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Gallery: Europe's Oldest Rock Art

Decorated Rocks

Abri Castanet, the site of Europe's oldest rock carvings.

(Image credit: Raphaëlle Bourrillon)

The east side of the Vallon de Castel-Merle with Abri Blanchard in the distance and Abri Castanet to the immediate right. Abri Castanet is the site of what seem to be the oldest rock carvings in Europe.

Ancient Carving

A carved vulva found at Abri Castanet

(Image credit: Raphaëlle Bourrillon)

A female sex organ carved in bas-relief at Abri Castanet

Partial Horse

Partial horse drawing at Abri Castanet.

(Image credit: Raphaëlle Bourrillon)

A partial drawing of a horse outlined in black and painted red at Abri Castanet in France.

Vulva Carving

A carved vulva found at Abri Castanet

(Image credit: Raphaëlle Bourrillon)

A carved image of a vulva from Abri Castanet.

Abri Castanet Vulva

A vulva carving at Abri Castanet

(Image credit: Raphaëlle Bourrillon)

Images of female genitalia predominate at Abri Castanet.

Female Genitalia Carving

A vulva carving at Abri Castanet

(Image credit: Raphaëlle Bourrillon)

A vulva carving associated with other, unidentifiable carvings.

Unidentifiable Animal

An animal drawing at Abri Castanet

(Image credit: Raphaëlle Bourrillon)

Researchers aren't sure what animal an ancient artist was trying to draw - it could be a bison, or perhaps a horse.

Vulva Carving

A vulva carving at Abri Castanet

(Image credit: Raphaëlle Bourrillon)

One of the many vulva carvings at Abri Castanet, France.

Ancient Firepit

A firepit at Abri Castanet

(Image credit: Raphaëlle Bourrillon)

The excavation of an ancient firepit at Abri Castanet. The carvings were done on the ceiling of a rock shelter that collapsed soon after.

Fireplaces

Fireplace at Abri Castanet

(Image credit: Raphaëlle Bourrillon)

Two firepits at Abri Castanet.

Castanet Excavation

Abri Castanet, the site of Europe's oldest rock carvings.

(Image credit: Raphaëlle Bourrillon)

A view of the excavation site at Castanet. The central sector has not yet been excavated, while the southern sector has been explored since 1995.