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  • Palaeolithic : Cave Paintings



    Rouffignac is one of the longest and most ramifide caves with palaeolithic paintings. Total length of all the chambers and galleries in three levels is about 10 kms. The cave itself was known long ago. It was mentioned in F. de Belfore's "Universal cosmography of the world (1575). A plan of the cave with an indication of ancient inscriptions on the Large Decorated Ceiling was made at the end of the last centure" (Martel). In 1915 the cave was visited by abbot Henry Breuil, a beginner - researcher of the caves then. In 1956 the piece of land with the cave was bought by the Plassard family. The same year their friends, archaeologists Romain Robert and Louis-Rene Nougier visited the estate. On the 26-th of June Robert, looking at the wall of the cave, called his friend: "Hi, Toto, come here and see!". These were depictions of two mammoths - an obvious testimony of their palaeolithic age. Since that time the paintings and engravings of Rouffingac cave became the object of close study by specialists and the place of continuous pilgrimage for tourists. The cave being very long, a narrow-gauge railway with special mini-trains, consisting of open platforms each for 6-8 persons, was made there. Special lamps are fixed on the platforms, lightening some sections of the walls with paintings while the train is passing by.

    Specialists are still discussing the authenticity and dating to the Upper Palaeolithic of some depictions from Rouffingac cave. Mostly non-French specialists have doubts. The majority of arguments concerns the frieze of three rhino figures and a part of the ceiling featuring ibex figures. There are statements of some speleologists, who had visited the cave in the period between September and December 1948 and saw only two rhinos then and the third one appeared only in 1949. Some specialists think that there are depictions of modern "naive" artists on the ceiling. Rouffingac paintings have not been dated according to C-14 yet and the necessity of the dating is obvious.





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