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Dating the landscape evolution around the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave

  • Genuite, Kim1
  • Delannoy, Jean-Jacques1
  • Bahain, Jean-Jacques2
  • Gresse, Marceau3
  • Jaillet, Stéphane1
  • Phillippe, Anne4
  • Pons-Branchu, Edwige5
  • Revil, André1
  • Voinchet, Pierre2
  • 1 UMR 5204, CNRS, Savoie Mont Blanc University, Campus scientifique, Bat. Pôle Montagne, Le Bourget-du-Lac cedex, 73376, France , Le Bourget-du-Lac cedex (France)
  • 2 Histoire Naturelle de L’Homme Préhistorique, UMR 7194, CNRS, MNHN, UPVD, 1, rue René Panhard, Paris, 75013, France , Paris (France)
  • 3 University of Tokyo, Tokyo, 158-8557, Japan , Tokyo (Japan)
  • 4 Nantes University, 2, rue de la Houssinière, BP 92208, Nantes, 44322, France , Nantes (France)
  • 5 UMR 8515 CEA, CNRS, UVSQ, Orme des Merisiers, Bat 714, Chemin de Saint Aubin – RD 128, Gif sur Yvette cedex, 91191, France , Gif sur Yvette cedex (France)
Published Article
Scientific Reports
Springer Nature
Publication Date
Apr 26, 2021
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-88240-5
Springer Nature


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.

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