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The Caves of Lascaux: A Virtual Tour

Society & Culture  (tags: ancient, archaeology, cave, France, paintings )

- 2073 days ago -
This remarkable slide show allows you to see the cave art from 35 - 40,000 years ago. These caves are not open to tourists, to protect them from light, temperature changes and vandalism.


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Elizabeth Pugliese (8)
Monday September 16, 2013, 6:13 am

Kit B (276)
Monday September 16, 2013, 6:15 am

The controls for the slide shows will probably be on your left side, you control where you "walk" in the caves.

Kit B (276)
Monday September 16, 2013, 6:25 am

My thanks to Pam for sharing this with me.

Kit B (276)
Monday September 16, 2013, 6:32 am

A virtual revolution occurred in the creation of art during the period of the Upper Paleolithic in Europe. Beginning around 40,000 B.C., the archaeological record shows that anatomically modern humans effectively replaced Neanderthals and remained the sole hominid inhabitants across continental Europe. At about the same time, and directly linked to this development, the earliest art was created. These initial creative achievements fall into one of two broad categories. Paintings and engravings found in caves along walls and ceilings are referred to as "parietal" art. The caves where paintings have been found are not likely to have served as shelter, but rather were visited for ceremonial purposes. The second category, "mobiliary" art, includes small portable sculpted objects which are typically found buried at habitation sites.

In the painted caves of western Europe, namely in France and Spain, we witness the earliest unequivocal evidence of the human capacity to interpret and give meaning to our surroundings. Through these early achievements in representation and abstraction, we see a newfound mastery of the environment and a revolutionary accomplishment in the intellectual development of humankind.

The painted walls of the interconnected series of caves in Lascaux in southwestern France are among the most impressive and well-known artistic creations of Paleolithic humans. Although there is one human image (painted representations of humans are very rare in Paleolithic art; sculpted human forms are more common), most of the paintings depict animals found in the surrounding landscape, such as horses, bison, mammoths, ibex, aurochs, deer, lions, bears, and wolves. The depicted animals comprise both species that would have been hunted and eaten (such as deer and bison) as well as those that were feared predators (such as lions, bears, and wolves). No vegetation or illustration of the environment is portrayed around the animals, who are represented in profile and often standing in an alert and energetic stance. Their vitality is achieved by the broad, rhythmic outlines around areas of soft color. The animals are typically shown in a twisted perspective, with the heads depicted in profile but the pair of horns or antlers rendered frontally visible. (In contrast, a strictly optical profile would show only one horn or antler.) The intended result may have been to imbue the images with more visual power and magical properties. The combination of profile and frontal perspectives is an artistic idiom also observed in ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian art.

At Lascaux and Chauvet, another magnificently painted cave in France, images of animals are superimposed on top of earlier depictions, which suggests that the motivation for the paintings may have been in the act of portraying the animals rather than in the artistic effect of the final composition. However, their purpose remains obscure. Most of the paintings are located at a distance from the cave's entrance, and many of the chambers are not easily accessible. This placement, together with the enormous size and compelling grandeur of the paintings, suggests that the remote chambers may have served as sacred or ceremonial meeting places.

In addition to the painted images, Lascaux is rich with engravings of animals as well as abstract designs. In the absence of natural light, these works could only have been created with the aid of torches and stone lamps filled with animal fat.

The pigments used to paint Lascaux and other caves were derived from readily available minerals and include red, yellow, black, brown, and violet. No brushes have been found, so in all probability the broad black outlines were applied using mats of moss or hair, or even with chunks of raw color. The surfaces appear to have been covered by paint blown directly from the mouth or through a tube; color-stained, hollowed-out bones have been found in the caves.

Sue Matheson (79)
Monday September 16, 2013, 6:44 am

Lynne Willey (2)
Monday September 16, 2013, 7:50 am
I wanted to send Kit B a green star, but I got a message saying I had already sent one.

I also wanted to tell her that now they know that Neanderthals, Denisnovians (hope I spelled that right) and modern man are hybrids, having mated between groups many different times and places.

