French Cave Paintings
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French Cave Paintings

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"20,000 Year Old Cave Paintings"
Author(s) Unknown, Contributed by Monsieur Jean Clottes
1 st XHTML Edition by Pietro Di Miceli < >, November 2000
Foreword by the Editor
This is a XHTML version of "French Cave Paintings", originally published by Project Gutenberg on April 1995 as e-text #249 and consisting of a set of documents available under the Generic Name of "". These documents have been embedded together in this stricty valid (as of the time it was prepared) XHTML 1.0 document, thanks to which they can be viewed as a single multimedia document using any Web browser capable to render standard, well-formed HTML or XHTML files. Complete, up-to-date, information about the Library Catalog Record referring to this work, and its past and possible future editions, can be found starting from the Project Gutenberg Web site, Rome, November 2000.
CONTENTS Project Gutenberg Standard Header Document: Cavep.eng Document: List of Pictures (JPEG) JPEG Pictures CHEVO11.JPG MAMOT11.JPG GVPDA11.JPG HYENE11.JPG
List of Pictures (GIF) GIF Pictures CHEVO11.GIF MAMOT11.GIF GVPDA11.GIF HYENE11.GIF
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The Project Gutenberg Edition of 20,000 Year Old Cave Paintings The Project Gutenberg Etext Photographs of 20,000 Year Old Cave Paintings by Monsieur Jean Clottes Copyright (C) 1995 by Monsieur Jean Clottes **This is a COPYRIGHTED Project Gutenberg Etext, Details Below** Please take a look at the important information in this header. We encourage you to keep this file on your own disk, keeping an electronic path open for the next readers. Please do not remove this. This should be the first thing seen when anyone opens the book. Do not change or edit it without written permission. The words are carefully chosen to provide users with the information they need about what they can legally do with the texts.
We are not sure Mr. Clottes wants to keep a copyright on these, or whether he wants to put them in the Public Domain; in either case, we would prefer not to jeopardize his rights, and we thus are preparing this release as if it were copyrighted in 1995. The translation in the original message we received was: "All rights reserved" so we are presuming the copyright. "Tous droits reserves" in the original French message... which is also included in this package and in English. If you want to get permission to use these for more uses than a private one, we suggest you contact the Minstry of Culture. Here is the permission statement we received in both French and English, and we are VERY glad to have received it on such short notice, and did not want to disturb things further by asking an additional time for more details.
Monsieur, Comme suite votre courrier ilectronique du 7 fivrier dernier, je vous informe que M. Jean Clottes, conseiller scientifique du sous-directeur de l'archiologie et auteur des quatre photographies et du texte sur la grotte ricemment dicouverte en Ardhche, a donni son autorisation pour l'utilisation de ses photographies dans le cadre du projet de CD-ROM Gutenberg. Merci de ne pas oublier de mentionner son nom sur les documents publiis.
Sir, As per your email of February 7th, I informed Mr. Jean Clottes, Scientific Consul to the Deputy-Director of Archeology and author of the four photographs and the texts concerning the cave paintings discovered in Ardhche, to get his authorization for the utilization of his photographs by the staff of Project Gutenberg's CDROM. Please do not forget to mention his name in the documents you publish.
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Title: Photographs of 20,000 Year Old Cave Paintings Author: Monsieur Jean Clottes Copyright (C) 1995 by Monsieur Jean Clottes Release Date: April, 1995 [Etext #249]
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Photographs of 20,000 Year Old Cave Paintings Copyright (C) 1995 by Monsieur Jean Clottes
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Photographs of 20,000 Year Old Cave Paintings Copyright (C) 1995 by Monsieur Jean Clottes
**This is a COPYRIGHTED Project Gutenberg Etext, Details Above**
Photographs of 20,000 Year Old Cave Paintings by Monsieur Jean Clottes April, 1995 [Item #249]
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Project Gutenberg Document: Cavep.eng
This is an English translation of the original message we received. This file should be named cavep.eng The original French language file should be names Only the first portion has been translated, more coming.
