culture occupied a vast geographic range, with concentrations in
the High-Danube region of Germany, in Austria, in the Moravian region
of Slovakia, and in the Santander region of Spain. In France, Aurignacian
peoples occupied small valleys in the Dordogne region (around Les
Eyzies-de-Tayac), and in the piedmonts of the Pyrenean mountains.
Other than the cave of Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc, the presence of the Aurignacian
culture is very discrete in the Ardèche region. In the gorges
of the Ardèche River, a few Aurignacian flint artifacts have
been found in the cave of Figuier (Saint-Martin-d'Ardèche)
and the small rock-shelter of Les Pêcheurs (Casteljau). In
the neighboring department of the Gard, Aurignacian artifacts have
been found at the cave of Ouilins, and especially at the site of
Esquicho-Crapaou (Sainte-Anastasie), which has been dated to 34,000
to 32,000 BP.
Aurignacian is distinguished from preceding cultures by several
innovations in flint knapping techniques, a diversification of tool
types, and significant innovations in other domains. Flint tools
are now made on blades rather than flakes. The tool types are more
standardized and include end-scrapers for preparing animal skins,
and burins for working wood and engraving. Projectile points for
hunting were made from antler, bone and ivory. Aurignacian hunters
did not use spearthrowers
(atatls) or the bow and arrow. No eyed needles have been found,
so their clothes may have been less finely made than in more recent
Among the significant innovations of the Aurignacians is the development
of body ornamentation, including pierced shells and teeth, carved
bone pendants, bracelets, and ivory beads.
Meanwhile, the sudden explosion of monumental art, brilliantly demonstrated
by the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc cave, is certainly among the most significant
inventions of this culture.