Dating the landscape evolution around the Chauvet‐Pont d'Arc cave | Grotte Chauvet-Pont d'Arc

Dating the landscape evolution around the Chauvet‐Pont d'Arc cave


The Chauvet cave (UNESCO World Heritage site, France) is located in the Ardèche Gorge, a unique physical and cultural landscape. Its setting within the gorge-overlooking a meander cutoff containing a natural arch called the Pont d’Arc-is also remarkable. Investigating possible associations between sites' physical and cultural settings, chronologies of human occupation, and access conditions has become a major theme in archeological research. The present study aims to reconstruct the landscape of the Pont d’Arc meander cutoff during the Upper Paleolithic, when humans were present in the Chauvet Cave. We used uranium-series and electron spin resonance analyses to date the formation of the Pont d’Arc natural arch in the Combe d’Arc meander cutoff, near the Chauvet Cave. Results show that the meander became totally cutoff between 108 and 138 ka (95%). Hence, the natural arch formed before the Upper Paleolithic and the first known human presence in the Chauvet Cave, dated to 37 ka cal BP. These results allowed us to reconstruct a key part of the landscape surrounding the Chauvet Cave when it was being used by Upper-Paleolithic societies.

Scientific Reports

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