The Pont-d'Arc Decorated Cave (Chauvet Cave) granted World Heritage status by UNESCO

Published on June 24, 2014
  • Le panneau des chevaux

    Le panneau des chevaux

    © Jean Clottes / Centre national de la préhistoire

  • Lions

    Lions

    © DRAC Rhône-Alpes - Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication

  • Drawing of a hand on ochre

    Drawing of a hand on ochre

    © DRAC Rhône-Alpes - Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication

  • Fresco

    Fresco

    © Jean Clottes / Centre national de la préhistoire

The Pont-d'Arc Decorated Cave (Chauvet Cave) granted World Heritage status by UNESCO 6 Cours du Palais 07000 Privas fr

The "Chauvet Cave" in southern France, decorated with the oldest paintings known to man, was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 22nd June 2014.

The Pont d'Arc Decorated Cave

This unique, huge cave is exceptionally well-preserved, located 25 metres underground on a limestone plateau in Ardèche, in the south of the Rhône-Alpes region.

The cave was closed off for 23 000 years after a rockslide and rediscovered on 18th December 1994 by three cave experts - Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel and Christian Hillaire. There are more than a thousand drawings on the cave walls - "a remarkable artistic expression of early man" and the "oldest pictorial representations known to date," say UNESCO.

The drawings show a variety of animals such as: the bear, woolly rhinoceros, lion, lioness, panther, bison... There are also representations of hands and women. At the back of the cave, there is an exceptional drawing of the lower portion of a female body next to a bison.

Artistic quality

The UNESCO Committee notes the "artistic quality" of these paintings: the "controlled use of colours, the combinations of painting and engraving, the precise anatomical representations and the artists' ability to represent sound and movement."

Exceptionally conserved

Exceptionally well-maintained and larger than the French cave of Lascaux (whose works date back 17 000 or 18 000 years), the cave has several distinct areas 800 meters long and up to 18 meters high. Strict conservation policies, including restricted access has kept the cave perfectly conserved - almost identical how it was found when discovered.

Cave du Pont d'Arc

This cave is located near a famous natural bridge, considered the gateway to the Gorges de l'Ardèche: the Pont d'Arc.

A few kilometres away from the original cave, there will be a replica called the "Caverne du Pont-d'Arc" (Pont d'Arc Cave), where visitors can come to admire the artistic works of the original.

For this extraordinary project, painters, sculptors, architect agencies and designers have joined forces to reconstruct 3 500 square meters of the original cave. This reconstruction will open to the public in Spring 2015.

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