Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo
Extremeskins

Gizmodo: The 30,000-Year-Old Cave That Descends Into Hell


#98QBKiller

Recommended Posts

This sounds awesome:

http://gizmodo.com/5738795/the-30000+year+old-cave-that-descends-into-hell

The 30,000-Year-Old Cave That Descends Into Hell

There's a cave in France where no humans have been in 26,000 years. The walls are full of fantastic, perfectly-preserved paintings of animals, ending in a chamber full of monsters 1312-feet underground, where CO2 and radon gas concentrations provoke hallucinations. It's called the the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave, a really weird and mysterious place. The walls contain hundreds of animals—like the typical Paleolithic horses and bisons—but some of them are not supposed to be there, like lions, panthers, rhinos and hyenas.

A few are not even supposed to exist, like weird butterflyish animals or chimerical figures half bison half woman. These may be linked to the hallucinations. The trip is such that some archeologists think that it had a ritual nature, with people transcending into a new state as they descended into the final room.

In fact, the paintings themselves are of such sophistication—some even have three-dimensional relief—that is hard to believe they were made back then. However, radiocarbon dating shows that these paintings are indeed prehistoric: A group was made around 27,000-26,000 years ago and the other at 32,000-30,000 years ago.

The cave first discovered in 1994 by three French speleologists: Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, Christian Hillaire, and Jean-Marie Chauvet. And now you can visit it too. Not in person, but in the next best thing: The great German film director Werner Herzog has made a 3D film of it, which is the only 3D film I want to watch this year (actually, amazing documentaries are probably the only movie genre that is perfect for 3D, like this or the Hubble 3D movie).

Send an email to Jesus Diaz, the author of this post, at jesus@gizmodo.com.

XfKqEbbjNb0

*Edit:

More info on the cave here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chauvet_Cave

The Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave is a cave in the Ardèche department of southern France that contains the earliest known cave paintings, as well as other evidence of Upper Paleolithic life.[1] It is located near the commune of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc on a limestone cliff above the former bed of the Ardèche River. Discovered in 1994, it is considered one of the most significant prehistoric art sites.

The cave was first explored on December 18, 1994 by a group of three speleologists: Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, Christian Hillaire, and Jean-Marie Chauvet, for whom it was named. Chauvet (1996) has a detailed account of the discovery. There is a summary here. On top of the paintings and other human evidence they also discovered fossilized remains, prints, and markings from a variety of animals, some of which are now extinct. Further study by French archaeologist Jean Clottes has revealed much about the site, though the dating has been the matter of some dispute.

The cave is situated at N 44° 21' and E 4° 29' 24", above the previous course of the Ardèche River before the Pont d'Arc opened up. The gorges of the Ardèche region are home to numerous caves, many of them having some geological or archaeological importance. The Chauvet Cave, however, is uncharacteristically large and the quality, quantity, and condition of the artwork found on its walls has been called spectacular. Based on radiocarbon dating, the cave appears to have been occupied by humans during two distinct periods: the Aurignacian and the Gravettian.[2] Most of the artwork dates to the earlier, Aurignacian, era (30,000 to 32,000 years ago). The later Gravettian occupation, which occurred 25,000 to 27,000 years ago, left little but a child's footprints, the charred remains of ancient hearths and carbon smoke stains from torches that lit the caves. After the child's visit to the cave, evidence suggests that the cave had been untouched until discovered in 1994.[3] The footprints may be the oldest human footprints that can be dated accurately.

The soft, clay-like floor of the cave retains the paw prints of cave bears along with large, rounded, depressions that are believed to be the "nests" where the bears slept. Fossilized bones are abundant and include the skulls of cave bears and the horned skull of an ibex.[4]

Hundreds of animal paintings have been catalogued, depicting at least 13 different species, including some rarely or never found in other ice age paintings. Rather than depicting only the familiar animals of the hunt that predominate in Paleolithic cave art, i.e. horses, cattle, reindeer, etc., the walls of the Chauvet Cave are covered with predatory animals: lions, panthers, bears, owls, rhinos and hyenas. Typical of most cave art, there are no paintings of complete human figures, although there is one possible partial "Venus" figure that may represent the legs and genitals of a woman. Also a chimerical figure may be present; it appears to have the lower body of a woman with the upper body of a bison. There are a few panels of red ochre hand prints and hand stencils made by spitting pigment over hands pressed against the cave surface. Abstract markings—lines and dots—are found throughout the cave. There are also two unidentifiable images that have a vaguely butterfly shape to them. This combination of subjects has led experts in pre-historic art and cultures to believe that there was likely a ritual, shamanic, or magical aspect to these paintings.

The artists who produced these unique paintings used techniques not often seen in other cave art. Many of the paintings appear to have been made only after the walls were scraped clear of debris and concretions. This left a smoother and noticeably lighter area upon which the artists worked. Similarly, a three dimensional quality is achieved by incising or etching about the outlines of certain figures. This visually emphasizes some of the animals and allows torch light to cast shadows about the edges.

The cave contains the oldest known cave paintings, based on radiocarbon dating of "black from drawings, from torch marks and from the floors", according to Jean Clottes. Clottes concludes that the "dates fall into two groups, one centred around 27,000-26,000 BP and the other around 32,000-30,000 BP."[1] As of 1999, the dates of 31 samples from the cave had been reported. The earliest, sample Gifa 99776 from "zone 10", dates to 32,900±490 BP.[5]

However, some archaeologists have questioned these dates. Christian Züchner, based on his archaeological dating, is of the opinion that the red paintings are from the Gravettian period (c. 28,000–23,000 BP) and the black paintings are from the Early Magdalenian period (early part of c. 18,000–10,000 BP).[6] Pettitt and Bahn believe the dating is inconsistent with the traditional stylistic sequence and that there is uncertainty about the source of the charcoal used in the drawings and the extent of surface contamination on the exposed rock surfaces.[7][8] New stylistic studies show that some Gravettian engravings are superimposed on black paintings proving the paintings' older origins.[9]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very interesting, definitely looks like a movie I'll want to see. Chuck Klosterman wrote some interesting things about the director of this movie, mainly his inability to recognize irony. Not sure how that fits, but it came to mind when he started speaking in the trailer above.

Too bad Grizzly Man can't make a cameo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...