Context and dating of Aurignacian vulvar representations from Abri Castanet, France



Publication Details

White, R., Mensan, R., Bourillon, R., Cretin, C., Higham, T. F. G., Clark, A. E., Sisk, M. L., Tartar, E., Gardere, P., Goldberg, P., Pelegrin, J., Valladas, H., Tisnerat-Laborde, N., de Sanoit, J., Chambellan, D. & Chiotti, L. (2012). Context and dating of Aurignacian vulvar representations from Abri Castanet, France. National Academy of Sciences. Proceedings, 109 (22), 8450-8455.


We report here on the 2007 discovery, in perfect archaeological context, of part of the engraved and ocre-stained undersurface of the collapsed rockshelter ceiling from Abri Castanet, Dordogne, France. The decorated surface of the 1.5-t roof-collapse block was in direct contact with the exposed archaeological surface onto which it fell. Because there was no sedimentation between the engraved surface and the archaeological layer upon which it collapsed, it is clear that the Early Aurignacian occupants of the shelter were the authors of the ceiling imagery. This discovery contributes an important dimension to our understanding of the earliest graphic representation in southwestern France, almost all of which was discovered before modern methods of archaeological excavation and analysis. Comparison of the dates for the Castanet ceiling and those directly obtained from the Chauvet paintings reveal that the "vulvar" representations from southwestern France are as old or older than the very different wall images from Chauvet.

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