The Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave

An Extraordinary Archaeological Find:
A Decorated Paleolithic Cave
in the Ardèche Region of France

Animals in the Chauvet Cave

Panel of the lions, central part On the upper left side, buffalo with a divided line on the back and numerous feet. There is a mammoth below : this young animal has already got a complete ungulation system which explains the reason for the bowl-shaped representation of the paws. There is a vertical dihedron just in the back which is the support of a front-view procession of eight young buffalos with a clear representation of their downy frontal quiff. On the right side, several bears and rhinoceros followed by a frieze of eight lions running on the left side, organised into three successive plans. Below the panel, a rhinoceros is cut off from the rest. (L. : about 4, 50 m.)

On 17 January 1995, the Minister of Culture and Francophony, Jacques Toubon, announced the exceptional archaeological discovery of a decorated cave.

It incorporates several very large galleries that accommodate more than 400 paintings and engravings dating to the Paleolithic era (between 32,000 and 30,000 years ago). These works depict a unique and diverse menagerie among which rhinoceroses, felines, bears, owls, and mammoths. The discovery was made in December of 1994 at Vallon-Pont-d’Arc in the Ardèche region of France.

Floor brazier

The cavern has also preserved numerous traces of human activity, among them hearths, flintstones, and footprints. The cave is completely undamaged and untroubled by previous visitations, which makes it an outstanding research object for archaeologists. The discovery was made by Mr. Jean-Marie Chauvet, Mrs. Eliette Brunel-Deschamps and Mr. Christian Hillaire who had been doing speleological surveys in the area for numerous years.

In view of the national and international artistic and archaeological attention that was generated by this find, it was classified a historical monument.

The study – progress of the scientific research

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