Lying 125 feet below sea level, an historic treasure hid unseen to humans for thousands of years. Prehistoric humans first left their mark there nearly 27,000 years ago, but it was not until 1985 that modern humans discovered these treasures. This ancient landmark is now known as Cosquer Cave. It is a unique cave not only for the images found there, but also because of its unusual entrance.
The cave is located on Cape Morgiou, in the Calanques, which is near Marseilles (“The Cosquer Cave”). Marseilles is in the south of France along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The only entrance to the cave is through a tunnel that is 125 feet below the water and 575 feet long (“Cosquer Grotto”). This long, sloping tunnel leads to the large, air-filled main chamber of the cave.
Cosquer Cave is named after its discoverer, professional deep-sea diver Henri Cosquer. Cosquer discovered this cave by accident while on a dive in 1985. Although he visited the cave several times after the initial discovery, he was unable to reach the main chamber until September of 1985. Upon discovering the main chamber, he noticed calcite draperies, submerged stalagmites and crystals of aragonite, but nothing else. It was not until 1991 that Cosquer finally alerted officials of his discovery (Jaobs “Grotto Cosquer”). This was prompted by his finding of the first painting in the cave, a stenciled hand done in red.
After notifying the officials, explorers began an intensive search for more artwork. Their findings were amazing. To date, there are about 125 documented images of animals, and fifty-five stenciled hands found in the cave (Jaobs “Grotto Cosquer”).
As in many other caves, silhouettes and stencils of hands have been found in the Cosquer Cave. Many of the images, however, seem to be missing fingers. Researchers are unsure if this is due to frostbite or if it is some kind of greeting symbol (Duckeck “Grotte Cosquer”). Then, in 1994, geometrical designs were discovered. These include what appear to be rectangular shapes drawn with fingers and several other finger tracings.
Although many of the animal paintings found in Cosquer Cave are similar to ones discovered in other caves, there are several unique, exotic images as well. Like in many other caves, horse images constitute the majority of all the animal paintings found. Nearly one-third of all the images are horses, but each one is unique due to the perspective from which the image is painted (Jaobs “Grotto Cosquer”). Some paintings are simply the head of a horse, while others are full-body images. Other animals that have been documented are bison, deer, ibex, and wild ox.
It appears that the prehistoric artists creating these images must have been at least somewhat concerned with detail, because in some images, color variation in the animal’s coat were perceived. However, some drawings are crude images with merely a simple outline of the animal...