Art and Images in Psychiatry
Sep 2011

Chauvet Cave: The Panel of Horses

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011;68(9):869-870. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.114

It is a fantastic panel indeed! I was the first specialist to see it on 29 December 1994, and I vividly remember my deep emotion particularly in front of the horses' heads!—Jean Clottes (written communication, July 1, 2011)

On December 18, 1994, three French friends, Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, and Christian Hillaire, all experienced spelunkers, discovered a decorated cave in the side of a limestone cliff between the Cévennes and Rhone valleys at Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, Ardèche, France, above the old river bed. Inside they found what is believed to be the world's oldest known representational art.1 The 3 discovers were engaged in a systematic in-depth exploration of the caves in this region of France and had drawn up an inventory of promising archeological sites not previously visited. The region is a nature reserve where the landscape, with its magnificent natural arch over the river bed, the plants and trees (lavender, heath, evergreen oaks, box trees, and Spanish junipers), and animals all are federally protected.

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