Beyond the southern French Alps sits the highest-elevation prehistoric art ever found.
Known as Abri Faravel, the prehistoric rock shelter was discovered by chance in 2010, revealing paintings that decorated the ceiling and parallel lines that appeared like two animals facing one another.
Previous excavations of the Abri Faravel, which is located 2,133 meters (7,000 feet) above sea level, indicated signs of human activity beginning in the Mesolithic period (about 10,000 B.C. and 5,000 B.C.) and continuing into the Middle Ages.
Now, in order to study this ancient work of wonder, a team of archaeologists from the University of York scaled the mountain range and took ground-breaking scans of the rock shelter.
Led by archaeologist Kevin Walsh, the team of experts set up a contraption of car batteries and white-light scanners to power lasers in a complex operation.
After producing virtual models of the landscape, Walsh and his colleagues published the digital scans in the online journal Internet Archaeology.
"These paintings have survived for over two millennia, possibly four," said Walsh.
Walsh said their work is the only example of virtual models and a scan of the art done at such a high altitude in the Alps. It's also most likely the highest virtual model of an archaeological site in Europe.
The digital scans allow anyone to steer through a virtual 3D model of the highland where Abri Faravel is located. Anyone can also zoom in on the rock paintings.
For instance, thanks to the 3D model, viewers will see that the ceiling paintings are only observable under the rock hanging and not from the exterior of the rock shelter.
The research on Abri Faravel is part of a wider project between the Centre Camille Jullian and the University of York. The goal of the project is to investigate the development of human activity in the Southern Alps over the last 8,000 years.
So far, the long-running study has found the excavation of stone animal enclosures and human dwellings, all of which are considered as some of the most complex high-elevation structures from the Bronze Age.
Aside from the paintings, other artifacts from the rock shelter also include Neolithic and Mesolithic flint tools, a hand-thrown pottery from the Iron Age, a Roman fibula and some metalwork from the medieval period.