A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
On Wednesday, July 4, Jean Michel Geneste, director of the Lascaux Cave and
member of the Chauvet Cave team, announced the discovery and results of an initial study of Cussac, a decorated Upper Palaeolithic cave in southern
France. The cave, one of the most important ever found in Europe, was discovered in September 2000, in the south of Dorgogne, by speleologist Marc Delluc,
who was prospecting in the Buisson-de-Cadouin area of the Dordogne. More
than 100 engraved figures--mammoths, rhinoceros, deer,
and, in greater numbers, horses and bison--have been identified in the
cave. The uniqueness of the site's iconography comes from the size of the figures (some 4 m), the presence of
birds as well as women in silhouette, and schematic vulva depictions. There
are no paintings as at Chauvet or Lascaux; most of the figures were engraved with stone tools, some simply by finger, in the mud on the cave walls. Five human skeletons have also been found on the cave's floor, one is in a wallow--bears had occupied the cave at some period--there was a human skeleton. The archaic character of the engraved figures suggests that they should be around 25,000 to 30,000 years old. Radiocarbon dating is being undertaken and results will be announced in a few weeks.
Interested in touring France's prehistoric caves with Contributing Editor Paul Bahn?Visit AIA Tours at www.archaeological.org or call 800-748-6262.