Sculpted Palaeolithic shelters are a specific type of archaeological site, which combine the constraints of studying rock art with those of examining a layered occupation site. Their protection and study form part of a specific national institutional framework.
Historic Monument listing
Under the terms of the Act of 30 March 1887, decorated shelters are considered to be immovable assets and their legal protection is governed by the Historic Monument Act of 31 December 1913.
The time between discovery and listing as historical monuments varies: the Cap Blanc shelter was discovered in 1909 and listed in 1926; the Reverdit Shelter was discovered in 1923 and listed in 1924, Chaire-à-Calvin was discovered in 1927 and listed in 1986, and Roc-aux-Sorciers was discovered in 1947 and listed in 1955. Any work, alterations or restorations to listed monuments requires permission from the prefect of the region, operating on behalf of the Minister of Culture and Communication. The vicinity of a site is also protected, up to a 500-metre radius.
Study and archaeological research
Archaeological excavations are subject to government control (Heritage Code). Planned excavations (dependent on research programs) are examined by interregional archaeological research commissions (CIRAs). Authorization is then granted by the Minister or the prefect. Rescue archaeology operations are proposed when outdoor works are planned. Proposals for these are also considered by the CIRAs.
These interventions can be of various types: wall mapping, prospection, environmental assessments, even excavation if it is deemed essential, taking care to preserve the site for future generations.