Colour is an essential element in the art the Palaeolithic painters practised in the cave. On the scale of the cave as a whole, the Aurignacians expressed their conception of its physical division into two parts – from the Entrance to the Sill and from the Sill to the End – essentially through using the colour red in the first part (only seven black animals: two felines, three mammoths, one bovine and one indeterminate) and the colour black in the deeper part. On the scale of the panels, it is possible to identify the different preparations of the painting materials and a variety of application techniques.

While the black pigment is exclusively unadulterated charcoal, the red colour was applied sometimes as a crayon and sometimes as paint. The animal figures are generally drawn with the aid of nodules of haematite and the signs painted using a preparation of a mixture of ochre powder and water. The shades used are varied and probably reveal a variety of sources of supply. Deposits of ochre exist in the nearby environment, but also inside the cave itself. Physical and colorimetric analyses have been carried out to determine the origin of the raw materials and the methods for preparing and applying the paint.

Unlike the works carried out in charcoal, the red paint is not directly datable as it does not contain any organic materials. We must instead carry out comparisons, analyses of the superimpositions and taphonomic processes in order to fit these figures into the chronological framework put in place by carbon-14 dating. At present, we can say that when the red paint is not used to complete an animal figure (such as the spitting rhinoceros in the End Chamber, for example), its use appears to be relatively early.

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