The discovery of Chauvet cave, at Vallon-Pont-d’Arc (Ardèche), in 1994, was an important event for our knowledge of palaeolithic parietal art as a whole. Its painted and engraved figures, thanks to their number (425 graphic units), and their excellent state of preservation, provide a documentary thesaurus comparable to that of the greatest sites known, and far beyond what had already been found in the group of Rhône valley caves (Ardèche and Gard). But its study – when one places it in its natural regional, cultural and thematic framework – makes it impossible to see it as an isolated entity of astonishing precocity. This needs to be reconsidered, and the affinities that our research has brought to light are clearly incompatible with the very early age which has been attributed to it. And if one extends this examination to the whole of the Franco-Cantabrian domain, the conclusion is inescapable: although Chauvet cave displays some unique characteristics (like every decorated cave), it belongs to an evolved phase of parietal art that is far removed from the motifs of its origins (known from art on blocks and on shelter walls dated by stratigraphy to the Aurignacian, in France and Cantabrian Spain). The majority of its works are therefore to be placed, quite normally, within the framework of the well-defined artistic creations of the Gravettian and Solutrean. Moreover, this phase of the Middle Upper Palaeolithic (26,000–18,000) coincides with a particularly intensive and diversified local human occupation, unknown in earlier periods and far less dense afterwards in the Magdalenian. A detailed critique of the treatment of the samples subjected to AMS radiocarbon dating makes it impossible to retain the very early age (36,000 cal BP) attributed by some authors to the painted and engraved figures of Chauvet cave.
Category Archives: Solutrean
|Illustration by Arturo Asensio
Decorating Altamira Cave
|Lamps found in France with chronology and type of site (Beaune & White 1993)|
|Lamps found in Iberia (by David Sánchez)|
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Special thanks to Stone Pages’ Archaeo News section.
Video documentary on this fascinating affluent of the Douro river and its many Prehistoric engravings, of Middle and Late Upper Paleolithic age. It is in Portuguese mostly (with some fragments in French or English), however it is very worth watching even if you do not understand the language because of the engravings themselves and the beautiful context they are found at. Each part spans some 15 mins:
Found via Pileta de Prehistoria.
Pressure flaking has been considered to be an Upper Paleolithic innovation dating to ~20,000 years ago (20 ka). Replication experiments show that pressure flaking best explains the morphology of lithic artifacts recovered from the ~75-ka Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa. The technique was used during the final shaping of Still Bay bifacial points made on heat-treated silcrete. Application of this innovative technique allowed for a high degree of control during the detachment of individual flakes, resulting in thinner, narrower, and sharper tips on bifacial points. This technology may have been first invented and used sporadically in Africa before its later widespread adoption.
Source: Science Daily.
Solutrean points (or casts):
< From Don’s Maps:
Photo: Man before history by John Waechter
< From Lithic Casting Lab:
< From Wikipedia.
A more complete toolkit from Solutré-Pouilly.
Another culture that used the same technique later on was Clovis culture in Holocene North America.
|Fig. 5 (2nd part). Population estimates for LGM (top) and Late UP (bottom)|