The Lascaux cave, south-western France, containing cave art being over 20000 years old, is to open a new site to public on December 15th, called Lascaux 4.
Since the discovery in 1940 the Lascaux cave is probably the greatest vault of Upper Palaeolithic cave art ever found. The cave, located in Dordogne holds colourful paintings depicting animals, symbols, engravings and stylised human figures. The site had to be closed down in 1963 because the huge number of visitors resulted in the paintings deteriorating at a rapid pace. On some days, there were so many people inside the caves that some ended up fainting.
Experts estimate that the paintings are around 20000 years old (between 22000-17000 years old depending on the dating technique used). However, since none of them were made using coal, it is not possible to date them directly with the radiocarbon dating method. Unlike cave shelters inhabited by prehistoric groups of men, filled with waste and other archaeologically helpful artefacts, there is only a small number of finds in Lascaux. This indicates that people came back in the cave at various points throughout its history to paint, but trying to date these processes more accurately is impossible.
Lascaux 2, an impressive reproduction of part of the caves, was opened in 1983, to allow people to get a sense of the paintings, without irrevocably ruining the originals. In 1979, the caves were added to UNESCO World Heritage List. This was followed in 2012 by the creation of Lascaux 3, an itinerant exhibition about the cave art, which has so far been presented in a number of major cities around the globe. The currently scheduled for opening Lascaux 4 section will contain a reproduction of the full caves, inside a large centre of prehistoric art with rooms to spread information about the site and to show educational films about its mysteries.
Very little is known about the human groups that created Lascaux’s paintings. There has been contradicting hypotheses about whether one or more groups participated over time, and if women and children were included in the creative process alongside men. Experts state that they do not know much time elapsed between the completion of each drawing, possibly less than a millennia due to no changes in style between single paintings.
(after International Business Times & D Nidos)