The European Centre for Prehistoric Research (CERP) in Vallon Pont d’Arc (Ardèche, France) is an non-profit association which the aim is "for the development and valorisation of research in prehistory".
On June 3, 1995, at the request of the Vallon Pont d’Arc municipality, six months after the discovery of the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc Cave, the French Natural History Museum organised the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc Cave exhibition entitled “A Prehistoric Sanctuary and Palaeolithic Art in the Ardèche River Gorges" in the heart of the village.
To meet demand from the general public, schools and tourists, it was essential to create an organization with all the necessary skills. The European Centre for Prehistoric Research, a non-profit association dedicated to the development and the valorisation of research in Prehistory, opened in 1998. It is supported by Conventions with the town of Vallon Pont d’Arc (for which it organises the Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc exhibition, the CREPS Rhône-Alpes and the Ardèche General Council. Currently the CERP employs 4 people, all qualified in Prehistory and approved by the French Ministry for Education. They operate an educational service, a cultural service and teach Prehistory all year round.
The centre’s many activities and objectives include :
Management of the permanent Chauvet-Pont d’Arc Cave exhibition for Vallon Pont d’Arc. UNESCO has been asked to classify the cave and its surrounding area as a world heritage site.
Information for schools
Organization of teaching workshops for schools (all year round, upon request). Discovery Classes. Circuits.
- Organization of scientific and cultural events during the Summer (“Prehistory Days” for the general public…).
- The design and presentation of temporary, travelling, exhibitions such as "The Ardèche in Prehistoric Times".
Participation in interdisciplinary research programmes on sites in the region and abroad and conferences.
Teaching and Training
Lectures on Prehistory and Heritage Valorisation (at the GRETA and other local structures). Student hosting.
The growing interest in our prehistoric heritage can be seen in the increase in requests for CERP courses. Over the last few years the Ardèche has become a “must” cultural centre.
Because of its teaching programmes and its experts in Prehistory the CERP has become the focal point for scientists, schools and the general public.
Permanent exhibition: "The Chauvet-Pont d’Arc Cave" 36,000 years ago
"… The "Chauvet-Pont d’Arc Cave" exhibition, open to the general public, shows copies of the famous cave paintings and engravings. The cave has applied for recognition as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Discovered on December 18, 1994 by three speleologists from the Ardèche (Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel and Christian Hilaire). It is the oldest known decorated prehistoric cavity in the world (32 000 years old). Its exceptional state of conservation and archaeological interest require its protection and justify the fact that it is closed to the public.
The exhibition helps visitors to understand the way of life and environment of the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave artists before they see the amazing wall paintings in photographs and a 25 minute film.
Under the direction of Professor Henry de Lumley, the exhibition was designed and installed by the French Natural History Museum.
It presents slide shows, photos, mounted animals, archaeological objects and a world exclusive - the cave filmed by the 3 discoverers.