In 1994, in the valley of France’s Ardeche River, the Chauvet Cave was discovered. Within are the oldest works of art on record with some dating back 32,000 years. When collapsing rocks sealed off the entrance, estimated some 25,000 years ago, the mysteries hidden deep inside remained preserved. The cave appears to have been occupied by humans during two distinct periods: the Aurignacian and the Gravettian. Much of the artwork dates to the earlier, Aurignacian, era of about 30,000 years ago, while the later Gravettian occupation, (25,000 to 27,000 years ago), left little but a child’s footprints as well as the charred remains of fireplaces and ancient smoke stains from the torches that had once illuminated the caves.
Hundreds of animal paintings are depicted, numbering from among thirteen different species.