Some of the world’s oldest prehistoric artwork was recently estimated to be at least 10,000 years older than previously thought. The cave drawings located in the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave in southeastern France are more than 30,000 years old, researchers stated.
Discovered in 1994, this UNESCO World Heritage site features red and black human hand prints as well as drawings of 14 different animal species.
Researchers collected and analyzed more than 350 dates obtained by radiocarbon, uranium-series, chlorine-36, and thermoluminescence methods. Scientists dated the materials used for the drawings like charcoal used for the fires, charcoal torch marks, and bones of different animals found inside the cave.
Anita Quiles, a scientist at the French institute for Oriental Archaeology in Cairo, states, “What is new in our study is that we have established the chronology of the cave for the first time in calendar years,” Discovery News reports.
This study gave a new timeline to the cave and found that there were two waves of human occupation. The first was between 37,000 to 33,500 years ago. The second wave lasted from 31,000 to 28,000 years ago.
Both waves ended with a rockfall in the cave. As no human remains were found in the cave, scientists believe humans did not live there but visited from time to time.
Due to stylistic similarities, the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave was thought to be from around the same period as the similar cave art found in Lascaux, France. But now, researchers have found that there were roughly 10,000 to 15,000 years between both caves.
Quiles reports that they can now say with absolute certainty there has not been any human activity in Chauvet for 30,000 years. This makes it the oldest in the world.
These interesting caves offer tourists a glimpse of France’s culture. With approximately 4,000 tourist sites and events attracting 300 million visits per year, along with 8,000 museums and 45,000 listed or registered historic monuments in France, it is no surprise France is the world’s most visited country.