Antiquities and Archaeology
Prehistoric painted caves added to Unesco’s World Heritage List
The Chauvet Pont-d’Arc site in southern France is twice as old as the Lascaux complex
By Hannah McGivern. Web only
Published online: 24 June 2014
The world’s oldest decorated cave has entered Unesco’s World Heritage List. The 36,000 year-old cave of Chauvet Pont-d'Arc, in the Ardèche region of southern France, was one of six new sites added to the organisation’s preservation list during the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee in Doha, Qatar, which began on 15 June and ends tomorrow.
The cave of Chauvet Pont-d’Arc had been sealed by a rock fall until it was discovered in 1994, ensuring its state of remarkable preservation. It is twice as old as the Lascaux cave complex in the Dordogne, which was previously considered the earliest example of prehistoric rock art.
Of the more than 1,000 drawings lining the walls of Chauvet Pont-d’Arc, 425 depict animals, including species that are unique in Palaeolithic cave art, such as the panther and the owl.
The cave has never been open to the public for conservation reasons. Instead, the Cavern of Pont-d’Arc, a €50m replica that has been under construction nearby since October 2012, is set to admit visitors from April 2015. At 3,500 square metres, the replica covers less than half the area of the original but the drawings will be reproduced to 1:1 scale.
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