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  • Palaeolithic : Cave Paintings


    is one of the latest and most brilliant sensations, not only in archaeology, but in human culture in general. It is located in the steep side of a cliff in the gorges of the Ardeche, a tributary of the Rhone river. One of the famous in France natural sights, Pont d'Arc, is situated not far from the cave. Pont d'Arc is a huge arc, cut through a rock by the waters of the Ardeche, which forms a gigantic single-span bridge, 60 ms high.

    The cave was discovered on the 18th of December 1994 by three speleologists - Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel Deschamps and Christian Hillaire. They had already been experienced in exploration caves; several of them had the traces of a pre-historic man's stay. They had seen the half-covered entrance into an unnamed cave before but it seemed to be of a secondary interest and was not explored. That day when Eliette wriggled into the narrow duck, she saw a big cave about 10 metres below her - the speleologists were certainly above a big gallery! They understood that they must return to the van for the necessary equipment. It was already evening and they even thought of putting the exploration off but still they took a ladder, came back into the cave and climbed down into a wide passage. They moved some dozens metres in the gallery and saw traces of red ochre and a depiction of a mammoth and other beasts - a new monument of palaeolithic paintings was before them!

    A complete study of the cave will take several decades. There is a succession of four big "vestibules" with about or more than 300 paintings. They are in a remarkable state of preservation. At present the paintings are the oldest known on the Earth (about 32 millenia). Even the first investigations shook the established notions concerning the art of the Upper Palaeolithic period and pushed its beginning almost 5 millenia to the back. Chauvet cave is described in many scientific articles, not mentioning sensational materials in mass media, a large artistic album is published and translated into the main european languages.

    Materials concerning the Chauvet cave are given in Internet:

    Researches of the cave art in France
    Cave art
    Chauvet cave (France)

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