Caves, Caving and Ancient Cave Art In France’s Dordogne Valley

Caves, Caving and Ancient Cave Art In France’s Dordogne Valley

The Vezere Valley in the “Perigord Noir” of the Dordogne, with it’s more than 250 UNESCO sites of interest and oldest cave paintings, is the undisputed “Prehistoric Capital of the World”

Steeped in history dating back more than 25,000 years, prehistoric man left fascinating paintings in caves all along the valley. The Romans also left their mark with the many bridges they built. The region later became the setting for the bitter Hundred Years War, which finally brought an end to 300 years of English rule in 1453. During this time, fortified villages and castles, which still dominate the landscape, were built here.

The region is famous for its caves and prehistoric cave drawings from approximately 10,000 to 30,000 years ago. Here limestone cave formations and towering cliff shelters eaten out by glaciers and underground rivers as long as 140 million years ago dot the horizon. Europe’s most important prehistoric caves are situated here. The most important of these is the Lascaux Cave with nearly 2000 figures of prehistoric cave drawings. In this underground network, with constant temperature and humidity and isolation from light, the art has been very well preserved. Other exciting sites with cave drawings of animals include Font-de-Gaume, with drawings of bison, horses and deer; Combarelles, where Stone Age people left more than 300 engravings, and Cap Blanc, offering 14 animals gracefully sculptured in deep relief.

 

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