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Department of Archaeology

Staff

Publication details for Prof Paul Pettitt

Pettitt, Paul & Bahn, Paul (2015). An alternative chronology for the art of Chauvet cave. Antiquity 89(345): 542-553.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

It is now 20 years since the discovery of the Grotte Chauvet with its impressive cave art, but controversy continues over the antiquity of the images. Radiocarbon assays have been used to argue that the ‘black series’ charcoal drawings date to the Aurignacian period, more than 20 000 years earlier than traditional stylistic models would suggest. This paper questions the validity of the radiometric dating and cautions against reliance solely on the date of the charcoal. Instead, the authors propose an alternative chronology for the art of Chauvet based on stylistic comparanda, palaeontological remains and stratigraphic evidence.