The Lascaux cave was discovered in 1940 by a group of teenage boys who had followed their dog down a hole. After returning with lights the next day, the boys explored their find and decided to keep it a secret among themselves. Eventually they told their teacher about it and it became one of the greatest finds of the century. Located in some woods near Perigot, a city north of Montigna, on the left side of Vexere, the Lascaux cave quickly became very famous, especially after it was opened to the public. But with all the pictures the tourists took, the colors on the wall began to fade, and so the researchers created an exact duplicate for the public to go through. This way the original cave would be preserved.
Lascaux Cave is thousands of years old and contains around 1,500 engravings and 600 paintings in an area, which is called the Hall of Bulls, followed by a corridor with an oval room, the Apse with a high, domed ceiling and to the left of that a rectangular room with a deep floor, the Nave. The only stalactite or stalagmite located in the whole cave is a single column at the back of the Nave.
Underneath the paintings the artists laid a thick layer of calcite to help keep the walls from chipping and their work of art falling to the floor. Part of the reason the paintings further back in the cave have been worn away is because the protective layer is not as thick. The paintings in the first chamber are exquisite, and not only were they beautiful but well thought out too. A stampede of bulls and horses heading towards a smaller group of resting stags shows incredibly fluid movement. There were few colors used. Black, for the four biggest bulls and reddish, grey-brown and black are used for the running horses. The deer are done in red and brown and have intricate antlers. The rest of the cave isn't quite as ornate as the first room, but the art in them is still beautiful and enchanting.
The scientists believe that the hall in between the Hall of Bulls and the Apse was once painted but is now devoid of paint because of people passing through the small passage. But of the colors that still remain, yellow is introduced to the rainbow. The paintings in the Apse and the Nave have lost a lot of their color as well, but the scientists believe that it is because the walls weren't coated with as much calcite as in the Hall of Bulls. The only place where the picture of a human is found is in the Apse. He lies prostrate before a wounded bison, next to him lies a staff.
The methods used were varied. They ranged from fingers to blowing the paint through reeds or bones, brushes were also used, often made of hair or feathers. The use of reeds suggest that these people had an ancient form of air brushing, and this method gave the manes of the horses a sort of gradient. Several people and generations worked on the paintings, each imitating very closely to what the generation before had started, making the masterpiece even greater because it took the community to finish it.
The beauty of the paintings was considered to be incredible and better than anything that could come before it. The scientists believed that painting was a talent that people learned over time and that the people that came before this period could not have had any more talent than the ones that had just been discovered. That was of course, until they found Chauvet. Chauvet is a cave that is discovered to be at least 15,000 years older than Lascaux, and the paintings and etchings inside are considered to be even more intricate and beautiful than those found in Lascaux.
Sites used:
http://www.franceguideprestige.com/lascaux.htm http://www.acommonreader.com/1/1504.html
http://www.minervatech.u-net.com/archae01.htm