12 september 1940, four teenagers: Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Georges
Agniel and Simon Coencas, played the adventurers during
their free time. Equiped with a rudimentary material, they go
down into a crack and get to,
with difficulty, a big room where they perceive
paintings. Then they get to the bottom of a hole
which will prove to be the famous Well of Lascaux. Aware
the importance of their discovery, they decide to inform,
September 18th, 1940, Leon Laval a retired schoolmaster
passionately fond of history, who goes to the place
the scene the next day.
abbots Breuil and Bouyssonie, accompanied with doctor
Cheynier and with D.Peyrony, visit the cave and at once
believe it dates from
to the superior Palaeolithic age. From 27 December,
preliminary reports lead, , to a
fast classification of the site as the ancient memorial.
In 1947, rehabilitation of the cave was
done. The site was
opened to the public on 13 July 1948 with
Marcel Ravidat and Jacques Marsal as guide.
very well known. After about fifteen years of exploitation,
we noticed that the visit of hundreds of thousand
persons, had changed the atmospheric balance
and the degree of humidity of the cave. Small
green seaweeds began to spread all over the walls, and
the rock started deterrorarety.
On 20 April 1963, the cave was
closed to the public, André
Malraux, Minister of the Cultural affairs orders that
the cave should be closed in order to preserve the fresco
was restored by a team of scientists for
several years. Today, its visit is authorized
only to the researchers and the specialists.
Owing to the collapse of the cave porch, the climate of the cave remained very
homogeneous, which allowed a perfect preservation
of the paintings. These works are traditionally
attributed to the ancient magdalénien (These paintings are estimated to be 17 000
years old), a period when the climate
was relatively mild, as wich were predomined painted the presence
of deers on walls shows it.
1900 paintings have been
listed, representing 600 animals. The animals are deers,
bears, aurochs and horses. Reindeers are
strangely absent, while we think that they represented
90 % of the hunting of the prehistoric men.
paintings marry the relief of the cavity and are executed with
some iron oxide and some manganese oxide.
much is said about the lighting used
by those people who painted in caves. In fact ,they are
said to have made small stone bowls ordishes which they
with a flammable product in which a
wick was placed. We found it relics of their bowls almost
everywhere in the Lascaux cave. Contrary to most
of the other neighbouring caves, Lascaux contained
many relics which allow to
understand the techniques used as well as ways
of the lifestyle of those who passed on to us the fruit of their creativity.
| The average size of
the paintings is close to 60 cms, but we find some
even more spectacular paintings, like the
auroch big painted on the ceiling, in real measuring 5m50. We can thus assert, with the remains found
on the ground (holes in the wall 2
meters deep the ground, as well as the remains of oak) that these works
required the building of scaffolds, to
reach such heights.
To make up for the
damage done to the public the closure of the Lascaux
cave, the realization of a reproduction was
soon envisaged. Lascaux
II project began in 1972 supervised by D.Debaye,
representing the department of the Dordogne, and various
administrations involted. It was a genuine copy of
but only the Rotonde and its
axial Diverticule were reproduced, which represents 90 % of the
The cave opened to the public
in 1983. Situated, in a abandoned quarry ,
near the original site, it was built in
a stiff shell in the forms and in the real dimensions
of the initial cave. The sculptor René Sanson was
then able to dress the shell by reproducing wall faithfully. Then the painter Monique Peytral had
to decorate the shell,
using a similar technique and
working with a palette composed of the same colouring agents (red ochre
and manganese oxide resulting from the deposit close
to Régourdou) as the painted frescoes. It needed 10
is worth seeing :
Before getting into
the cave, presentation let's the Lascaux
Besides, the use of perspective,
said "twisted", gives even more the illusion
of reality and movement (for example, head or
body in profile and horns three-quarters-length born). One of the
bulls is more than 5 metres high.
Then access to the Room
of the Tauruses or Rotonde. First of all we find an animal
looking like a unicorn, then a herd
of magnificent black bulls (in fact of aurochs).
They almost seem to be alive. Indeed, the artists
of the prehistory took advantage of the uneveness of
the rock, every bump or the harshness to
emphasize some limbs of an animal. And
so a very round bump can represent a very plump paunch
or a back.
After the room of
bulls, you get into narrow Diverticule
Axial where there
are real compositions, such as
the cow which jumps, the falling horse and the frescs of the
small horses. Finally there is, a whole series of graphics
(parallels, rectangles, punctuation, sort of
harpoon, etc.) always raise problems of interpretation
to the researchers.
The prehistorians have
given various interpretaions of this parietal
art. Numerous theories were meaning: magic of
the hunt, totémisme, shamanism … Nobody revealed the deep sense
works left by our ancestors. Today, Chantal
Jègues-Wolkiewiez, an independent French researcher, has ventured a
new hypothesis. For her, the Lascaux frescoes represent an
astronomical chart. The sky which the first
humanity painters observed 10 000 years ago. But,
this theory is harshly criticized by
all the prehistorians. As is worth keeping
an eye on...
more than 2000 entrances(entries) a day to the Lascaux II
cave are allowed. Buy your tickets very early in
the tourism season. From Easter to the end of September,
the box office is outside the tourist information office of Montignac, under arches, it's open from 9 am till 7 pm, visit every 10mn till
8:30 pm, off
season tickets are sold directly on the spot (road signs since Montignac).
To see the map:
of the prehistoric everyday life scenes are also
Some other reproductions of paintings (frescoes of deers, leaned bisons and
black cow of the Nave as well as the scene of the Well are exposed in the park of Thot,
4,5 miles southwest of Montignac (Tonac). You will find in Thot all the explanations
concerning the Lascaux II
construction and will also learn
to cut the flint as our ancestors did.
forget to visit
the wildlife park where
alive animals at the time of the superior Palaeolithic can
A Very instructive site,
to visit with one's family.