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The dates have been a matter of dispute but a study published in 2012 supports placing the art in the Aurignacian period, approximately 32,000–30,000 years BP.

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This combination of subjects has led some students of prehistoric art and cultures to believe that there was a ritual, shamanic, or magical aspect to these paintings.

One drawing, later overlaid with a sketch of a deer, is reminiscent of a volcano spewing lava, similar to the regional volcanoes that were active at the time.

Many of the paintings appear to have been made only after the walls were scraped clear of debris and concretions, leaving a smoother and noticeably lighter area upon which the artists worked.

Similarly, a three-dimensional quality and the suggestion of movement are achieved by incising or etching around the outlines of certain figures.

The radiocarbon dates from these samples suggest that there were two periods of creation in Chauvet: 35,000 years ago and 30,000 years ago.

A research article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in May 2012 by scientists from the University of Savoy, Aix-Marseille University and the Centre National de Prehistoire confirmed that the paintings were created by people in the Aurignacian era, between 30,000 and 32,000 years ago.Abstract markings—lines and dots—are found throughout the cave.There are also two unidentifiable images that have a vaguely butterfly or avian shape to them.The researchers’ findings are based on the analysis using geomorphological and dating of the rock slide surfaces around what is believed to be the cave’s only entrance.Their analysis showed that the entrance was sealed by a collapsing cliff some 29,000 years ago.The later Gravettian occupation, which occurred 25,000 to 27,000 years ago, left little but a child's footprints, the charred remains of ancient hearths, and carbon smoke stains from torches that lit the caves.

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