How Do We Know These Drawings Were Produced 36,000 Years Ago?

Take our mini-quiz and find out

Grotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

How do we know that these black drawings were produced 36,000 years ago? (2019/2019) by Fanny Le BagousseGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

What can give us a clue…

A. The chemical element carbon-14 or B. Our intuition

The correct answer is…

A. Chemical element carbon-14

Horses panel (Chauvet cave) (2006/2006) by L. GuichardGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

In the Chauvet Cave, most of the depictions on the walls are black drawings done using charcoal. This material contains the chemical element carbon-14, which is found in all living organisms. Once an animal or plant dies, the carbon-14 begins to deteriorate.

How do we know that these black drawings were produced 36,000 years ago? (2019/2019) by Fanny Le BagousseGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

By isolating the carbon-14, scientists can establish how much of it remains and are then able to calculate the date of death of the animal or plant. The carbon-14 method can only go back as far as 50,000 years ago. 

What materials did the Aurignacians use to make their paint? (2019/2019) by Fanny Le BagousseGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Let's see if you can answer another prehistory question!

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