From what I just saw on a NGO special, modern man and Neanderthals split from each other, a long time after, Neanderthals split and some because Denisnovians, and later still all three bred with each other.

Evidence of the Denisnovians were found in a cave (I think near Russia) in the spring of 2010. The NGO special is titled, "Sex in the Stone Age".

Humans have always mixed with people who didn't look just like them. Someone different seems new and exciting maybe.

Nicole W (646)
Monday September 16, 2013, 8:30 am
very cool, thank you dear Kit

Past Member (0)
Monday September 16, 2013, 8:45 am
WOW WOW WOW...that was mesmerizing! Truly beautiful. Thanks Kit

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Monday September 16, 2013, 8:46 am
Thank you for sharing this amazing video of Lascaux. The engravings are spectacular!

Kit B (276)
Monday September 16, 2013, 9:01 am

It seems the Denisova hominin left a DNA trail through parts of India and Australia. Many Caucasians have small 3-5 % of Neanderthal DNA. The logical conclusion is that modern humans (Homo sapien sapin) are the off springs of early beings coming together and building communities.

JL A (281)
Monday September 16, 2013, 11:42 am
I remember a film of these I was shown in school (literally a film projector)--these visuals were far more vivid--thanks Kit!

Barbara K (61)
Monday September 16, 2013, 12:09 pm
Wow, thanks again for the little vacation via computer, my dear friend.

Caroline S (78)
Monday September 16, 2013, 1:30 pm
Thank you so much, I LOVED it !!!

Patrick D (344)
Monday September 16, 2013, 1:32 pm
The spelling of the 3rd branch of humanity per Wikipedia is:
- Denisovians

More technically:
- Denisova hominin

Caroline S (78)
Monday September 16, 2013, 1:32 pm
Absolument génial, merci!

Terry V (30)
Monday September 16, 2013, 3:19 pm

Vita P (40)
Monday September 16, 2013, 3:28 pm
This is when the digital world is as best!!!...being able to experience something VERY amazing!!...
WOW to get a tour in the famous cave!.... and to enjoy the Upper Paleolithic cave art right on my screen!!
Thank YOU for sharing.

Yvonne White (229)
Monday September 16, 2013, 3:36 pm
Very cool!:)

Robert O (12)
Monday September 16, 2013, 4:18 pm
Thank you Kit.

SuSanne P (193)
Monday September 16, 2013, 5:25 pm
THANK YOU for the INCREDIBLE trip through such BEAUTY, beyond words!

Jerry B (128)
Monday September 16, 2013, 5:38 pm
Noted wow excellent..thanks Kit!

pam w (139)
Monday September 16, 2013, 7:42 pm
Thanks for sharing it here, Kit! For's CLAUSTROPHOBIA CITY (as are all caves) but it's stunning to think of the they did it....what it MIGHT have meant, etc.

I've always believed we never give early humans enough credit for sophisticated thinking.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 6:14 am

Elle B (81)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 9:47 am
What a wonderful morning surprise gift. . . extraordinary genuine treasure . . . Thank-you Kit!


Vallee R (280)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 3:06 pm
Great tour - thank you and love petroglyphs or drawings in caves

Anne F (17)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 10:57 pm
So wonderful to be able to see what people did so long ago.

Sherri G (128)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 11:37 pm
Wow this was very special - TY Kit. Noted, shared, and tweeted. Way back in the day my Art History professor said this is one of the most fantastic places to visit. How right he was. Who knew I would see it on Care2. I know I have mentioned this before but I had my DNA done on 23andme and it came back that I was 3% Neanderthal and my haplogroup is N2a or 60,000 years old. However, do not recommend testing DNA if you are still in the work force since they also test for probability of getting various illnesses and we all know insurance companies desire to NOT INSURE anyone they can. That said I find all the information I get from the results very interesting and helpful. I offer this to support Lynn W's comment.

Sherri G (128)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 11:39 pm
Sorry Kit and to support your comment about 3-5% Neanderthal in many of us.
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