The discovery – The survey

Jean Clottes is an expert assigned by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. This prehistorian will probably never forget the first time he went into the cave in southern Ardèche on the 29th of December, 1994.
“The Culture Ministry asked me to survey the cave that Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel, and Christian Hillaire had discovered a few days earlier. I didn’t know what I would find. I was told that there were several dozen rhinoceroses. At that time, in all of Europe, there were less than 20 known rhinoceroses. I was rather sceptical . . .
When I went down into the vault with the caving ladder, I was completely surprised by how white, sparkling, beautiful, and fresh it was. I thought to myself: This looks like a pristine cave! And I just went from marvel to marvel. The most emotional part was when I saw the horse panel. The aesthetic quality of the drawings captivated me and moved me to tears. I thought that it was a new Lascaux cave. I couldn’t imagine that these exceptional paintings were twice as old. This cave is really wonderful.”

Jean Clottes surveyed the cave a few days after its discovery. He directed the scientific research of the Ardèche cavity from 1998 to 2006.