Grotte de Rouffignac

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Site type:
Site function:
Habitation site, Decor cave
45, 0.98

The Rouffignac cave, in the French commune of Rouffignac-Saint-Cernin-de-Reilhac in the Dordogne département, contains over 250 engravings and cave paintings dating back to the Upper Paleolithic. In conjunction with other caves and abris of the Vézère valley, the Rouffignac cave was classified a Monument historique in 1957 and a World Heritage Site in 1979 by UNESCO as part of the Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley.

Because of the general lack of artifacts (a single blade was found so far) and occupation traces, the Rouffignac cave could not be dated directly so far. According to André Leroi-Gourhan the style of the representations can be attributed to his style IV and belong therefore into the Middle Magdalenian, about 13,000 years BP.

Reconnaissance excavations in front of the entry of the cave found traces of human occupations (several fireplaces, animal bones and stone tools) dating back to the Mesolithic (Tardenoisian and Sauveterrian) and to the Neolithic. Some Iron Age remains capped the deposits. Therefore, mesolithic hunters must have had their encampment in front of the cave from about 9,200 to 7,800 years BP. In the Sauveterrian level, geometrically shaped microliths were found, the so-called Rouffignac heads. The neolithic and Iron Age levels yielded remnants of burials.