Bonus Blog: Chauvet Cave

As an anthropology major I am always fascinated by people and cultures of the past. Although this class addressed a countless amount of different people and cultures, the culture of Chauvet cave is one that stood out to me. I think what made it stand out to me is the fact that it seems like a culture that is so close yet so far away.

Chauvet cave is the cave we watched a short documentary on near the beginning of the semester. It’s located in France and was rediscovered in 1994 by cave explorers. The cave was sealed off by a rock slide allowing everything inside to be almost perfectly preserved. Throughout the cave there are infinite clues into the lives of the people who lived in these caves. What is typically regarded as the most remarkable thing about the cave is the art found throughout. I would have to agree that I find this the most extraordinary thing about the cave. Art is able to show us so much about the inhabitants of the cave. Not only could the art show us about the people who had lived there but also about the animals who had lived with them. Skeletons of cave bears were found! Personally, I find the painting of the red dots done with the palm of one man’s hand the most fascinating. Scientists believe that the dots are intended to look like a buffalo. The fact that someone put red paint on their hand with the intention of making something they saw as beautiful astounds me. I think we always think of the people who lived during this time as being so primitive and barbaric. However, there is nothing more human than art.

Besides my fascination with art of Chauvet cave I think it can be looked at as an important scientific discovery as well as anthropological. The discovery of this cave allowed scientists to determine that bears actually dated back to over 29,000 years ago. Something that was previously unknown before the discovery of bear bones at Chauvet. Although this seems like a random and unimportant finding I’m sure it’s quite important to someone.
The French just opened a recreation of the cave on the 25th of April of this year allowing the public to get a firsthand look at this remarkable cave. There are still very strict preservation regulations intact that make it very hard for scientists today to enter the cave. However, these regulations are proof of just how significant of a finding this cave truly is.