Context and dating of Aurignacian vulvar representations from Abri Castanet, France

Randall White, Romain Mensan, Raphaëlle Bourrillon, Catherine Cretin, Thomas F.G. Higham, Amy E. Clark, Matthew L. Sisk, Elise Tartar, Philippe Gardère, Paul Goldberg, Jacques Pelegrin, Hélène Valladas, Nadine Tisnérat-Laborde, Jacques De Sanoit, Dominique Chambellan, Laurent Chiotti

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We report here on the 2007 discovery, in perfect archaeological context, of part of the engraved and ocre-stained undersurface of the collapsed rockshelter ceiling from Abri Castanet, Dordogne, France. 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. This discovery contributes an important dimension to our understanding of the earliest graphic representation in southwestern France, almost all of which was discovered before modern methods of archaeological excavation and analysis. Comparison of the dates for the Castanet ceiling and those directly obtained from the Chauvet paintings reveal that the "vulvar" representations from southwestern France are as old or older than the very different wall images from Chauvet.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)8450-8455
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number22
    StatePublished - May 29 2012


    • Paleolithic art
    • Rock engravings
    • Vulva
    • Vézère valley

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General


    Dive into the research topics of 'Context and dating of Aurignacian vulvar representations from Abri Castanet, France'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this