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There are five caves located along the banks of the Charente river between Charroux and Civray. These were occupied in the Magdalenian period which was from about 15,000BC to 7,000 BC .

The time estimates vary depending on what article you read but give or take a couple of thousand years, this is correct. The Magdalenian period was a bit on the cold side with ice sheets covering all of northern Europe and the Alps and Pyrenees also being quite knee-deep in ice and snow. So the people were sort of sandwiched between two very inhospitable habitats. Due to the cold Reindeer were common and the people were hunters and captured the Reindeer for food and rather similar to people from Lapland today they used all the parts for various things, clothing, spear heads, needles, fat for lamps etc. This period is also known as the Reindeer period.

These caves were first investigated by Andre Brouillet and it was in 1834 that two reindeer bones were discovered with drawings scratched onto them. These are thought to be examples of some of the earliest forms of art produced by man. Certainly the representations are quite crude and not up to the standard of other cave paintings from this period. One bone shows a head of what could be a bear. This bone also has a hole through it suggesting that the bone was hung up as a sort of art display or maybe something to worship. The other bone has two animals on it and these could be reindeer. These bones are now in the museum in Civray and there is a book which contains drawings of them.

Chauvet horses 31,000 BC

I am not sure how these claims stack up because there are examples of more sophisticated paintings which are estimated to have come from a much earlier period. Such as the paintings in the Chauvet Cave in the Ardeche which is estimated at 31,000 BC. If you are an expert on this subject please let me know what you think. If you are not then just marvel at the fact that it was a very very long time ago.

You can visit the caves, they have metal grills across the front now to prevent access but you can still look in an imagine what life was like. There are several information boards (which could do with a clean) to tell you about the life of these early Homo sapiens.

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The other famous caves with paintings is Lascaux Caves