1. Introduction – Chauvet Vallon-pont d’Arc

Prehistoric Europe has given us an inside look at the people of ancient France. Caves full of paintings are still being discovered.

 

There are many caves in this particular part of France. This one was discovered in 1994. Keep in mind that the cave at Lascaux was discovered in 1940 and dated at about 17,000 BC. At this point, we know that the caves have been sealed by forces of nature for thousands of years. We have learned that these amazing paintings begin to disintegrate when visited by thousands of viewers. People, simply by the process of breathing, change the chemistry in the air. That change appears to cause the growth of mold which eats away at the paintings. This makes us even more dependent on the photographers who post their images on the internet. The amazing beauty of these drawings made 30,000 or so years ago would not be available to teachers without the work of taking, naming, sorting and uploading them, all of which has been done for us by highly skilled photographers. As we take a walk through this cave it is easy to wonder when the next cave will be found.

There are many caves in this particular part of France. This cave was discovered in 1994. Keep in mind that the cave at Lascaux was discovered in 1940 and dated at about 17,000 BC. At this point, we know that the caves that have been sealed by forces of nature for thousands of years. We have learned that these amazing paintings begin to disintegrate when visited by thousands of visitors. People, simply by the process of breathing, change the chemistry in the air. That change appears to cause the growth of mold which eats away at the paintings. This makes us even more dependent on the photographers who post their images on the internet. The amazing beauty of these drawings made 30,000 or so years ago would not be available to teachers without the work of taking, naming, sorting and uploading them. As we take a walk through this cave it is hard not to wonder when the next cave will be found.

As we begin the process of thinking about the animals seen in this cave, it causes me to wonder where the animals depicted here lived. Where did the artists see them? In Lascaux this was not a problem because archeologists have found evidence of horses, cows and deer in the same area at the same time. Chauvet has some new animals for us to admire. Another difference between the caves of Lascaux and Chauvet that comes up for debate is that the Lascaux images are presented in a calm, everyday way. They are not going anywhere specific, and not engaged in any particularly exciting activities. The mood of the cave’s creatures is peaceful. Not so in the cave at Chauvet. These walls are filled with action and drama.

I would like everybody to do something after they have completed a unit. To help this happen I have added  a site gives you the tools to paint and draw. I hope you take the time to use this and if you do so you are more likely to remember what you just learned.

 

Katherine Bolman