Skull Room (Chauvet cave) (2008/2008) by L. Guichard/Perazio/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site
A natural extension of the Hillaire Chamber, the Skull Chamber resembles an amphitheater with natural tiers that act like clay benches surrounding this space. Bears have hibernated in this chamber, shown through evidence of the many bones on the benches and floors.
Some black figures (reindeer, mammoths, and big cat) adorn the walls and the vaulted ceilings. A rare representation of a muskox (ovibos) is difficult to distinguish on the wall at the back of the chamber. Three big fighting mammoths were scratched out by hand. This panel is nearly 10 ft long and 8 ft high. The mammoths are depicted amid intertwined pillars and alcoves evoking the bodies of these animals.
Skull Room (Chauvet Cave) (2008/2008) by L. Guichard/Perazio/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site
A cave bear skull placed by Paleolithic people on a limestone block occupies the center of the chamber. In this dark space, your eye is instinctively captured by the whiteness of the skull.
Cave Bear Skull (Chauvet Cave) (2008/2008) by L. Guichard/Perazio/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site
At the periphery of this installation are around 50 other skulls whose origin is impossible to know. Did people leave them there? Were they displaced by natural processes such as runoff, or jostled by bears moving on the benches?
The Lattices Gallery
In the extension of the Skull Chamber, there is a confined space that requires crouching for the first few yards.
It is in this chamber that there are perfectly-preserved human footprints from a child's bare feet date to more than 21,000 years ago (date of the final and complete closure of the cave).
Engraved horse in the Salle des Croisillons (Chauvet cave, Ardèche) by J. ClottesGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site
The chamber's vaulted ceiling also has imprints. A panel of over six-and-a-half feet depicts a horse and two mammoths. Traced by fingers on a surface of yellowish and often weathered walls (vermiculation facies), the person who designed these animals probably did so with two fingers stuck together. Indeed, the lines forming the bodies of animals seem split.
Finally, this chamber owes its name to the existence of lattices engraved on the rock and slightly masked by recent calcite development. These latticed symbols are associated with the Aurignacian culture. In particular, they decorate the flanks of some animal sculptures from the Swabian Alps dating from the same age as the parietal art of the Chauvet Cave.
Feline Fresco (Chauvet Cave, Ardèche) (2008/2008) by L. Guichard/Perazio/smergcGrotte Chauvet - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Discover the other rooms of the Chauvet Cave here:
- Brunel Room
- The Bear Hollow Chamber
- The Red Panels Gallery
- The Candle Chamber
- The Hillaire Chamber
- The Megaloceros Gallery
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.