Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cave paintings at Lascaux

John Carey's Eyewitness to History is still in print. I was fascinated by it years ago when I read the firsthand accounts of important events that it contains. It does not include the discovery of the cave paintings in Lascaux, France, but I have found a pretty good account:
On September 8, 1940, Marcel went on a treasure hunt. For years, people had talked about a secret underground passage in the countryside around their French village. They said that the passage led to hidden treasure. The French teenager thought he had found the passage when he discovered the opening to a long vertical shaft. Four days later, on September 12, Marcel and three of his friends returned to explore it. This time, Marcel brought an oil lamp to light the way. One after another, the boys wriggled down the long passageway. Finally, they tumbled into a huge cavern, and Marcel held up the lamp. By its flickering light, they noticed a high passage. The friends entered the passage, and Marcel shone the light on its walls. What the French teenagers saw amazed them. Herds of horses, oxen, and deer stampeded across the curving cave wall. The colorful animals seemed to leap off the walls. Excitedly, the teenagers ran through the cave and found room after room of paintings. They had found the real treasure of Lascaux.

The cave paintings discovered by the teenagers - Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agnel, and Simon Coencas - are estimated to be 16,000 years old. Lascaux is unique for the exceptionally realistic portrayal of the animals and for the large size of some of the paintings: one of the aurochs in the Cave of the Bulls is 17' wide - the biggest animal image ever found in a Stone Age cave. The public was allowed access from after World War II to 1963, by which time the 2,000 paintings had suffered from the carbon dioxide of 1,200 visitors a day. A nearby replica of two of the galleries was opened in 1983 and The Cave of Lascaux website is beautiful, but now the cave is beset by fungus and black mold. Since January 2008, not even scientists are allowed access.

1 comment:

  1. Nice painting. The awe-inspiring paintings are also described as ‘the antediluvian Sistine Chapel’.1200 visitors daily visit the cave. The initial climatic situation had been re-build and maintained with the assistance of a fully-automated system. The original caves were made in 1980 called as Lascaux II. The Great Hall of the Bulls with its vast-spanning murals comprises of animals like horses, stags and bulls. you can find beautiful art form based on the conventional ancient animal premise inclusive of bison, stag, ibexes. For more details refer Caves Of Lascaux


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