The Pont-d’Arc site, an archeological and technological wonder [fr]
Discovered nearly 20 years ago, The Decorated Cave of Pont-d’Arc elicits all sorts of superlatives! This unique cave, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is not only the oldest cave decorated by man, it is also the most stunning, the largest and the best preserved of all. Adorned with the richest and most diverse of bestiaries, this mineral time capsule never fails to arouse the enthusiasm of those who have had the rare privilege of entering it.
This «earthly jewel» contains intact traces of the lives of our ancestors there, 36 000 years ago. The wall paintings, and also the spatial arrangements that Man has produced, and the role played by the Arc Bridge in front of the cave reveal a part of our ancient humanity. Too fragile to receive visitors, one is attracted to ensure its optimal conservation in order to pass it on to future generations.
Inspired by a common desire to share this prehistoric cave sanctuary with as many people as possible, the General Council of the Ardèche and the Regional Council of Rhône-Alpes created 2007 the Joint Association for the Space for the Reproduction of the Decorated Cave of Pont-d’Arc, known as Grotte Chauvet. A comprehensive study was undertaken and a Charter of Cooperation was signed between the French State, the Rhône-Alpes region and the Department of Ardèche.
The reproduction of the Decorated Cave of Pont-d’Arc achieves two objectives:
• To design and implement a major cultural project worthy of the universal heritage that is the original cave
• To promote regional development, the standing and international reputation of the Ardèche and its surrounding region, building on this great cultural project.
The most important replica decorated cave in the world, The Cavern of Pont-d’Arc is located on the heights of Vallon Pont-d’Arc at Le Raza, in the heart of 29 hectare woodland. The 8 500 m² Decorated Cave of Pont d’Arc known as Grotte Chauvet has been condensed down to 3 000 m². As with the original cave, the entire visit takes place on a raised-walkway which is punctuated by 10 observation points.
Developed in close collaboration with the scientific research team, The Cavern of Pont-d‘Arc is an innovative site using scenographic techniques which have never before been implemented on such a scale. The cave-wall profiles are reproduced down to the millimeter; the most remarkable paintings, engravings, paleontological and essential geological representations are reproduced full-scale from the scanned originals. The objective is to reproduce the emotions originally aroused by the cave and to reveal its hidden world.
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