is a capital of prehistoric and cultural tourism. This small village, peaceful in wintertime, sees its population expand ten-fold in summer. Its tourist importance largely comes from the fact that it is the departure point for the river descent of the Gorges de l'Ardèche (from Pont d'Arc to Saint-Martin-d'Ardeche).
Prehistoric cave sites, rock shelters and cave paintings