Clan of the (French) Cave Bear?

Found these very interesting to look at – didn’t have time to write it up so I’m C&P-ing from WikiPedia for now:

The cave is situated above the previous course of the Ardèche River before the Pont d’Arc opened up. The gorges of the Ardèche region are the site of numerous caves, many of them having some geological or archaeological importance. The Chauvet Cave is uncharacteristically large and the quality, quantity, and condition of the artwork found on its walls have been called spectacular. Based on radiocarbon dating, the cave appears to have been used by humans during two distinct periods: the Aurignacian and the Gravettian.[2] Most of the artwork dates to the earlier, Aurignacian, era (30,000 to 32,000 years ago).

The later Gravettian occupation, which occurred 25,000 to 27,000 years ago, left little but a child’s footprints, the charred remains of ancient hearths and carbon smoke stains from torches that lit the caves. After the child’s visit to the cave, evidence suggests that the cave had been untouched, due to a landslide which covered its historical entrance, until discovered in 1994.[3] The footprints may be the oldest human footprints that can be dated accurately.

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.[4]

Paintings

Paintings in the Chauvet Cave

Image of Steppe Wisent (Bison priscus). Paintings in the Chauvet Cave on Post stamp of Romania 2001

Hundreds of animal paintings have been catalogued, depicting at least 13 different species, including some rarely or never found in other ice age paintings. Rather than depicting only the familiar animals of the hunt that predominate in Paleolithic cave art, i.e. horses, cattle, reindeer, etc., the walls of the Chauvet Cave include many predatory animals: Cave lions, panthers, bears, owls, and Cave Hyenas. Also pictured are rhinos.

Typical of most cave art, there are no paintings of complete human figures, although there is one possible partial “Venus” figure that may represent the legs and genitals of a woman. Also a chimerical figure may be present; it appears to have the lower body of a woman with the upper body of a bison. There are a few panels of red ochre hand prints and hand stencils made by spitting pigment over hands pressed against the cave surface. Abstract markings—lines and dots—are found throughout the cave. There are also two unidentifiable images that have a vaguely butterfly shape to them. This combination of subjects has led experts in prehistoric art and cultures to believe that there was likely a ritual, shamanic, or magical aspect to these paintings.

The artists who produced these unique paintings used techniques not often seen in other cave art. Many of the paintings appear to have been made only after the walls were scraped clear of debris and concretions. This left a smoother and noticeably lighter area upon which the artists worked. Similarly, a three dimensional quality is achieved by incising or etching about the outlines of certain figures. This visually emphasizes some of the animals and allows torch light to cast shadows about the edges.

Image

Chauvet Lions

Image Chauvet Cave

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