• France edition
 
French town probes 'second' Lascaux cave
One of the cave paintings at Lascaux in south-western France. Could a 50-year-old family secret help unveil a new prehistoric art gallery at nearby Montignac? Photo: ProfSaxx/Wikimedia

French town probes 'second' Lascaux cave

Published: 02 Jan 2014 10:50 GMT+01:00
Updated: 02 Jan 2014 12:07 GMT+01:00

A group of teenagers in the south west of France in 1940 stumble across what turns out to be a complex network of Paleolithic caves with a series of astonishing 17,000-year-old frescos, which becomes known as the “Sistine Chapel of the Prehistoric era.”

You might assume this type of thing only happens once in the same region, but authorities in the town of Montignac, Dordogne are probing the possibility of the existence of a second Lascaux cave.

The rumours of a second cave covered in pre-historic artwork have been circulating for years, but it appears local authorities are now ready to take them seriously after one local family shared an extraordinary secret they had kept to themselves for half a century.

According to French media reports this week, preliminary investigations by the town’s mayor, as well as authorities in the Dordogne region, have proved promising enough to warrant a more detailed probe into a patch of land 4 km from the site of the Lascaux caves.

“There’s no certainty, and we are still quite far from having the necessary evidence to confirm the existence of another decorated cave,” Montignac mayor Laurent Mathieu told French daily Le Figaro this week.

Despite that caution, however, Mathieu did confirm that the culture department of the Dordogne regional administration would soon be mapping out a 10-hectare area for “further research.”

This region will also be placed under surveillance, to prevent amateur archaeologists from conducting their own, unsupervised investigations.

The possibility of a second momentous discovery near the south-western town came about in August, when a local woman in her 70s approached Mathieu with an extraordinary claim.

She told him her husband – who died in August – had come across a cave with prehistoric frescos back in 1962, but covered the entrance back up, for fear of bringing hassle on himself, according to France Info radio.

The secret had stayed in the family for 51 years, until she finally shared it with the mayor.

The original cave art at Lascaux was found in 1940, and attracted hordes of visitors until it was closed to the public in 1983.

A partial set of detailed imitations located next to the original cave have since brought roughly 10 million visitors to the region, a result that politicians and residents in Montignac will be hoping they can replicate with a brand new set of prehistoric paintings.

A member of staff at the local tourist office told The Local on Thursday that the possibility of a second Lascaux cave was the topic of conversation on everyone's lips.

"The rumours have been around for a while, but everyone is talking about it now. For the moment we just don't know.

"The mayor believes the story but there are other archaeologists who doubt it. If a second cave was found it would be excellent for the region," she added.

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Foreign students worth €1.6 billion to France
International students are worth a lot of money to France. Photo:Tulane Public Relations/Flickr

Foreign students worth €1.6 billion to France

The tens of thousands of international students who come to France each year are giving the country’s economy a healthy boost, a new study has revealed. It's partly in thanks to all the money they shell out just to be able to afford to live here. READ  

French crooks boosted as wiretap firms strike
French phone tapping firms go on strike. Photo: Spying photo

French crooks boosted as wiretap firms strike

French criminals likely breathed a sigh of relief this week when the four firms that carry out most court-ordered phone wiretaps in France refused to take on any new jobs after a bitter dispute with the justice ministry. READ  

The Local List
Ten inventions you could curse the French for
Not every invention that has come out of France has been positive. Photo: Invention: Shutterstock

Ten inventions you could curse the French for

Some great inventions have come out of France over the years, not least the scented-flatulence pills, but there are also a fair few we think the world perhaps could have done without. Here's 10 creations you could curse the French for inventing. READ  

Pop-artist Koons opens Paris retrospective
US pop artist Jeff Koons gestures in front of his BMW Art Car decorated with exploding, multi-colored rays on June 2, 2010 during a press conference at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Photo: Fred Dufour

Pop-artist Koons opens Paris retrospective

The Pompidou Centre in Paris opened on Wednesday a major retrospective of the works of Jeff Koons, the controversial American master of kitsch and the world’s highest paid living artist. READ  

