Lascaux, the site one of the most critical archaeological discoveries of the 20th Century has long been the world’s top pre-historic tourist attraction. Since its recent €58 millions makeover, it now offers an even more mind-blowing journey into pre-histo
The Pre-history’s Cistine Chapel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
JARRING WITH THE BUCOLIC SCENERY OF THE PERIGORD NOIR, all rolling hills and limestone villages, an immense, futuristic glass and striated-concrete structure has appeared in the Vezere Valley. Opened in December 2016 by Francois Hollande, this awe-inspiring 8500 square-metre visitor centre took specialist builders and craftsmen years to complete. It is designed to offer an immersive experience of pre-historic cave art, and, just for a few hours, to close the anthropological gap between us and our forebears, who hunted Bison Antiquus here when temperatures were a little chillier. In the early Autumn of 1940, a local teenager, Marcel Ravidat discovered the entrance to a deep cave while walking his dog, Robot. A few days later, he returned with some friends. These young lads were the first to lay eyes on over 2000 paintings of bulls, bison, horses, stags, birds and humans etched onto the cave’s walls in red, yellow and black pigments. The discovery represented a giant leap for stone age studies.
But, when armies of visitors began to troop through the cave, a fungus appeared, causing damage to the precious 17,000 year old art-work. The cave was closed to the public in 1962, and an impressive replica built in 1983, Lascaux II, which was a hit for decades, but is a little too close to the real Lascaux for comfort.
The recently opened Centre International d'art Pariétal, dubbed ‘Lascaux IV’, uses technology to take us on a multisensory journey into the Upper Paleolithic period. Each visitor is given a tablet to guide them through a series of interactive exhibits, films and workshops, unlocking the mysteries of both the ancient art, and the daily lives of the artists who created it. The new ‘facsimile’ cave is a far more exact replica than its predecessor. Digital photography, laser imaging and 3D printing help lend as much authenticity to the reproduction paintings and engravings as possible.
The sounds, temperature and smell of the original cave have been conjured up, allowing us to contemplate the paintings as Cro-magnon man would have done, illuminated by flickering candle-light. Lascaux is a passion project; a brilliant meditation, not only on the history of mankind, but on the history and role of great art.
The impressive black cow: a 2,15 meters fresco.