“All these animals that seems to be leaping out of the walls, full of life, it was indescribable”. Simon Coencas one of the finders in 1940.
We have visited Lascaux II three times so it was a real treat to find out that a coach trip from Daglan would be visiting the new Lascaux IV. It would be organised by La Municipalite et le Club de I’Amitie and would be taking place on the 27th January. I think that we can speak for all of the people who attended on the two coaches, it was a brilliant excursion.
Unearthed in the middle of a World War 2 by four teenagers, Lascaux almost disappeared, a victim of its immense popularity. Now protected by the State the cave can again be viewed as magnificent replicas.
The building nestles at the foot of the hill of Lascaux like an incision into the landscape. A little like a rock shelter in the Vezere Valley in the epoch of the Upper Palaeolithic. Created by an Norwegian Architect Kjetil Traedal Thorsen co-founder and co-director of the Snohetta Office.
The result: there are no apparent pillars on the transparent facade. An 8,600 square metre landscape building blending into the hill; 150 metres long and only 8 meters high, it fits snugly into the topography.
At the start of the tour we were given a tablet with head phones so that we could listen to commentary of the very knowledgeable tour guide and to extra information in your own language. The tablet can also be used to access more detail such as 3D maps of the cave system and includes a built in camera which I think is a brilliant idea.
At first we were taken to the top of the building where we could walk and admire the view of the valley on one side and the forest on the other. Then we were taken via a small tunnel to the ‘path of discovery room’, so that each visitor is drawn into the heart of a prehistoric forest displayed on a large screen, using sound environments and 3D visuals. It ends of course with the finders of the cave the four boys and Robot the dog.
Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Simon Coencas and Georges Agriel who found the cave in 1940.
At first they did not see the paintings. They walked past the enormous bulls painted onto the vault over head so it was not until they had reached the Axial gallery that the boys discovered by the light of a torch a procession of red cows, deer and black and yellow horses painted onto a background of white calcite.
The pigments used were yellow, brown and red ochres, iron and manganese, that the artists gathered from the environment before mixing them into a palette of about twenty colours which are unique to the Prehistoric Period.
One of the Aurochs or Giant Bulls, which is one of our favourites due to the vivid colours and the detail in the painting.
Visitors pass through the Hall of Bulls and then the Axial Gallery, before going into the Nave to discover the paintings that have not been reproduced in Lascaux II. A total of 1,963 paintings approximately 20,000 years old were completed by the original Master Artists of the Southern Period of the Palaeolithic Era.
Workshops consist of interactive tablets and panels of the reproduced cave paintings which are a brilliant way to study the workmanship of the artists who produced these magnificent paintings. The artists used 3D scanners with laser technology to compile and process the information to from a 3 dimensional digital reconstruction of the rock.
There is also a 130 seater cinema with two screens front and ceiling. Plus a large souvenir shop selling everything from books, T-shirts, cups etc. to whiskey.
From the Axial Gallery a red cow with a black head. Which looks similar to Egyptian Art, showing a side view with all of the details.
“What these people achieved twenty thousand years ago, with the limited means that they had and under those conditions, is incredible”. Francis Ringenbach.
Falling horses. Their knowledge of using the rock to the ultimate effect. In the cave it looks like the horse is falling into a pit or hole.
The total budget: 57 million euros to create Lascaux IV, with 33 million euros provided by the Department and French State. They receive up to 4000 visitors per day during the Summer months.
Write it into your to do list when you visit the Perigord. It is well worth a visit or two.