Europe takes France to task over disputed dam
Police clash with protesters at the disputed Sivens dam in south western France. Photo: Florine Galeorn/AFP

Europe takes France to task over disputed dam

The European Commission launched legal action against France on Wednesday over a controversial dam project that saw a young protester killed by a police grenade last month. READ  

High heels bring out best in men: French study
Women wearing high heels have a positive effect on men, says a French scientist. Photo: Shutterstock

High heels bring out best in men: French study

Men are more likely to be inspired to help women who are wearing high heel shoes, a French scientist has concluded after carrying-out a first-of-its-kind study. READ  

Wikipedia seeks help to explain French cheese
Know a thing or two about French cheese? Then read on. Photo: Shutterstock

Wikipedia seeks help to explain French cheese

Internet site Wikipedia has asked cheese-lovers to help it explain France’s dizzying array of fromages by sending in photos to help cheese-lovers distinguish their Cantals from their Roqueforts. READ  

French parents 'forced child to eat faeces'
The court heard how the couple had treated the children 'like animals'. Photo: Vasileios Karafillidis/ Shutterstock

French parents 'forced child to eat faeces'

A French court has sentenced a couple to two years in prison for abusing their two young sons, repeatedly punishing them with brutal methods and at one point, forcing one of them to eat his own excrement. READ  

France set for warmest year since 1900
France is set for its warmest year since 1900. But it may not be time to celebrate. Photo: Shutterstock

France set for warmest year since 1900

France looks set to record its hottest year since 1900 with average temperatures in the first ten months of the year the highest for over a century. Only a very cold December would stop records being broken. READ  

Letter from Camus to Sartre found in France
French writer Albert Camus, whose letter to Jean-Paul Sartre has been discovered. Photo: AFP

Letter from Camus to Sartre found in France

A previously unknown letter between two of France's most famous writers, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, has been discovered after having been kept in a frame above an autograph collector's fireplace since the 1970s. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Win a €250 voucher for your Christmas list
National
A pill to make flatulence smell like roses? A Frenchman has cracked it
Culture
Rare 400-year-old Shakespeare work found in northern France
National
Paris air pollution: 'It's like being in a room with eight smokers'
National
From infidelity to sexual needs: How French women have changed in 30 years
National
Billboards to be replaced by trees - the bold move by one French city
Gallery
French government gives 10 reasons to be proud: No. 1 - The Economy
Politics
France's 'first ladies': A look back at the other halves
National
Would background music make the RER in Paris feel safer?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
National
Trierweiler to break her silence... in the UK
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Winter is coming to the French Alps
Gallery
Don't confuse France with Paris: Here's ten reasons why
Sponsored Article
Live like a local - anywhere in the world
National
From the homeless to migrants: A portrait of modern France in ten stats
Culture
Are you brainy enough to be Miss France? Take the quiz
Gallery
France's most notorious celebrities. How many do you know?
Society
City of Love? Seven Paris myths debunked
Education
Why is France worst in the EU at English?
National
C'est pas possible! Paris is 'world's cheapest city for young people'
National
Looking to save space? France allows toilets in kitchens for first time
National
Find out how women in France are getting stung for a hidden tax
Culture
Which one is your favourite? The top 10 heartiest French winter dishes
Face Of The Week
Nabilla - 'France's Kim Kardashian' held for attempted murder
National
So who's scaring everyone by flying drones over France’s nuclear plants?
Education
Whoever thinks French was a dying language should read this
Politics
OPINION: 'One day France will be grateful to François Hollande'
Gallery
IN IMAGES: A history of France's most controversial architecture
National
How to make an 8-square-metre Paris apartment perfectly liveable
Gallery
VIDEO: France's raunchiest TV ads, including that infamous Perrier one
National
Five reasons why you should work a ski season in France and five not to
National
10 art exhibitions not to miss this autumn in Paris
Culture
What's on in France: 11 things to do this November
National
How French have you become? Take our quiz to find out
National
10 things to never say to a French person
National
Top 10: When French translations go wrong
National
Parisian bars that serve drinkers free meals
National
France falls to Germans in nude swim tourney
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se