The Cave Art Paintings of the Chauvet Cave

RETURN TO THE CHAUVET CAVE BY JOHN ROBINSON

Page 5/8


10,000 adults
 
Ambrose, and many other scientists such as Christopher Stringer, believe that that this six year long winter could possibly have reduced the world’s population of Homo Sapiens to 10,000 adults.
 
Out of Africa
 
Ambrose states that everyone outside of Africa today derives from populations that experienced the bottleneck in Africa caused by the eruption of Toba’s super volcano. All the small founder populations have genetic affinities with eastern Africans.
 
Three Bottlenecks
 
The genetics evidence from mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA indicates that there were three bottlenecks in the Evolution of Homo Sapiens. The first migration across the dry southern end of what is now the Red Sea, happened around 70,000 years ago, in other words, after the Toba Instant Ice Age.
 
Where in Africa?
 
African genetic lineages coalesce to a common ancestor around 130,000 years ago. It is likely that there were several isolated populations: Congo, coastal East and West, South African Coast, Ethiopia, Nile Valley and possibly NW Africa.
 
Chauvet a sanctuary
 
I started to wonder about the subject matter of the art rather than the actual drawings. The altar, sorcerer, female pubic triangles, and drawings all point towards the cave being a sanctuary and a place of worship for the Bear Clan. This was obviously a place of ceremony that concentrated on the breeding of children and the hunting of meat.
 
Predators and the Prey
 
The drawings can be split into two sorts of animals, Predators and Prey. The Bear, Lion, Cheetah and Man were all meat eaters, where as the Horses, Auroch, Bison, Rhinoceros and Reindeer ate grass. I wondered if this didn’t show that already man was having an effect on the balance of nature, which had existed for millions of years?
 
A diet of pure protein
 
The herds of seasonal migrating herbivores supplied the Bear Clan with protein. Was the Bear Clan trying to kill, or at least scare off, their competitors who were attacking their meat supply? The climate was getting colder, and the colder the environment that man lives in the more protein he needs to eat for warmth. Laplanders and Eskimos survive on a diet of pure protein. The Clan would have harvested berries, nuts and mushrooms but there were no tropical tubas to gather, so meat must have been on the menu most meals.
 
Animal management
 
Could this be the meaning behind the drawings? Was the cave a place of magic where the Clan sort help from the Spirit World in their battle against the predators that hunted the animals that were their source of meat? Could the art show that Man had begun a kind of animal management 35,000 years ago? If Chauvet Man’s mind is identical to ours, then it would seem to me that such an action would have been the product of a perfectly normal way of thinking and exactly how we would react today.
 
Domesticated animal
 
From Stephen Budiansky’s wonderful book The Nature of Horses, I have learnt some fascinating facts about these curious and playful creatures that enchant us. Of the 4000 species of Mammals that have occupied the earth during the last 10,000 years, the Horse is one of the few that have achieved widespread success as a domesticated animal. The evidence indicates that they have evolved around human settlements mainly because their behaviour is compatible with that of ours.
 
Ukraine and Central Asia
 
Horses rapidly disappeared in Europe as the climate changed at the end of the last Ice Age when forests replaced grasslands. Herds fled east leaving France and Spain for the grasslands of Ukraine & Central Asia.
 
Domesticated for labour & meat
 
Budiansky states that it really does look as though what saved the Horse from extinction was domestication on the grasslands of Ukraine. Discoveries there indicate that the Horse was bred for labour and meat about 6000 years ago. Remains of camp rubbish indicate that 50% of the meat being eaten was Horse, as the supplies of Auroch, Boar and Deer became scarcer.
 
Bit wear
 
Out of all the Horse teeth that have been recovered from the last 25,000 years, the first ones to show bit wear were found in the Ukraine. These teeth have been dated as being 6000 year old and belonged to a 14.2 hand stallion.
 
Being driven away?
 
Horses must have realised they had the speed to escape us, so perhaps they also knew that it was safe to actually seek our company because they saw that predators avoided us. Maybe the reason that the Lions in Chauvet are generally facing out from the Sorcerer is because they are being driven away. It seems to me that in carefully selected panels the Sorcerer is surrounded by individual drawings of Bison and a Horse.
 
A fly on the wall
 
Outside the cave I ate a French picnic of bread and cheese, washed down with red wine, in the shade of the scrub oaks, looking out over the valley, and wondered if members of the Bear Clan had also sat here while having their lunch. Oh how I wished I could have been a fly on the walls of Chauvet 35,000 years ago!
 
Film crew
 
On my last visit I had met and been interviewed by a film crew who were recording our reactions as we came out of the cave doorway. They had been doing this for two years but had not yet been allowed into the cave. I could not imagine anything more frustrating. On the second day of my visit they were to be allowed in for the first time and would see with their own eyes all the wonders we had been raving about. I watched the film producer Pierre Oscar Levy and his crew suit up and crawl off down the rabbit hole. I could imagine how excited they were.
 
Hunters’ carrying their burning flares
 
While Jean showed them around the cave I was able to drift away from the group and be by myself. Looking back I could see the men faintly illuminated by their helmet lights amongst the beautiful stalagmite and stalactites. They looked like the Bear Clan hunters carrying their burning flares.
 
Reaction
 
We left the cave Pierre interviewed me again. When we had finished I asked him for his own reactions. What had he felt as he stood in front of the Horse Panel? He answered, “I cried”. I completely understood his reaction. To see the Chauvet Paintings with ones own eyes must be the greatest privilege ever to be bestowed.
 
Chauvet Cave Index
 
bradshaw foundation donate help
Mailing List

Email Sign-Up
website updates

Email

First Name

Last Name

Country

Prints
Podcast
bradshaw foundation podcast
DVD
bradshaw foundation ishop dvd
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Join the free Mailing List Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Coso Range Nevada Oregon Territory Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Ian Wilson Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Portable Art Research Paper Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Tanum Rock Art Museum Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes List of Research Papers Other Websites Contact the Foundation