The decorated surface of this 1.5-t roof-collapse block was in direct contact with the exposed archaeological surface onto which it fell.
There was no sedimentation between the engraved surface and the archaeological layer upon which it collapsed.
The meticulous extraction of the block enabled us to study the preserved negative of the engraving imprinted on the layer’s surface.
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.
Scientific understanding of the origins and early evolution of graphic and plastic imagery underwent a revolution in the 1990s and 2000s with the discovery and dating of Aurignacian (1) wall images in the Grotte Chauvet (2, 3) and the Grotte d’Aldène (4, 5), new ivory sculptures from southwestern Germany (6–14), our understanding of the chronological and cultural context of that early-discovered symbolic record has been limited by the crude archaeological methods and anecdotal descriptions of that pioneering era.
In 2007, we excavated part of the engraved and ocre-stained undersurface of the collapsed rockshelter ceiling from Abri Castanet, Dordogne, France.
We present uranium-series disequilibrium dates of calcite deposits overlying or underlying art found in 11 caves, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites of Altamira, El Castillo, and Tito Bustillo, Spain.