We can see into societies that lived thousands of years ago because to ancient art. The Altamira cave in Spain is a well-preserved example of Stone Age artwork. It is not, however, the sole ancient art show. The Lascaux cave, located just outside of a tiny town in southern France, is home to some of the most well-known specimens of Paleolithic art.
This complex of underground rooms, discovered in the mid-nineteenth century, features over 600 paintings—including over 2,000 figures—representing Stone Age creatures that humans hunted and dreaded. While the genuine cave was closed to the public in 1963, the life-size reproductions allow visitors to witness amazing murals created by individuals over 17,000 years ago who wanted to express themselves and their lives.
Learn more about Lascaux Cave and its paintings by scrolling down.
What is the purpose of the Lascaux Cave?
The Lascaux cave is really a network of caverns in southern France that are covered in Upper Paleolithic wall paintings (between 50,000 and 12,000 years ago). These visual galleries are thought to have been created across generations around 17,000 years ago.
A youth found the location in 1940, just outside of the hamlet of Montignac. He returned with a local priest, who drew a series of sketches to document the facts. After the site was fully excavated, approximately 600 paintings on the caves’ walls and ceilings were discovered, most of which featured animals from the time period.
The cave was available to the public by the mid-1950s, and a thousand people visited each day. However, there were no preservation procedures in place, and the paintings quickly degraded. The caverns have been closed to the public since 1963 as a result of this. In Paris and for the Lascaux Museum, replicas of Lascaux have been created.
The Layout of the Cave
TOURING THE CAVE
The cave of Lascaux is divided into various galleries with varied lengths and heights. The cave’s entry leads immediately to the main gallery, known as the Hall of the Bulls, which is the cave’s most famous part and one of the most notable examples of Paleolithic art. This 62-foot-long tunnel is adorned with several paintings of bulls, horses, dear, and one unicorn. This passageway connects two galleries, one of which is a dead end.
The Apse is a semi-circular chamber in the heart of Lascaux. This region, which is about 15 feet in circumference, is totally covered in animal and abstract symbol carvings. This section of cave art contains the majority of the cave’s art.
The Chamber of Felines is one of the cave’s most narrow tunnels. This 100-foot-long galley features several pictures of cats and horses, some of which are positioned at a unique angle.
The Lascaux cave has almost 2,000 figurines. The majority of them depict deer, musk-oxen, horses, aurochs, and bison, which were endemic to Europe during the Paleolithic epoch and which the painters would have hunted. Predators such as huge felines and bears are also depicted in several of the images. In the cave, there is just one humanoid figure, which has a bird’s head on top of a man’s torso.
Other photos show abstract symbols with no obvious purpose. Dots, different lines (straight, parallel, divergent), and forms are among them. The figurative drawings are usually surrounded by these.
The extraordinary realism of all of the art inside Lascaux cave sticks out. These pictures show not only the painters’ mastery of anatomy and realism, but also ability to portray movement (such as running animals) and sequences (arrows aiming for the body of an animal).
Materials & Techniques
The art of the Lascaux cave includes paintings, sketches, and engravings, which were utilized separately and jointly at periods.
Paintbrushes were not used to create wall paintings during this time period. Instead, painters used moss or hair to sketch figures and then blew paint through a bone or wood tube to fill up vast swaths of color (which had a similar effect to spray painting). Local materials, such as iron oxides (red) and charcoal, were used to create the paint pigments (black). There is evidence that the residents constructed a scaffolding system to paint on the ceilings.
The artist had to scrape away at the stone wall’s surface with an equally hard substance in order to engrave it (most likely a rock). This approach gave the wall a drawing-like impression, with the subject’s outline seeming slightly brighter than the rest of the surface.