The Cave Beneath the Sea
October 18, 2003: I was a little bit disturbed by the altar on the previous page - especially when we soon encountered a little poodle with exactly the same color fur at a cafe down in Cassis.
Now, a bit about the Cosquer Cave. The peoples who left the marvelous art in this cave, according to the experts who have studied the matter, did not live in the caves. It is thought that they only went there to create art and perhaps conduct some sort of initiatory rites. Analyses have established what kind of wood they used for their torches and precise dates were obtained for pieces of charcoal lying on the cave floor as well as the charcoal lifted from some of the art. There are two series of date ranges: one about 27,000 years ago and the other at about 18,500 years ago. What this means is that the Cosquer Cave was visited during two periods only, with that odd interval of 8,500 years in between.
The rock art from the older period consists of stencils of hands - with incomplete fingers - made by placing the hand against the wall, curving selected fingers, and then blowing pain around the hand to outline it in red or black. Also in that period, someone covered the walls and ceilings with grooves made in soft surfaces - presumably "finger tracings."
It was only in the second period of use that animals were painted and engraved. There are about a hundred pictures of animals recorded in the Cosquer Cave and most of them are horses, ibex, chamois, bovids and cervids. There is also a feline head and several animals that no one knows exactly what they represent.
One of the unusual features of the Cosquer Cave is that sea animals are also depicted including eight seals, three great auks, a fish and jellyfish and even penguins. There are also geometric signs - rectangles, zigzags, and spear signs on some of the animal bodies.
The art of the Cosquer Cave is parallel to the prehistoric art of Ebbou in the Ardeche region of France and with Parpallo in the area of Valencia, Spain. This suggests that the individuals responsible for this art traveled quite a bit and had extensive contacts.
Many people have wondered what the people who created the great Cave Art of Europe looked like since they weren't very interested in leaving portraits of themselves. A bit further to the East, along the Italian-French border, other caves contained a group of a dozen skeletons, nine of which were well-preserved. These individuals belonged to the classic Cro-Magnon type and are generally placed contemporary to the earlier works (phase one) in the Cosquer Cave. The only representatives of the Cosquer phase two period are some badly preserved skeletons from the Ardeche and Dordogne regions of France. These were also modern humans of the Cro-Magnon type which means that they were like us, only better.
The reader may like to take a virtual tour of the Cosquer Cave.
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