we share and preserve humanity's oldest stories

The Lion Panel of Chauvet, France

The Ancient Art Archive helps people explore and preserve humanity's oldest stories

National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez began the archive after a lengthy story on why humans became artists. 

"Standing in front of 36,000 year old cave paintings in France I felt time collapse and the artist speak straight to me across an unimaginable gulf of time. The experience changed me. I started the Archive not just to preserve those ancient sites and our common cultural heritage but to share them with everyone."

Photography allows us to portray the sites in a way that transmits what it is like to stand before them. The 3d modeling lets us perfectly preserve the artwork as it appears today ensuring that scientific study and enjoyment of humanity's oldest stories can go on.


26,000 year old fingertraced horses, France

"What the oldest art represents is the story of mankind, told in the first person."

Location and age of the earliest art sites closely mirror what we know of the first human migrations. Nearly the first thing that humans do in a new landscape is create art. Why do we do this? Maybe to make the land sacred, to make it our own. In a time before written language those pictures drawn on rocks and cave walls were our stories. What the oldest art represents is the story of mankind, told in the first person.

Board of Directors

Stephen Alvarez - Photographer and Filmmaker

Jan Simek - President Emeritus University of Tennessee, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology University of Tennessee

Sarah Lowe -Member, Frost Brown Todd LLC

Gregory Crouch -Author


Stephen Alvarez -President

Greg Crouch -Treasurer

Sarah Lowe -Secretary 


Board of Advisors

Jan Simek, PhD -Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, University of Tennessee

Chistoper Henshilwood, PhD -Professor University of Bergen, Norway, Professor University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Dr. Joe MacInnis, CM -Order of Canada, Toronto, Canada

Van Ling, -Visual Effects Supervisor, Titanic