Chauvet Cave http://www.experienceardeche.


This magnificent discovery was made in December 1994 and remains one of the most important prehistoric sites to date. It was found accidentally by three local cavers - Christian Hillaire, Eliette Brunel-Deschamps and JeanMarie Chauvet after whom the cave was named contains the world’s oldest rock art ever found located near Vallon-Pont-d'Arc in the Ardèche region of southern France, The Chauvet cave is situated next to the famous Pont d'Arc , above the old river bed upon which the Ardèche flowed before the archway opened up and changed its course. It contains a vast array and unique collection of cave paintings dated up to 32,000 years old which makes them the oldest cave paintings in the world. carbon 14 dating analyses showed that one buffalo and two rhinoceros were approximately 31,000 years old. The datings "have revolutionised hitherto accepted concepts on the appearance of art and its development, and prove that homo sapiens learnt to draw at a very early stage". Hundreds of animal paintings have been recorded, depicting at least 13 different species, including those which have rarely or never been found in other Ice age paintings. Rather than the more usual animals of the hunt that predominate in Paleolithic cave art, such as horses, cattle and reindeer, the walls of the Chauvet Cave are covered with predatory animals - lions, panthers, bears, owls, rhinos and hyenas. As one would expect, there are no human figures, except at the very end of the gallery where there appears to be a Venus figure - the legs and genitals of a woman – attracting the attention of the figure now known as the ‘Sorcerer’ - the lower body of a man with the upper body of a bison. The scene would suggest a ritual, shamanic or magical aspect to these paintings. Animals: lions, panthers, bears, owls, rhinos, hyenas, ibex, mammoth, giant stags, horses. What makes these paintings even more extraordinary is the expressive techniques that are used, such as the use of perspective in the 'panel of horses' which shows several animals on the same plane, or with the impression of movement shown by the duplication of the bison's horn and

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Cool and damp. see the representations as evidence of magical rites intended to ensure success in hunting or fertility. a shaman in a hallucinatory trance would create rock art to depict spirit beings. was lucky enough to be allowed within the original cave. The large. I studied the lines of black edges. Still others assert that the Ice Age artists’ accurate representations of animals’ coats were an attempt to mark the seasons. — Sue Banerjee • • • . one of which was found placed carefully upon a high slab as if on an alter. a British sculpture and coordinator of the Bradshaw Foundation. Some rock-art experts contend that the drawings and engravings relate directly to shamanism.000 years old. • John Robinson.000 years ago. This has resulted in the reconsideration of how and when art developed. Careful preservation makes analysis possible.hooves. The cave was also strewn with cave bear skulls.3 degrees Celsius). He said about the panel of horses that "The panel is without doubt one of the great masterpieces of Homo sapiens Art. Some scholars insist that the decorations of the caves stem purely from artistic desires—they should be seen as art for art’s sake. and the use of smudging to produce shadow. but they were done 3. Chauvet Cave's steady interior climate—56 degrees Fahrenheit (13. But other scholars. complex Panel of Horses in Hillaire Chamber receives attention from researchers. besides being the oldest." Charcoal used in pictures of horses at Chauvet were analysed with Carbon isotopes and the result "shows that they are 30. with 99 percent humidity year-round—contributes to the French cave's remarkable state of preservation. in light of the choice of subjects. The incising immediately brought to mind the wonders of Egypt. Then I saw that the artist had highlighted the outer edge of the drawing by chiseling into the white rock surface. a discovery that should prompt a re-think about the development of art".

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