Chauvet cave dating controversy




What a tantalising farce, to promise cave art and deliver only a simulation.

The implication of cave art replicas is that such art is so simple and basic that a pastiche will satisfy. No one accepts a substitute for Rembrandt because his touch is considered unique, his genius singular. But cave art is no less marvellous or magical.

The paintings of ice age Europe include masterpieces that equal the greatest in history. At the very least, ice age paintings deserve to be seen as unique, inspired works of art. When it comes to Chauvet, it is better to look at photographs and films than fall for a fake. Get the full report on the cave , lavishly illustrated, that gives a very close encounter: I recommend Pech-Merle and Cougnac in the Cahors region.

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These mesmerising caves are open to the public and contain art almost as old as the paintings of Chauvet — and similarly special. Jean Clottes, scientific advisor to the Ministry of Culture and specialist in prehistoric cave paintings, was quickly called to authenticate the discovery. He immediately recognized that the cave and its paintings were not only genuine but almost perfectly preserved due to the rock slide that had sealed the entrance thousands of years ago.

Clottes emerged from the cave after six hours, stunned by his experience viewing what he called "one of the great discoveries of the 20th century. Experience with other caves containing prehistoric artworks has taught that the caves must be kept closed to the public in order to protect the paintings. Scientific investigation of the cave was carried out under careful conditions to preserve the cave and its contents. A museum has been constructed at Vallon Pont d'Arc that provides visitors with an experience of the prehistoric environment, flora and fauna, and lifestyle of the painters as well as reproductions and movies about the paintings and other findings in the cave.

Don’t fall for a fake: the Chauvet cave art replica is nonsense

There are numerous chambers and galleries. 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. Based on radiocarbon dating, the cave appears to have been occupied by humans during two distinct Paleolithic periods: The later occupation also left 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 the cave was untouched until discovered in The walls of the Chauvet cave contain hundreds of animal paintings and engravings.

The Art Of The Chauvet Cave

Among those which have been cataloged are at least 13 different species , including those which have rarely or never been found in other ice age paintings. A large number of the paintings depict predators, such as lions , cave bears , panthers, rhinoceroses , owls , hyenas , and mammoths. In fact, such paintings outnumber the more typical horses , deer , and bison found in other caves, animals known to have been hunted. There are no complete human paintings, although two paintings portray partial figures.

There are, however, numerous hand prints and hand stencils. In one chamber near the current entrance, called the Brunel Chamber, there are two collections of painted red dots. It has been ascertained that these are actually hand prints produced by applying pigment to the palm of the hand and pressing it against the wall.

Two different sizes of hands have been measured; the larger one probably a man around 1. There are also two unidentifiable images that have a vaguely butterfly shape to them. Typical of most cave art, there are no paintings of complete human figures. By , 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: A research article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in May 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, and 32, years ago.

Their analysis showed that the entrance was sealed by a collapsing cliff some 29, 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. A study in the same journal examining radiocarbon dates, some unpublished before, concluded that there were two phases of human occupation, one running from 37, to 33, years ago and the second from 31, to 28, 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.


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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 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.

Chauvet cave: The most accurate timeline yet of who used the cave and when - Los Angeles Times

In the archaeologist and expert on cave paintings Dominique Baffier was appointed to oversee conservation and management of the cave. She was followed in 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 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.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved 20 August Probing the Mysteries of the World's First Artists. A Dog's History of the World.

Art Across Time 4th ed. What does the world's oldest art say about us?

The New Yorker Magazine. See also Chauvet , p. Bahn's foreword and Clottes' epilogue to Chauvet discuss dating. Clottes b , pp. Comments on the archaeological arguments for an early Upper Paleolithic antiquity of the Grotte Chauvet art". Journal of Human Evolution , Aug 2.

Are claims for the 'birthplace of art' premature? Studies in Honor of Alexander Marshack ed. Bahn , Oxford , pp.

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