Age of Chauvet cave art

A couple of years ago I reviewed Werner Herzog’s documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a fascinating tour of the prehistoric art in Chauvet cave in southern France. The art, which was discovered in 1994, was notable not only for its beauty and variety, but also because it was thought to be the earliest cave art found to date. The oldest paintings were estimated to be as much as 36,000 years old; this placed them in the Aurignacian culture, which produced the earliest known human art.)

However, new research has examined the paintings in the context of other early art, and the results suggest that the bulk of the paintings may be no more than around 18,000 to 26,000 years old, which would put them in more recent periods.

Regardless of the age of the paintings, they are well worth exploring, either by watching Herzog’s film or visiting the French government’s Chauvet cave web site.