Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Trip to Lascaux

Actually, its Lascaux II... the original cave has been closed to the public since 1963.  Over 11 years between 1972 and 1983 an exact replica of two of the main galleries of Lascaux was created a couple hundred metres away from the main cave.  Lascaux is one of the smaller caves containing paintings, but its one of the most spectacular.  Its one of very few caves that has polychromatic art, in fact, one of the figures uses 12 colours.  Again, photos aren't allowed inside Lascaux so I don't have photos of the cave are, but you can experience Lascaux's incredible virtual tour here.

The drive from Rouffignac Cave to Lascaux is beautiful. 

The site is on a wooded slope.  It reminded me of every Provincial campground I've ever visited.
The paintings in the cave are 17,000 years old.

Like all of the sites we visited, the interpreter was fantastic.  he didn't just have a few facts memorized, he was passionate about the site.  He stressed that the paintings at Lascaux were not left by cavemen, but by artists building on 15,000 years of artistic tradition and experience.

The entrance to the replica cave.  The million or so visitors to the actual cave between its discovery in 1940 and its closure in 1963 caused severe, although unintentional, environmental damage to the interior of the cave and the paintings.  The replica cave was a very good compromise.  The placement of the painted figures on the contours of the cave walls is a very important part of understanding and appreciating them.  Seeing them on a flat surface doesn't do them justice, they were meant to be experienced in three dimensions.
Coming out into the daylight again.

Most of the animals on my cave art tattoo are from Lascaux.  Here I am standing in front of a sign at the site.
Of course, I realized too late that its actually a sign to the Lascaux toilets.  What chance do I have of understanding Upper Paleolithic art?  I can't even  interpret pictographs from the past decade correctly.  Sigh.
 Photo Credits: 
1, 8, 9: Lori White
2-7: Tim Rast

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