The Brunel Room

A chaotic landscape of cave art

Brunel Room landscape (Chauvet Cave) (2008/2008) by L. Guichard/Perazio/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Brunel Chamber presents a very chaotic landscape as opposed to the uniformity of the Bear Hollow Chamber. This tormented geology predates human presence. Areas of old and dismantled concretions are scattered on the ground and can make walking difficult.

The Brunel Chamber contains parietal representations. Their common feature is on observation point from the top of a scree (small-stone mass) several yards high. Several red dots drawn in ocher, marking the place precisely in this spot, also demonstrate a desire to dramatize this chambers entangled relief.

Big Hands Panel - Salle Brunel (grotte Chauvet, Ardèche) (2008/2008) by L. Guichard/Perazio/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

The parietal representations are characterized by the abundant use of the hand drawing technique, i.e. applying the palm of the hand filled with soft wet clay on the rock wall or with the help of a plant-based stamp (moss) or animal skin. This technique is characteristic of the art in the Chauvet Cave.

The sacred heart panel

This panel, at 19.5 ft long and 10 ft high, is located on the edge of the prehistoric entrance. The passage of bears (in the lower part, about 3 ft high) and the proximity to the entrance porch resulted in the fading of these dozens of dots. These hand stencils are streaked with symbolic imprints. This cluster could represent an animal profile (a bison, possibly). To the right of this panel of red dots is a wreath of red lines topped by two perpendicular segments, poorly named Sacred Heart.

Punctuated Animal - Brunel Room (Chauvet Cave) (2008/2008) by L. Guichard/Perazio/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

The spotted animal panel

Here too is an animal profile (a bison or rhinoceros perhaps) which was created using the hand dot technique. Occupying a clear and flat wall highlighted by a rough-hewn frame, the location of this representation was deliberately chosen to be seen and shared.

These red dots are different from the others found in the Brunel Chamber. They have a more marked palm-shaped cavity. The fingers, sometimes visible, are longer. These dots could have been produced by a tall person (6 ft).

Cave Bear - Brunel room (Chauvet Cave) (2008/2008) by L. Guichard/Perazio/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

The bear diverticulum

The symbolic treatment of the cave bear in the Chauvet Cave is special. Animals are often grouped together in sometimes monumental panels and frescoes. In contrast, the bear is very often drawn alone. Thus, the Bear Diverticulum is a small compartment, accessible in a squatting position.

After a few yards, this compartment widens and you discover three red bears, one of which is complete. The other is only partial although the natural crevices of the rock seem to complete the animal's undepicted body. There is also the head of a smaller bear. In addition to the symbolic dimension of the place, this semi-hidden setting could be an old bear hollow where cave bears came to hibernate.

Cactus Rooms (Chauvet Caves) by smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

The cactus gallery

The entrance of this side gallery approximately 30 m (33 yd) deep is distinguished by the presence of the first two drawings spotted by the three discoverers on December 18, 1994. After entering this side gallery, several yards further in and noting an abundance of cave bear bones, Eliette Brunel made out two small vertical lines drawn in red ocher. She cried out: "They were here!"

Discovery Mammouth - Cactus (Chauvet Cave) by J. ClottesGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Right after that, the three discoverers passed near a small red mammoth drawn on a rock pendant.

At that moment, they said that they had "entered prehistory."

Feline Fresco (Chauvet Cave, Ardèche) (2008/2008) by L. Guichard/Perazio/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Credits: Story

The Syndicat mixte de l'Espace de restitution de la grotte Chauvet (Public Union to manage the Chauvet Cave/SMERGC) thanks the Ministry of Culture and Communication. This exhibition was created as part of an agreement linking these two partners to promote the Chauvet Cave and its geographical and historical context.
SMERGC is the designer, developer and owner of the La Grotte Chauvet 2 site (formerly known as Caverne du Pont d'Arc). It prepared and defended the application package of the Chauvet Cave for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

SMERGC also thanks Google Arts & Culture.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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