Jean-Michel Geneste

Chief of Scientific Studies
Lascaux and Chauvet Caves

Former Chief Curator of the Lascaux Caves for over 20 years of service, Jean-Michel Geneste is currently the Chief of Scientific Studies of the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves. He was in France Director of the National Centre of Prehistory, which is the only laboratory in France exclusively dedicated to the scientific study and conservation of rock art sites.

Primary Recipient Awards

French Scholars Lecture Series, Jean-Michel Geneste, 2015

Jean-Michel Geneste

Lecture: "The Chauvet Cave: One of the Oldest European Paleolithic caves"

Over 36,000 years ago, in Aurignacian culture, our ancestors painted and engraved images of their life onto the rocky surfaces of their natural environment. These figurative representations, known today as Rock Art, served as the earliest form of communication, allowing Man to share his ideas and observations of the world and existence within it. Inside those caves and underneath those rock shelters remain indescribable traces of the human spirit that offer a glimpse of the artistic, technological and spiritual powers of mankind. The sheer magnitude of the Rock Art caves and shelters, the length of the corridors and the volumes of paintings and engravings inscribed on the walls all play a significant role in the telling of the narrative that seems to have been purposely crafted with the intent of someday being discovered by future generations. By using the caves and rock shelters as the canvas for his art, Man ensured their preservation and protection.

Chauvet cave is very specific by its unbelievable components: red and charcoal drawings, engravings, hand stencils but also a lot of archaeological residues: floor organization of stones, the presence of numerous cave bears skeletons. But because of their remote locations and the extreme fragility of the Rock Art sites themselves, only a number of select researchers and archaeologists have ever seen these historic works first-hand. They are not, or have very rarely been, open to the public, however, nowhere else in the world we try to develop exhibitions and facsimile of the main rock art sites; the Chauvet cave one will open on 2015.

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