French cave paintings older than expected

This is a video on the Chauvet cave and its rock art.

Translated from Dutch news agency ANP:

“New insights into image of prehistoric humans”

Published: May 10, 2011 3:42 p.m.
Last updated: May 10, 2011 3:54 p.m.

GRONINGEN – The rock paintings of cave bears in a cavern near Vallon-Pont d’Arc

Chauvet cave

in the French Ardèche are about 30,000 years old. Making them the oldest known cave paintings. This has been confirmed by new research on which Groningen physicist Professor Hans van der Plicht cooperated.

This finding has major implications for our understanding of the people who lived at that time.

”We know that people then lived in caves. They were hunters and gatherers. We know they already buried their dead.

That they could make such beautiful art could is at variance with the image we have of the people”, Van der Plicht says.


Scientists have been bickering for years over the dating of these cave paintings. Carbon dating of charcoal with which the drawings had been made had shown previously that the images should be about 30,000 to 32,000 years old. According to specialists in the field of cave art that is impossible.

The sophisticated style of drawing would indicate that the drawings were of a much more recent date. To say that these pictures are 30,000 years old, according to experts, would be like saying that a Renaissance painting has been found in a Roman villa.


In the new study, the bones of cave bears in this cave have been investigated. It showed that they should be 29,000 to 37,000 years old.

According to Professor Van der Plicht, the time is near when the ”hard scientific method for dating archaeological finds will require a shift in the thinking of archaeologists”.

The new findings will be published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

While the recent resurgence in use of 3D in films has, in most cases, simply been employed to ramp up the special-effects-driven adrenalin rush in mindless action movies, the value of being able to see things in three dimensions is made overwhelmingly obvious in Cave of Forgotten Dreams, written and directed by veteran German filmmaker Werner Herzog. This documentary affords viewers the ability to experience the interior of Chauvet Cave in southern France, which contains the oldest known cave art anywhere in the world, almost as though they were there in person: here.

Prehistoric Cave Art Discovered in Basque Country: here.

Cave paintings in Malaga, Spain, could be the oldest yet found – and the first to have been created by Neanderthals: here.

Neanderthals came in all colors: here.

6 thoughts on “French cave paintings older than expected

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