Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Reed Hastings, Co-founder and CEO of Netflix

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is Valls crying wolf?

Read more

DEBATE

Fighting the Islamic State group: What coalition against jihadists?

Read more

DEBATE

Fighting the Islamic State group: What coalition against jihadists? (Part two)

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic : the UN takes over the country's peacekeeping

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Fighting back against facial recognition

Read more

ENCORE!

U2's Free Album Annoys Some Fans

Read more

FOCUS

Lebanon: Islamic State organisation advances on refugee camps

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Kostyantyn Yeliseyev, Ukrainian Ambassador to the EU

Read more

Europe

UNESCO grants heritage status to prehistoric French cave

© AFP file picture

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-22

The UN’s cultural agency UNESCO on Sunday granted World Heritage status to a prehistoric cave in southern France which houses the earliest known man-made drawings.

UNESCO said the Grotte Chauvet in the Ardeche region “contains the earliest and best-preserved expressions of artistic creation of the Aurignacian people, which are also the earliest known figurative drawings in the world".

The cave, which survived sealed off for millennia before its discovery in 1994, contains more than 1,000 drawings dating back some 36,000 years to what is believed to be the first human culture in Europe.

"The large number of over 1,000 drawings covering over 8,500 square metres (90,000 square feet), as well as their high artistic and aesthetic quality, make Grotte Chauvet an exceptional testimony of prehistoric cave art."

The opening of the cave, located about 25 metres underground, was closed off by a rockfall 23,000 years ago.

It lay undisturbed until it was rediscovered by three French cave experts in 1994 and almost immediately declared a protected heritage site in France.

"Its state of preservation and authenticity is exceptional as a result of its concealment over 23 millennia," UNESCO said.

More discoveries expected

Access has since been severely restricted and fewer than 200 researchers a year are allowed to visit the cave, which stretches into several branches along about 800 metres and at its highest reaches 18 metres.

The painted images include representations of human hands and of dozens of animals, including mammoth, wild cats, rhinos, bison, bears and aurochs.

More discoveries are expected to be found in remote parts of the cave as yet unexplored.

The cave also includes remnants and prints of ancient animals, including those of large cave bears that are believed to have hibernated at the site.

Researchers believe the cave was never permanently inhabited by humans "but was instead of a sacred character" and "used for shamanist ritual practice".

With the cave closed to the public, authorities are building a full-scale replica of the site nearby, which is expected to open in the spring of 2015.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

Date created : 2014-06-22

  • WEST BANK

    UNESCO grants heritage status to threatened West Bank landscape

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    UNESCO adds Breton dance to world heritage list

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Conflict threatens Syria's archaeological heritage

    Read more

COMMENT(S)