About Dr. Jean Clottes

TAC Festival 2014 Keynote Speaker


Jean Clottes is an acknowledged world leader in the study of rock art. He was born in the French Pyrenees in 1933 and studied at Toulouse University, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1975. He was appointed Director of Prehistoric Antiquities for Midi-Pyrénées in 1971. This vast area (bigger than Switzerland) is one of the richest and most famous in France for prehistoric studies and in particular for prehistoric painted cave art. He led excavations on Early Paleolithic, Upper Paleolithic, and several Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in the region. In 1992, he was appointed General Inspector for Archaeology at the French Ministry of Culture and in 1993 became Scientific Advisor at the same Ministry for prehistoric rock art, a position he held until retiring in 1999.


Dr. Clottes is a member of numerous French and international archaeological councils, commissions and societies and is a former President and currently Honorary President of the Société Préhistorique Française. He has organized a number of national and international conferences on prehistoric art and has taught at Toulouse University and as a visiting professor at UC Berkeley. He has given many public lectures on rock art in France and in other countries (Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, England, India, Italy, Germany, Kenya, Luxemburg, Morocco, Namibia, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA). He is widely known for his research and management work at spectacular Chauvet Cave, the site of the oldest known European cave art. He is the editor of the International Newsletter on Rock Art (distributed to 108 countries) and has published over 450 scientific articles and written or edited 30 books. Among works authored in recent years is Cave Art (2008), published in London by Phaidon Press.


The American Rock Art Research Association awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. He was a principal adviser for film-maker Werner Herzog in his 2010 production of the acclaimed 3D documentary about Chauvet Cave, Cave of Forgotten Dreams. He is particularly interested in all aspects of rock art, including its meaning and age as well as its interpretation for the public.