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All information gathered first-hand, since 1995

The Chauvet cave paintings were done in two different periods, the first about 36,500 years ago and the second about 30-31,000 years ago. The earliest period is from the Aurignacian culture, which is the earliest human culture in Europe, appearing around 43,000 years ago in Eastern Europe and 36-40,000 years ago in Western Europe.

These are the methods used for the different styles of paintings on the cave walls.

Chauvet cave art charcoal method, with

Charcoal Drawings

Charcoal drawings in the Chauvet Grotto display only black lines, although line thickness and shading is used to artistic advantage. The charcoal was manufactured by the Aurignacians with charcoal kilns, using wood from the local Scots pines. Charcoal kilns were considered somewhat high-tech in the Middle Ages, over 30 thousand years later.

Chauvet cave art dabbing method, with


This "red splotches" method, called dabbing, puts an ocre red dots on the wall using rounded wood tools or tightly bunched plants.

Chauvet cave art paint-blowing method


A negative "selfie" image, often of the artist's hand, is produced by spitting a mouthful of ocre dye across their body-part template. A tool such as a hollowed bone tube was also used, to obtain finer detail.

Chauvet cave art hard wall engraving

Hard Wall Engraving

Thin-line engravings were made in the hard limestone walls using various sharp-edged tools. Common tools could have been sharp bone fragments or a dihedral graver: a stone flake with a chisel-like edge.

Chauvet cave art soft wall engraving

Soft Wall Engraving

thicker-line engravings can be seen on what were then the softer cave walls, usually higher up where the wall surfaces had not been rubbed away over time. The artistic tools used were simply rounded sticks or stones.

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