Stone Age painting: a replica of the sea cave opened – Culture

Kosker’s Cave is the only known cave in the underwater world that contains Stone Age paintings. Its depth is about 37 meters in the sea near Marseille. A replica of the masterpiece highlights their treasures – before they are completely gone.

The cave was located in a rural area not far from the sea near Marseille. This was at the time of the Cro-Magnon people, who decorated rock faces with mysterious signs and depictions of animals.

Today, Cosquer Cave is located about 37 meters below sea level. Scientists fear that this art treasure, which dates back thousands of years, will be completely swallowed up by water by the end of the 21st century. A replica of the world’s only known underwater cave with Stone Age paintings now brings a prehistoric treasure to light before it disappeared completely.

Documentation on art

Therefore, “Saving a Masterpiece” is the name of an ART documentary that will air on June 25th. It can already be viewed online from this Saturday in time for the opening of “Underwater Lascaux”, as the cave is also called – in reference to the world-famous Stone Age cave in southwest France.

The faithful replica of the grotto is located near the old port of Marseille, next to the equally impressive MuCEM – although not 37 meters below sea level as the original. The copy is about 4 meters below sea level, more precisely in the second basement of the Villa Méditerranée. The futuristic building is partially submerged and looks like a diving board.

The cost of the replica is about 23 million euros, and its area is 1,750 square meters, which is about 550 square meters smaller than the original. In carriages like a ghost train, you pass stalactites and stalagmites and depict horses, bison, ibex and penguins. However, it remains dry. The carriages run on rails and can be rotated to see all the replicas of prehistoric treasures. Shallow water pools reflect the mimicry of rocks in the semi-darkness.

Discovered by divers in 1985

The original was discovered in 1985 by professional diver Henri Cosquer. The 72-year-old has overseen the development of the project from the start. He said the atmosphere was well reproduced. However, no one could understand the fear and excitement he felt when he dived into the more than 100-meter-long tunnel that led to the cave, he told the German news agency.

Access is dangerous. In 1991, three men died trying to reach the underwater treasure through the narrow tunnel. Since 2015, the cave in the Calanque de la Triperie has been protected by a steel door weighing 800 kilograms.

Among the Stone Age writings, there are 60 hand negativity. Such imprints, made by prehistoric artists putting their hands on the wall and applying paint to the rock, are not rare. But the unusual thing is that two-thirds of the finger joints are missing. Also characteristic is the figure of a man pierced by an arrow, which archaeologists Jean Courtine and Jean Cloutes called “the murdered man.”

Curtin was the first to survey the cave after its discovery. The two published their first inventory in 1994 under the title “La grotte Cosquer”. In 2005, they together with archaeologist, diver, and photographer Luc Vanrell published “Cosquer redecouvert” (Rediscovering Cosquer). Valuable documents were essential in reproducing Stone Age paintings and rock walls in steel and acrylic resin, with the help of 3D models, down to the millimeter.

Using radiocarbon dating, Curtin and Kloots were able to establish that the rock art is 27,000 years old. For the two, the cave is one of the most original to have been found in the Stone Age. “Prehistoric sanctuary,” they say. However, by the end of the twenty-first century, it could be completely swallowed up by water. Because of global warming and the melting of glaciers after the end of the last Ice Age about 10,000 years ago, sea levels are constantly rising.

Today four-fifths of the cave is underwater. Genevieve Pincon, director of the Prehistoric Centre, said the cave is a cultural site in France that cannot be saved. Part of the treasure of prehistoric art is lost every day.

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