The Cave Art Paintings of the Chauvet Cave

The Cave Paintings of Chauvet by Robert A. Hefner III



Robert A. Hefner III
Robert A. Hefner III
The small area of France's Ardeche that surrounds the Pont d'Arc of the Ardeche River is warm and welcoming and itself a bit like nature's womb. Geomorphically and geologically it is quite special with thick deposits of Dogger/Malm carbonates necessary to allow the Ardeche River to cut through and form a grand arch, itself a natural work of art, and abandon its former oxbow to a fertile field and small, sheltered valley so suitable for both people and animals of the time.
 
Protected and surrounded by small mountains shot through with caves, vugs and grottos. This small piece of France must have been unique within the known lands of the Paleolithic people of the region.
 
So with the original discovery of the spectacular cave system we now call Chauvet, and its plethora of supernatural shapes, its first explorers were literally transported to another world that was soon to become a great "cathedral" of its times.
 
People:
 
Elite, disciplined, well-trained artists/shamans, possibly leaders of a cult of spirituality of knowing the "non-natural" Other World that elevated their status to a super-hierarchy of their times.
 
Chauvet Cave
Sketches from the Chauvet Cave by Robert A. Hefner III
I would speculate that their time in the caves took them to inner levels of superhuman feelings that gave them great confidence and set them apart among their people that they then shared with a chosen few; an air of difference, of status, of leadership.
 
Thus, the area of the oxbow, Pont d' Arc and Ardeche River became the Vatican or Mecca attracting pilgrims of Paleolithic times, possibly for over 5,000 years. The Chauvet caves became the inner sanctum or Sistine Chapel. A number of thoughts and facts lead me to the conclusion that Chauvet was a holy/spiritual/elite place where rituals were practiced, probably with lights and music that added to the magic, just as they do with gatherings today.
 
Chauvet Cave
Sketches from the Chauvet Cave
by Robert A. Hefner III
The fact that the art is of such extremely high quality, with many single lines and exhibiting the artistic sensitivity of Picasso (i.e., the backs of the pair of 2.45 meter lions each drawn with one line), yet no practice was to be seen; only accomplished works of art, often defined by one sensitive line, and thus the works of a great talented and practiced artist.
 
Discipline and control was practiced, as only a very few of the many possible drawing .sites were used, but in each case, the most special as to their form, location and evoked feelings.
 
Unlike other "rock art" sites, with handprints, scratches and other marks littering every possible space, the "shamans", the elite artists/spiritual practitioners of the Chauvet, exercised discipline and control, as evidenced by the fact that only such special locations were painted, and this in spite of the fact of the evidence of children being present. These very special spots must have been held in great esteem as exceptionally holy and spiritual.
 
As there were no human remains, yet those of literally hundreds of cave bears and a few wolves, I would venture that humans were not in occupancy during the winter bear hibernation and therefore the periods of human habitation were special, probably late spring and summer, and represented an annual pilgrimage or special spiritual occasions within the Other World of the caves. These thoughts lead me to believe Chauvet was a long-term center of some type of spiritualism practiced by these Paleolithic people, and if the exceptionally high quality and sophistication of the art is an indication, as it should be, then the spiritualism practiced by these people was equally sophisticated and well developed; certainly, an indication of what we call civilized.
 
Again, in my mind, this leads to the conclusion of a hierarchical class of elite, accomplished, practiced and talented shamans of the Pont d'Arc. Of course, I wonder what spiritualism was practiced. We will never know, but certainly there are clues.
 
First, the great rooms of the caves were themselves a totally different world full of what must have seemed supernatural shapes and forms, with rarified air to breath and without any natural light. The held torches would cast ever changing light and shadow on this sparkling (calcite crystals) mystical world.
 
Chauvet Cave
Sketches from the Chauvet Cave by Robert A. Hefner III
First, the great rooms of the caves were themselves a totally different world full of what must have seemed supernatural shapes and forms, with rarified air to breath and without any natural light. The held torches would cast ever changing light and shadow on this sparkling (calcite crystals) mystical world.
 
This environment was a non-world within the earth. A place of birth and rebirth, combined with unique physical phenomena of beauty, sensuality and sexuality, evoking extra human inner-feelings, a place where once visited, following the "rights of entry", one would never again be the same. Hence, an elite; a shaman and a leader of the population.
 
Robert A. Hefner III - 2005
 
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