Lascaux Cave: Sistine Chapel of Primitive Art

Lascaux Cave: Sistine Chapel of Primitive Art
Lascaux Cave: Sistine Chapel of Primitive Art

Lascaux Cave (or Lascaux) is a complex of underground galleries famous for rock paintings that were created in the period from the eighteenth to the fifteenth millennium BC. It was discovered by accident by four teenagers who came across a narrow passage broken by a pine tree that had fallen from a lightning strike. The first person to seriously study the art of the Upper Paleolithic in Lascaux was Henri Breuil, a specialist in the history of primitive society. It was he who established the authenticity of the oldest paintings.

Lascaux cave

The Lascaux Cave is located in the southwest of France, near the village of Montignac, in the Dordogne department. It is located in the valley of the river Weser, where at the beginning of the twentieth century other caves with rock paintings were discovered, mainly depicting large animals, such as Combarel, Font-de-Gaume, Bernifal. In such places, in which engraved and pictorial drawings are along the walls and ceilings, primitive people most likely did not live. They were intended for ceremonial purposes.

Lascaux Cave is one of the most impressive examples of art created by man from the Paleolithic era. It contains about 2000 images, which can be grouped into three maincategories: animals, human figures (depictions of humans are generally very rare in Paleolithic art), and abstract symbols. Large drawings are made using mineral pigments, smaller images are carved in stone. Many images have faded and are difficult to distinguish.

Cave in France

But in any case, this cave in France represents the first creative masterpiece of mankind, deserving the name of the Sistine Chapel of primitive art. The most famous part of the cave is the “Hall of the Bulls”, on the calcite walls of which bison, horses and deer are depicted (at a height of two meters from the ground level and on the natural ceiling cornice). The five black bison are the dominant figures among their accompanying horses and other animals. They are organized into two herds opposite each other (two bison on the north wall, three on the south).

Each of the two sides is named after the animal it represents. The wall on the north side is known as the "unicorn" panel because of the enigmatic animal depicted here with a long and perfectly straight horn. On the south side is the "bear" panel. Here, the chest of one of the bison is partially covered by a drawing of a small bear, whose ears and clawed paws stand out in particular. One of the aurochs, 5.2 meters high, is the largest drawing representing rock art.

Lascaux Cave was definitely a sacred space. Animals played an important role in the life of Paleolithic hunters. For a long time it was believed that such drawingswere associated with primitive magic, thanks to which the spell of potential prey took place. In fact, of the depicted animals, only deer were the main diet of primitive people.

Lascaux Cave

The painting in the Nave Gallery, called "crossed bison", demonstrates the ability of Paleolithic ancestors to work with perspective. Of course, this is only its primitive form. The bison's crossed legs create the illusion that one of the figures is closer to the viewer than the other.

Of course, the Lascaux cave has not yet revealed all its secrets, but its illustrated bestiary makes an indelible impression, it unites modern man with his distant ancestors and helps to realize how the human essence began to create.

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