News FocusArchaeology

New Light on the Oldest Art

Science  12 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5404, pp. 920-922
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5404.920a

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PONT D'ARC, FRANCE-- Archaeologists have at last begun to study the world's oldest paintings--cave art on the walls of France's Grotte Chauvet--and, by scrutinizing the cave floor as well, have already found clues to the habits of the ancient artists. These paintings have unparalleled potential to shed light on early artistic achievements; already, the magnificent skill of their creators has shattered previous chronologies of the development of artistic sophistication and suggests that many techniques once thought to have been invented much later--such as shading and perspective--were already in use soon after modern humans arrived in Europe (Science, 20 November 1998, p. 1451).