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Illuminating the cave, drawing in black: wood charcoal analysis at Chauvet-Pont d'Arc

  • Isabelle Théry-Parisot (a1), Stéphanie Thiébault (a2), Jean-Jacques Delannoy (a3), Catherine Ferrier (a4), Valérie Feruglio (a4), Carole Fritz (a5), Bernard Gely (a6), Pierre Guibert (a7), Julien Monney (a3), Gilles Tosello (a8), Jean Clottes (a9) and Jean-Michel Geneste (a4)...

The Grotte Chauvet is world renowned for the quality and diversity of its Palaeolithic art. Fire was particularly important to the occupants, providing light and producing charcoal for use in motifs. Charcoal samples were taken systematically from features associated with the two main occupation phases (Aurignacian and Gravettian). Analysis showed it to be composed almost entirely of pine (Pinus sp.), indicating the harsh climatic conditions at this period. No distinction in wood species was found between either the two occupation episodes or the various depositional contexts. The results throw new light on the cultural and palaeoenvironmental factors that influenced choices underlying the collection of wood for charcoal production.

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