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Chauvet is one of the few prehistoric painted caves to be found preserved and intact, right down to the footprints of animals and humans.As a result it ranks alongside Lascaux (c.17,000 BCE), Altamira (c.15,000 BCE), Pech-Merle (c.25,000 BCE) and Cosquer (c.25,000 BCE) as one of the most significant sites of Stone Age painting.
Chauvet also sheds an interesting light on the artistic inventiveness of Aurignacian art (c.40,000-26,000 BCE).
Ever since the 1930s, researchers have known that between 35,000 and 30,000 years ago the Aurignacians living in the Swabian Jura of southwestern Germany carved beautiful ivory statuettes - such as the peculiar Lion Man of Hohlenstein Stadel (c.38,000 BCE) - with both naturalistic and stylized characteristics.
Archeology and Human Habitation The Cave Paintings Animal Figures Abstract Art Painterly Skills and Techniques The Layout of the Chauvet Cave - The Brunel Chamber - The Chamber of the Bear Hollows - The Cactus Gallery - The Gallery of Hands - The Hillaire Chamber - Panel of the Fighting Rhinoceroses and Horses - Panel of the Horses - The Chamber of the Skull - The Gallery of Crosshatches - The End Chamber - Panel of Bison - Panel of Rhinoceroses - Panel of Felines - The Hanging Rock of the Sorcerer - The Sacristy The Purpose of Chauvet Related Articles The Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc cave - among the world's oldest sites of prehistoric cave painting, along with the El Castillo Cave Paintings (39,000 BCE), the Sulawesi Cave Art (37,900 BCE) and the abstract signs found at Altamira (c.34,000 BCE) - was discovered quite by chance in the Ardeche gorge in 1994, by three speleologists - Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel-Deschamps and Christian Hillaire - while they were surveying another cave nearby.
Inside the Chauvet grotto, they found a 400-metre long network of galleries and rooms, covered in rock art and petroglyphs, whose floor was littered with a variety of paleontological remains, including the skulls of bears and two wolves.
(For more details, see: Ivory Carvings of the Swabian Jura.) The unusually sophisticated cave art at Chauvet, a site contemporary with the Swabian ivories, demonstrates that the Aurignacians were equally talented at painting and engraving than they were at prehistoric sculpture.