Simulation of an experimental fire in an underground limestone quarry for the study of Paleolithic fires | Grotte Chauvet-Pont d'Arc

Simulation of an experimental fire in an underground limestone quarry for the study of Paleolithic fires

Résumé

Numerous fire marks occur on the walls of the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave. Dating indicated that some of the fires were contemporary to the Aurignacian. Violent thermal shocks were observed in surprisingly narrow areas of the cave. This raises numerous archaeological questions about the function of the fires; the answers depend on the location of the hearths, and the intensity of the fires. Numerical simulation was used here to provide information about the behaviour of fires in such confined spaces. An underground non-archaeological site, in a limestone quarry, was equipped to monitor fires in an environment similar to that of the Megaceros gallery of the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave. The fire and the movement of heat and smoke in the quarry were simulated by the open source code “Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS)”. Results were validated on wall temperatures recorded behind and above the fire. The thermo-mechanical impact of the fire on the rock was simulated with CAST3M software, providing the most probable zones for limestone spalling due to thermal gradients. The validated approach will, in a forthcoming study, be applied to the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave, in which coupled simulations in the air and in the rock should indicate the location of the hearths and the intensity of the fires that generated the marks.

Publication
International Journal of Thermal Sciences
Catherine Ferrier
Catherine Ferrier
Géologue

Responsable de l’étude des sols

Jean-Claude Leblanc
Jean-Claude Leblanc
Archéologue

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