AN EXCEPTIONAL ARCHEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY A Paleolithical Embellished Cave found in France (Ardeche) An exceptional archeological discovery has been made public on January 17, 1995, by the Minister of Culture and French-Speaking language <Francophonie>, Mr. Jacques TOUBON. Discovered during December 1994 at Vallon-Pont-d'Arc (Ardeche, France), the cave, composed of several spacious galleries and dens, is adorned with some 300 paleolithical paintings and engravings (dating 18,000 - 20,000 years before present time), which focus on a wide variety of animals including bears, owls, mammooths, rhinos and felines. The cave has also retained several vestiges of human activities: fireplaces <hearths>, entailed flints and other clues which denote an evolution in tools and habits. Totally left intact and untouched by any human intrusion throughout the ages, the cave represents and exceptional source of studies for archeologists. In the wake of the artistical and archeological interest spawned by this thrilling discovery of national and international importance, the Director of Cultural Heritage has signed on January 13th the proceedings to classify the site. <I don't know if the translation makes sense: a "classified site" is a site which, due to its cultural importance, becomes an official patrimony of the nation> This urgency measure, taking effect immediately, confers the cave for one year the same statute and privileges which the historical monuments benefit. In order to ensure the preservation and the security of the cave, the Prefect of Ardeche has also signed on January 13 a by-law prohibiting the access to the cavity. Paris, January the 18th, 1995
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Project Gutenberg Document:
This is the original message we received in French. This file should be named The English translation should be named cavep.eng
Decouverte d'une grotte ornee paleolithique a Vallon-Pont-d'Arc (Ardeche) Cliches : Ministere de la culture et de la francophonie - Direction du Patrimoine Jean Clottes. Tous droits reserves.
Une decouverte archeologique d'une importance exceptionnelle vient d'intervenir dans les gorges de l'Ardeche, en limite du site naturel classe, en l'espece d'un vaste reseau souterrain orne d'un tres grand nombre de peintures et de gravures d'epoque paleolithique (vers 18000-20000 ans avant le present). La decouverte est intervenue sur le territoire de la commune de Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, le 25 decembre dernier, dans le cadre d'une prospection archeologique autorisee au titre des dispositions de la loi validee du 27 septembre 1941 portant reglementation de la recherche archeologique de France. Elle est le fait de M. Jean-Marie Chauvet, agent de surveillance titulaire au sein du Service regional de l'archeologie (D.R.A.C Rhône-Alpes) assiste de deux benevoles Mme Eliette Brunel-Deschamps et M. Christian Hillaire.
Au terme d'une desobstruction manuelle conduite dans un boyau tres etroit marquant le fond d'une cavite mineure s'ouvrant dans les falaises du Cirque d'Estre, les inventeurs ont debouche par une cheminee dans un tres vaste reseau totalement vierge, richement concretionne et recelant de nombreux restes paleontologiques en place (os d'ours de cavernes- Ursus spelaeus- dans leur bauge d'hibernation). Les galeries, fortement dimensionnees (section de 5 x 4 metres en moyenne), joignent plusieurs vastes salles (jusqu'a 70 x 40 metres) et sont, de place en place, decorees de peintures et de gravures de figurations animalieres isolees ou organisees en panneaux comprenant plus de cinquante unites dont les dimensions varient de 0,50 m a 4 metres de long. Au total, environ 300 peintures a l'ocre rouge ou au noir ont ete actuellement observees et au moins autant de gravures. On remarque plusieurs cas de superposition, et, localement, des voiles concretionnes ou des griffades d'ours, l'ensemble de ces faits authentifiant (s'il en etait besoin) l'anciennete de ces decors. a chaque extremite du reseau visite on peut constater la presence d'acces anciens actuellement colmates par des eboulis et des depots argileux. L'ensemble des galeries parcourues cumule un lineaire de plusieurs centaines de metres au long duquel se developpe un bestiaire tres original et particulierement varie (chevaux, rhinoceros, lions, bisons, aurochs, ours, pantheres, mammouths, bouquetins, hiboux, etc...) accompagne de signes symboliques, de panneaux ponctues et de mains positives ou negatives. Au plan artistique, il se degage un ensemble absolument unique dans le Sud de la France, que son importance et son originalite placent au meme rang que l'ensemble figure de Lascaux meme s'il n'offre pas de veritable polychromie ni le meme dimensionnement des representations. Partout, les traits peints ou graves sont plus ou moins concretionnes. Les traits peints, vus dans leurs details, presentent l'aspect erode caracteristique des peintures anciennes, meme celles apparemment les mieux conservees. En outre, la grotte est vierge, avec des sols intacts et d'innombrables vestiges non touches. Dans une salle, un ensemble de
gravures (cheval, mammouth, hibou) se trouve sur une retombee de voute a 5 ou 6 m du sol ; au-dessous, un vaste effondrement ancien explique ce qui s'est passe : une aspiration a provoque la formation de cet entonnoir et le sol sur lequel se trouvait l'artiste a alors disparu, de sorte que les gravures sont maintenant inaccessibles. Donc, l'authenticite est evidente.
