Decorated cave of Pont d’Arc, known as Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc, Ardèche



CountryFrance
UNESCO RegionEurope and North America
CoordinatesN44 23 20 E4 24 59
Inscription Date2014
Property (ha)9
Buffer Zone (ha)1,353
Type of HeritageCultural
CriteriaTo represent a masterpiece of human creative genius
CriteriaTo bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared
Unesco Reference Number1426
URLhttp://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1426
DescriptionLocated in a limestone plateau of the Ardeche River in southern France, the property contains the earliest known and best preserved figurative drawings in the world, dating back as early as the Aurignacian period (30,000 to 32,000 BP), making it an exceptional testimony of prehistoric art. The cave was closed off by a rock fall approximately 20,000 years BP and remained sealed until its discovery in 1994, which helped keep it in pristine condition. Over 1,000 images have so far been inventoried on its walls, combining a variety of anthropomorphic and animal motifs. They are of exceptional aesthetic quality, demonstrate a range of techniques, including the skillful use of colour, combinations of paint and engraving, anatomical precision, three-dimensionality and movement. They include several dangerous animal species difficult to observe at that time, such as mammoths, bears, wildcats, rhinos, bison and aurochs, as well as 4,000 inventoried remains of prehistoric fauna, and a variety of human footprints. A replica of the cave is under construction, and is due to open in April 2015.
StatusWorld Heritage Site