Research in the cave
Since 1998, a multidisciplinary team have been carrying out research in the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave. In 1996, the Ministry of Culture and Communication opened an international tender to choose the scientific team who would study the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc Cave, using a procedure normally reserved for historical archaeological sites. This was the first time it had been used for a Palaeolithic cave art site. The panel of nine members was composed of archaeologists from the France's National Archaeological Research Council, and to foreign professors: one German and one Spanish.
The research team chosen in 1996 was the team brought together by Jean Clottes. He led them until 2002, when Jean-Michel Geneste took over. The team's research work began in 1998, and is still ongoing.
From the outset, the research prioritised preventive preservation of this exceptional but very fragile site.
The exceptional preservation of the floors, and the human and animal traces and remains require preservation, so that they can be kept in this state, leaving a cave intact for our successors. New, non-invasive research methods will allow the current work to be continued in the future. The research is divided into two annual campaigns, each lasting fifteen days to three weeks: one in spring and the other in autumn. These dates were chosen based on work carried out by the CNRS's Moulis underground laboratory on the climactic system of the cave, and on the times of year when it will tolerate human presence well. The work relies on being able to access the walls and remains or traces on floor, without endangering the integrity of the virgin soils. The scientific work is carried out from walkways, primarily following the initial route taken by those who discovered the cave. Where areas require further research, temporary walkways are installed, after analysing their potential impact on the cave. Preservation is one of the team's priorities, and has led to the development of new data methods and approaches to studying a decorated cave.