RETURN TO THE CHAUVET CAVE BY JOHN ROBINSON
Thinking about the Bear Clan and Chauvet has been like a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel. If the earth was to open up and the Chauvet Cave was to disappear forever, I can not think of a greater loss to mankind. There is simply nothing else like it in the world, including my beloved Nefertari Tomb or the Sistine Chapel. Nothing compares to Chauvet, as the art is the first evidence of a Civilisation that existed during the last Ice Age.
Shook my Mind
I compare Chauvet to the Renaissance. For me it was an awakening, a gathering together of all the knowledge that I have collected during my life. Chauvet literally shook my Mind.
No innate tendency
What we call Civilisation is part of Evolution and therefore subject to Darwin's conviction that there is "No innate tendency to progressive development". Mankind constantly has to adapt to the environment. We have to accept that Civilisation is merely a by-product of the giant Universal mechanism of Evolution and that there is also an "innate tendency to inevitable destruction".
Proved to be unsustainable
Consider the ancient urban Civilisations starting with the 8,000-year-old urban development of Catal Huyuk in Asia Minor. Catal was followed by Babylon, Malta, Stonehenge, Egyptian, Minoan, Greek, Roman, and so on. They are all stepping stone in the evolutionary fight for survival of Civilisation. One by one they collapsed and were replaced. They proved to be unsustainable. Undoubtedly our present Civilisation will also collapse and be replaced because it also is unsustainable.
Social success lead to peaks in Civilisation, but some form of catastrophe always causes these peaks to collapse, be it ice, floods, super volcanic eruptions, famines, disease, or plagues. Success also seems to bring about a lack of resolution and a dilution of the survival instinct in Mankind. It invariable leads to over population, a diminishing of resources, dependency on cheap labour. Perhaps success causes a weakness of resolve that leads to collapse.
Without doubt Hunter-gather societies lead the most sustainable existence possible. For 60,000 years the Australian Aborigines lead such an existence before it was ended by the arrival of Europeans 250 years ago.
The Chauvet Cave was only used for religious ceremonies, on and off, for over a period of 5,000 years, a greater length of time than between now and the building of the Pyramids. The Bear Clan were part of a very successful society as shown by the quality of their art. I suspect that even if the Ice Age had not happened their society would have eventually collapsed. They were too inventive, too intuitive, too creative, and too artistic. They were "forward thinkers" and so probably doomed by their own ability.
The Australian Aborigines lived in a static state, surviving off the land by following a set of rules that never allowed their population to reach beyond the food supply. It was a remarkable achievement and lasted sixty thousand years. If a series of good years raised the population, droughts quickly reduced it again because the women stopped having babies.
Earth's carrying capacity
Of course every life is precious to the individual family, but it is not precious to the overall Society, especially if the added burden is seen to be a danger to the whole. Mankind needs to think about "Earth's carrying capacity", something I am sure the Chauvet Bear Clan knew all to well.
All the rest is mere smoke
One of the Greek philosophers said, "Mankind is made up of three parts, his Body, his Life and his Mind. The only one we have any control over is our Mind. All the rest is mere smoke". It's true.
The Wonder of the World
The only justification I can think of for being allowed into Chauvet, is to share with you, the viewers, just a little of the miracle of the Chauvet Cave. In my humble opinion it is The Wonder of the World.