Radiocarbon dating of ancient rock paintings

The project has taken Bonneau and her colleagues more than seven years to complete.

She got involved in 2010, when she happened across study co-researcher David Pearce, an associate professor at the University of the Witwatersrand's Rock Art Research Institute in South Africa.

AFPTV provides a rare filmed glimpse inside the cave, which is closed to the public.

(AFP) The Chauvet Cave, a vast Paleolithic cave dating back more than 36,000 years ago, was selected on Sunday as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A monochrome cave painting is a picture made with only one colour (usually black) - see, for instance, the monochrome images at Chauvet.

• How did Prehistoric Artists Obtain their Paint Colours?

• Did Stone Age Painters Make Preliminary Sketches?

The researchers then used a novel technique to isolate the paint fragments before dating them, as well as 13 other fragments from rock art sites across southern Africa, including in Lesotho and South Africa.

[See Photos of Ancient Rock Art from Botswana and other Southern African Countries] The new method "has given us the first really solid dates for the antiquity of surviving rock shelter art in southern Africa," said lead study researcher Adelphine Bonneau, a postdoctoral researcher of archaeology at Lux Laboratory at the University of Québec in Montréal.

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