Chauvet Cave, located in southern France, is a cave that
contatin the earliest—and best preserved cave paintings in the world. The
images are from the Upper Paleolithic period and are at least 37 000 years old,
but aside from the intricate paintings, the cave was also discovered to contain
the fossilized remains of various extinct animals and plants.
One of the larger cave painting sites, Chauvet
Cave is embedded into limestone cliffs and the sheer quantity of paintings and
artwork is in itself spectacular, nevermind the size and quality of the
pictures (which are themselves remarkable). What the images depict is also
unique compared to other finds of this nature. As opposed to specifically
painting typical herbivores (likely the quarry of prehistoric human hunters),
the cave also depicts predatory animals as well, such as cave lions, panthers,
bears, and hyenas. All told, there are at least 13 different species depicted
in the paintins, including rhinoceroses. These images do not exist outside of
context, however, and many of them depict complex scenes or interaction between
species and other artistic and more abstract depictions (such as red ochre
reliefs of hands, and other lines and dashes).
Chauvet Cave recently re-entered the public eye
just this past March when a researchers recently claimed that the cave depicts
various volcanic eruptions and that such paintings are the first time humans
recorded and depicted those eruptions in history. Splashes of red ochre and
what appears to be an impromptu dive into deeply abstract imagery (a notable
departure from some fairly realistic animals) would seem to support this
The cave is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but
unfortunately has been off limits to the public since 1994. As with the caves
in Lascaux, frequent human activity inside the cave slowly cultivated a species
of mould which could have damaged the paintings. A replica was opened to the
public in April, 2015.
Scenic panoramas of the Rogue Valley and surrounding mountains await you at the Table Rocks Area of Critical Environmental Concern in Oregon. This 3,172-acre area is cooperatively managed by the Bureau of Land Management and The Nature Conservancy to provide educational opportunities and protect special biologic, geologic, and scenic values. Steep hiking trails lead to the top of Upper and Lower Table Rocks, while a half-mile accessible trail at Lower Table Rock provides visitors with a less strenuous option. Photo by Bob Wick, @mypubliclands.