The Cave Art Paintings of the Cosquer Cave

Prehistoric Images and Medicines Under the Sea

Page 1/5
by Jean Clottes, Jean Courtin, Luc Vanrell
A few facts must be recalled before presenting our new discoveries. The Cosquer Cave (Marseille, France) was discovered in 1985 by a diver, Henri Cosquer, deep under the sea (the original entrance is about 115 feet below present-day sea level) but its paintings were not mentioned until 1991 after three divers died in the cave when they got lost.
The gallery slopes up for about 360 feet under water before reaching a huge chamber that partly remained above the sea and where many prehistoric paintings and engravings are preserved on the walls, as well as remains on the ground (charcoal from fires and torches, a few flint tools). This is the only painted cave in the world with an entrance below present-day sea level where cave art has been preserved from the flooding that occurred when the seas rose after the end of the last glaciation (Clottes & Courtin 1994, 1996).
cave art paintings cosquer cave france
Photo Luc Vanrell
cave art paintings cosquer cave france
Photo Luc Vanrell
Right from the start, it was obvious that the discovery of the Cosquer Cave was both an important and original art find. It was located in a provence of France near Marseilles, an area where no Palaeolithic art had ever been discovered. This highlighted a supposedly well-known but rarely referred to problem, which is the disappearance of uncounted prehistoric caves under the sea all along the Mediterranean and other shores since Ice Age times. Several large caves are next to Cosquer. A number of them could have been - and probably were - lived in, painted or engraved.
Despite the destructions due to the sea, Cosquer ranks among the few caves where more than 150 animal figures have been found.
Hand stencils now total 65, the highest number in Europe except for Gargas (Hautes-Pyrénées) and possibly El Castillo in Spain. They are all located in the east side of the chamber, with one in the south. None is in the west. Right at the brink of a 57 feet deep vertical shaft – a location which in itself is significant - they are all black. On other panels, they may be black or red. One positive red hand has been found. A number of hand stencils have been scratched or painted over with dots and bars.
hand stencils cosquer cave art france hand stencils cosquer cave art france hand stencils cosquer cave art france
Photo Jean Clottes Photo Luc Vanrell Photo Jean Clottes
cave art paintings cosquer cave france
Photo Jean Clottes
cave art paintings cosquer cave france
Photo Jean Clottes
Only adult hand stencils have been found. Many of them have incomplete fingers: they were realized by bending the fingers. Hand stencils with incomplete fingers had until very recently only been found in very few caves, mostly in the Pyrénées (Gargas, Tibiran, Fuente del Trucho). Now, we know that the phenomenon was far more widely represented than had been thought. The now established fact that roughly at the same time such hand stencils were being made in sites hundreds of miles apart should deal a death blow to the theory of pathologic mutilations: how likely would it be that human groups living at such distances from one another should independently develop the same crippling diseases and should react in the same way by immortalizing them on the walls of the caves by means of the same techniques?
Cosquer Cave Art | Page | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Acknowledgements |
France Rock Art Archive
Bradshaw Foundation
Like us on Facebook & Follow us on Twitter to receive news & updates:
Support our work & become a
Friend of the Foundation
Bradshaw Foundation Twitter @BrashawFND
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter List of Research Papers Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Privacy Policy Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Birnin Kudu Rock Art Center Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Baja California Film Coso Range Talking Stone Film Nevada Oregon Territory Moab, Utah Clovis First Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Avebury Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Introduction Peterborough Petroglyphs Western Canadian Rock Art Writing-On-Stone Wuikinuxv Territory Dinosaur Provincial Park Archive Index Huashan Rock Art Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Rouffignac Cave Portable Art Defining Rock Art Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Preservation & Education Dr. V. S. Wakankar Articles on India Rock Art Contemporary Art Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Scandinavian Rock Art Archive Scandinavian Introduction Alta Rock Art Norway Rock Art in Finland Tanum Rock Art Sweden Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Banksy Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes Other Websites Contact the Foundation