La zone a peintures rouges comprend plusieurs panneaux de points, auxquels s'ajoutent parfois des signes, y compris des signes complexes originaux. Les panneaux avec des animaux rouges sont divers : dans une petite galerie, un cerf, est suivi tout au fond, de trois ours des cavernes et d'un cheval. Ailleurs, un grand panneau comprend plusieurs ours, dont un a l'avant-train tachete, un felin lui aussi tachete sur le haut du corps, un bouquetin et deux mammouths. Sur une paroi se voient un enorme rhinoceros a la corne disproportionnee, trois autres rhinoceros, un mammouth, deux felins, quatre mains positives et deux ou trois negatives, un demi-cercles de points rouges, un grand bovine, un signe fait de deux demi-cercles accoles. En tout, outre les points et les signes, plusieurs mains negatives completes et les mains positives, une trentaine de representations animales rouges et deux petites tetes de chevaux jaunes ont deja ete denombres. L'ours domine suivi du mammouth, du cheval, du rhinoceros, du felin ; le cerf, le bouquetin, l'aurochs, les indetermines, n'etant representes qu'a un seul exemplaire chacun.
Une centaine de figures noires a ete denombree : les rhinoceros dominent largement, suivis des felins puis des chevaux, les ours, des rennes, des bisons, des aurochs. On note la presence de mammouths, de cerfs megaceros, d'un bouquetin, de deux indetermines. Parmi les gravures, a noter 5 mammouths, 3 bouquetins, 2 rhinoceros, 2 chevaux, 1 aurochs, 1 hibou.
La facture de ces representations est excellente. Les proportions des corps sont naturalistes. Il s'agit surtout de dessins au trait, encore que certains presentent des a-plats de peinture a l'interieur des tetes ou des corps et un rendu savant du modele. De nombreux details anatomiques sont precises, de sorte que les animaux sont le plus souvent determinables sans ambiguite quant a l'espece et meme quant au sexe (femelles bisons, par exemple). Les dessins noirs ont "un air de famille" : la composition des panneaux, la facture des animaux, la technique employee partout avec une egale maitrise feraient penser a une meme "main". On peut legitimement se demander s'il ne s'agirait pas, en tres grande partie, de l'oeuvre d'une seule personne, un grand maitre du trait. Les recherches futures le preciseront. Par le nombre et la diversite des oeuvres, par leur qualite esthetique et leur conservation, par leur originalite aussi (dominance d'especes rares ailleurs), par la preservation du contexte, cette grotte est unique et d'une importance mondiale. C'est l'un des plus grand chefs d'oeuvres de l'art prehistorique. Au plan paleontologique, la cavite recele egalement les restes d'une centaine d'ursides, soit en place dans leur loge d'hibernation, soit en position secondaire, que les os aient ete deplaces par le passage de l'Homme, ou que certains cranes aient ete redisposes par lui en des emplacements privilegies de la grotte (par exemple au centre d'une salle en rotonde, sur un bloc rocheux). Cette abondance de restes dans un milieu preserve de toute perturbation moderne confere un second caractere d'importance a la decouverte. Au plan archeologique, il convient de souligner le caractere unique
d'un milieu clos exempt de toute intrusion et de tout remaniement. Outre les figurations, l'Homme a laisse dans la cavite de nombreux temoins de ses activites : foyers, silex tailles, traces de torches d'eclairage, amenagements de blocs rocheux, agencement de restes faunistiques et, surtout, de tres nombreuses empreintes de cheminement melees a celles des ours qui ont ete leurs contemporains dans les galeries. On remarque egalement des points d'extraction du sediment : confection de boulettes d'argile, recherche d'oxydes de fer et de manganese pour la confection des peintures. a ce jour, il parait que la grotte est le seul reseau orne totalement intact qui nous soit parvenu depuis le Paleolithique. Au plan de l'etude du milieu, la tres recente ouverture de la cavite permettra d'en etudier la climatologie interne. Il convient aussi de souligner la puissance des depots sedimentaires que la reprise d'erosion posterieure a l'occupation humaine a permis de mettre ponctuellement en evidence dans des puits de dissolution diriges vers le reseau perenne toujours actif a ce jour. La carbonatation des galeries est egalement intervenue apres le passage de l'Homme, scellant en de nombreux points des artefacts dans la calcite. Il existe la une occasion unique d'etude naturaliste visant a retracer l'evolution des milieux naturels durant le dernier glaciaire et l'Holocene. C'est la convergence de l'ensemble de ces caracteres, deja exceptionnels pour chacun d'entre eux, qui confere une importance absolue au reseau nouvellement decouvert.
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List of Pictures (JPEG)
Cave Painting featuring several animals including equines and bovines.
Picture Information
File name:  CHEVO11.JPG Width: 9.50000 inches (684 pixels) Height: 6.38889 inches (460 pixels) X dpi: 72 Y dpi: 72 Size on media support (bytes):  63,429 Format: JPEG Bitmaps (JPG) Subformat: JPEG Compression Type: 24 Bit RGB Color
Cave Painting featuring a Mammoth and other animals