Where on Wednesday: Nine - Lascaux Grotto Montignac, France

The Lascaux cave, situated near Montignac, France contains one of the most remarkable collections of prehistoric cave paintings and carvings ever found.

Surprisingly the grotto was only discovered relatively recently considering its long history, when a group of teenagers followed after their dog along a narrow entrance into the cavern back in 1940 and has been studied ever since as archaeologists try and unlock its secrets.

Dating back some 15,000-17,000 years the prehistoric cave paintings offer a window to the past, our past, and offers an insight into the lives of the men and women who gathered in this cave complex thousands of years ago.

The paintings, some 600 of them, depict mainly animals and are one of the finest collection of paintings from the Upper-Paleolithic period to be found on the planet. They are amazingly detailed and have been crafted with obvious care and skill. I find myself wondering who they were, these ancient folk, and what were their lives like - Certainly vastly different to ours now.

French archaeologist Henri-Édouard-Prosper Breuil, was the first to study the paintings, and about 1,500 engravings, and he had his work cut out for him with the cavern being 66 feet wide and 16 high, all covered with the artworks. The animals depicted number horses, deer and bovines plus what could only be mythical creatures, possibly hinting at religious or superstitious beliefs, deity's maybe. src

There is only one human-shaped figure, a man with a bird-head and an obvious hard-on; A guy playing dress-ups with his wife or a representation of some form of deity the cave-folk worshipped? A shaman possibly.

Archaeologists cannot be certain, however it is surmised that the cave was used as a central location for religious rites and a gathering place for hunting parties, and possibly subsequent feasts afterwards, over a very long period of time. It makes sense for such a cave to be utilised in this way as it would have provided excellent shelter from the elements and protection from wild animals or other humans. I'd love to say T-rex here, but everyone knows the dinos were gone by then.

In 1948 the grotto was opened for public viewing however the artificial lights used to illuminate the paintings began to fade the colours, obviously preserved in the cave which received little to no light over thousands of years. An algae had also begun to grow over the paintings and so in 1963 the Lascaux grotto was closed to the public. It's a shame of course as I would dearly love to visit however a replica is available to view - Not as cool as the real thing, but interesting nonetheless.See it here

We like to think we are the masters of our world, that we are the best evolution of humanity, but time changes most things as our friends who painted and carved the Lascaux grotto found out.

Did they feel as invincible, as endless, as it seems humanity feels these days? I'm not sure. Their world would have been vastly different to ours though and my belief is that they were more in-tune with it; I think they understood the natural world better, lived more in-sync with it than we do. We are probably more disconnected with the world, and each other, than ever before and I wonder what might be left of our existence for someone to find in 17,000 years. What will those people think of us?

Did our long-dead ancestors gather at this cave to perform religious rites, sacrifice or to worship their deity(s) or was it a simple meeting spot for hunting parties? We'll never know. The paintings they left behind must have had some form of meaning to them though and the artists who created them had some obvious skill considering the crude materials they would have had at their disposal. Fascinating.

Anyway, that's where I'd rather be and what I'd rather be doing right now. If you want to join in on #whereonwednesday just tag it in your post, on a Wednesday and away you go. It's not a challenge or anything dumb like that, neither do you get anything for it. It's just a chance to post your thoughts and maybe a picture or two.

Design and create your ideal life, don't live it by default and aim small, miss small.
Discord: @galenkp#9209 🇦🇺

Comments 9

It is a pity about not being able to see the real thing but they’d need to use much dimmer lights or lit everyone out with torches or something less powerful. Those kinds of paintings are probably better viewed in atmospheric lighting than full on anyway.

They would definitely have been more in tune (unless they had a technological society that has managed to completely vanish from the fossil record, according to some thought experiment I read ages ago this is apparently a possibility? 🤔). I had some fun the other day joking with some friends who were complaining about how a day last week was the hottest winter day on record or something and I said it’s spring. One of them said not for another few days it isn’t. I said it’s been spring for at least the last two weeks (maybe, we seem to have six seasons here and apparently the Aborigines mark six but I can’t remember their names) according to the plants and the birds and that the seasons didn’t care about our stupid nonsensical calendar 🤣

Did you go see the replica?

11.09.2019 09:50

Unfortunately I haven't been there, time didn't permit last time although we intend to do so. I'm more keen to see the real thing as a replica seems a little Disney Land for my liking although at a pinch I'd accept it, just to say I've seen it.

Yes, human's like to dictate to the planet what season it is, but nature often has other ideas...And yet, I can't help but think that someday human's will tip the scales their way and the planet will say, enough. I'll probably not be around to see it fortunately, but someone might...And then maybe they'll wish humanity made some changes previously.

11.09.2019 10:01

Humans have an overinflated sense of self-importance XD

12.09.2019 03:19

I actually think it paints a sad picture in how we as humans have really changed the world as we have overtaken other animals and plant life for our own wants. Some call it evolution but I often doubt that is the right name.

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11.09.2019 11:47

Yes, I tend to agree. We think we are so cleaver, shaping things into the image of what we would like and yet something has to give at some point right? Is it us or the planet that breaks first...Or will one herald the other bring both down.

11.09.2019 11:49

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11.09.2019 20:43

Sounds like a cool place.

Talking about future peoples finding things we have left, I recall reading a story about a future historian/archaeologist digging up a buried motel and finding toilet seats. They suspected they were used for some religious ritual and that people wore them around their necks.

I can not remember what the name was, or where I read it, but it was an interesting read.

11.09.2019 21:10

That sounds about right. It's doubtful if they'd find much about us...It's all digital which can't really be dug up and interpreted 17,000 years later right? Imagine some sort of event, the one that ended the dinosaurs and the world is virtually wiped clean...There wouldn't be much of us to find in the future I think...A few skeletal remains with big boobs, butts and lips maybe. :)

12.09.2019 00:33