EXHIBIT: Virtual Chauvet

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Science  17 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5605, pp. 319
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5605.319c

Eight years ago, spelunker Jean-Marie Chauvet and two companions squeezed into a previously undiscovered cave in the Ardéche region of southern France. To their amazement, they found hundreds of paintings and engravings of woolly rhinoceroses, mammoths, and lions striding side by side, as well as other vivid images. Radiocarbon dating showed that some of the charcoal sketches on the walls of Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc, as the cave is now called, were about 31,000 years old—15,000 years older than the famous works at Lascaux.

Check out some of these early masterpieces—the world's oldest cave art—at this site from France's Ministry of Culture and Communication. A virtual tour through 500 meters of caverns and passages lets you zoom in on some of the spectacular artwork, like these horses, rhinos, and aurochs. The site also features backgrounders on the local geology and the artists' Aurignacian culture, as well as details of new discoveries. Researchers have already toppled some preconceptions about the Ice Age artists' skills and proclivities. They already knew how to use perspective and shading, for example, and they illustrated mainly fierce animals that they didn't hunt.


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