World Bulletin / News Desk
Prehistoric cave in southern France containing the earliest known figurative drawings won a World Heritage status granted by UN cultural agency UNESCO on Sunday.
Delegates at UNESCO's World Heritage Committee voted to grant the status to the Grotte Chauvet at a gathering in Doha, where they are considering cultural and natural wonders for inclusion on the UN list.
The cave in the Ardeche region discovery in 1994, contains more than 1,000 drawings dating back some 36,000 years to what is believed to be the first human culture in Europe.
"I had the chance, I should say the privilege, to visit the cave... and I was literally stunned by what I saw, which revolutionises our views of our origins," France's envoy to UNESCO Philippe Lalliot said after the vote.
A French lawmaker for the Ardeche, Pascal Terrasse, described the cave as "a first cultural act".
"This artist has now been recognised," Terrasse said. "May he forgive us for waiting 36,000 years to recognise his work."
UNESCO said the Grotte Chauvet "contains the earliest and best-preserved expressions of artistic creation of the Aurignacian people, which are also the earliest known figurative drawings in the world," UNESCO said.
"The large number of over 1,000 drawings covering over 8,500 square metres (90,000 square feet), as well as their high artistic and aesthetic quality, make Grotte Chauvet an exceptional testimony of prehistoric cave art."
After 23,000 years three French cave experts rediscovered the cave in 1994 and almost immediately declared a protected heritage site in France.
"Its state of preservation and authenticity is exceptional as a result of its concealment over 23 millennia," UNESCO said.
The painted images include representations of human hands and of dozens of animals, including mammoth, wild cats, rhinos, bison, bears and aurochs. More discoveries are to be made as they continue to explore the remote parts of the cave.
Authorities are building a full-scale replica of the site nearby, which is expected to open in the spring of 2015 because the actual cave is closed to the public.
The Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization oversees the system of granting coveted World Heritage Site status to important cultural and natural sites.
Obtaining the status for sites is a point of pride for many nations and can boost tourism, however it comes with strict conservation rules.Last Mod: 23 Haziran 2014, 13:29