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The Prehistoric Cave of Pech Merle
Location and History
The cave of the Pech Merle is a prehistoric cave decorated located on the commune of Cabrerets.
It opens in a hill (pech in langue d'oc) dominating the valleys of Sagne and That, in
Quercy. Henri Breuil would have declared that « the painted room of the cave of the Pech Merle is like
the Sixtine Vault of the limestone of the Lot ».
The Art of Pech Merle
The Pech Merle Igue was known to the surrounding residents and was then surveyed several
times before revealing all its secrets. The first room called « red room » because of
its reddish concretions, was discovered between 1906 and 1914 by Henri Redon, medical student
in Paris, accompanied by his cousin Mr. Touzery. The « painted cave » was then discovered
September 4, 1922 by Andrew David, his sister Martha and Henry David Dutertre.
In 1949, Andrew David discovers the network Combel. Amedee Lemozi studying the paintings discovered.
It is classified a historical monument and is a major site of Paleolithic art in Europe.
Large enough, the cave comprises two subsets located on both sides of the prehistoric entry:
in the east are visible red punctuations, horses, cat-like and, in a diverticulum called
Combel, three imaginary figures evoking of the megaceros stags;
to the west a vaster and richer network, the only accessible one at the time of the tourist visits extends.
It understands in particular a named composition black plank associating a horse, bisons and mammoths,
many digital layouts with the ceiling, negative hands associated with punctuations as well as
panel known as of the punctuated horses. This complex composition was undoubtedly carried out in several
stages. It understands two horses, one directed towards the left, the other towards the line, accompanied
of six black negative hands, signs and punctuations. A large fish in red fine feature
comes to superimpose itself on the horse of right-hand side.
This last was the object of a direct dating by the carbon-14, whose result is
of approximately - 25,000 years BP. This date corresponds to Gravettian, which is compatible with others
elements of which negative hands. However, it is possible that part of paintings and
engravings of Pech Merle goes back to a more recent phase, namely Magdalenian.
Thus, materials and colors vibrate together with a subtlety intact since the Middle Ages.
Although the number of daily visitors is limited, Pech Merle is one of the major decorated
Paleolithic caves that are open to the public. On site, the Museum of Prehistory Amedee
Lemozi, labelised Museum of France, completes the visit of the cave. Many researchers have
study the museum's collections, which offer an overview of regional prehistory.
In 2006, 72,000 people visited the cave. 1 600 m of tunnels and rooms are currently
accessible to visitors.