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• Discovery and Preservation • Carbon-Dating: How Old are the Cave Paintings at Chauvet?

Chauvet (1996) has a detailed account of the discovery.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.It extends horizontally for nearly 500 meters (~1,650 feet) into the earth, and consists of two main rooms separated by a narrow hallway.Over 420 paintings have been documented in the cave, including numerous realistic animals (reindeer, horses, aurochs, rhinoceros, bison, lions, cave bears among others), human hand prints, and abstract dot paintings.It is located near the commune of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc on a limestone cliff above the former bed of the Ardèche River, in the Gorges de l'Ardèche.Discovered on December 18, 1994, it is considered one of the most significant prehistoric art sites and the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO granted it the World Heritage status on June 22, 2014.Of particular interest was the leopard spotting variety, resembling some horses today that exhibit this coat pattern and thought by some scientists to be a that did not exist during the late Pleistocene times when the cave paintings were created.Said team researcher Professor Michi Hofreiter of the Department of Biology at the University of York: "Our results suggest that, at least for wild horses, Paleolithic cave paintings, including the remarkable depictions of spotted horses, were closely rooted in the real-life appearance of animals....In one famous panel (a little bit is shown above) an entire pride of lions is illustrated, and the feeling of movement and power of the animals is tangible even in photographs of the cave taken in poor light and at low resolution. Archaeological material in Chauvet cave's deposits include thousands of animal bones, including the bones of at least 190 cave bears ( The remains of hearths, an ivory spearhead and a human footprint have all been identified within the cave's deposits.Chauvet Cave was discovered in 1994 by Jean-Marie Chauvet; the relatively recent discovery of this remarkably intact cave painting site has allowed researchers to closely control the excavations using modern methods.