Located in the Calanque de Morgiou in Marseille, France, Cosquer Cave is a prehistoric site discovered in 1985 by diver Henri Cosquer. The cave’s entrance lies 37 meters underwater due to the Holocene sea level rise. Inside, the cave boasts various prehistoric rock art engravings estimated to be around 27,000 years old. What makes Cosquer Cave unique is its submerged entrance, indicating it was accessible to ancient humans when sea levels were significantly lower.

Cosquer Cave

In 1991, the cave was authenticated and introduced to the general public. A year later, it was designated a historical monument. Since then, historians and researchers have extensively studied the site. Unfortunately, rising sea levels threaten the cave’s existence, with some paintings already partially submerged. Preserving and sharing this unique cave with the world is becoming increasingly urgent. The cave is currently inaccessible, with its entrance closed.

The artwork in Cosquer Cave provides valuable insights into the culture, lifestyle, and artistic abilities of Upper Paleolithic humans.

Cosquer Cave is home to 500 paintings and engravings created during two distinct periods: the first 27,000 years ago and the last 19,000 years ago. Half of these artworks depict animals drawn in bold lines, including bison, antelopes, ibex, seals, auks, and numerous horses. Additionally, the walls feature 200 geometric designs. Aside from an engraving of a half-man, half-seal creature, the only human depictions are red or black hand stencils, with some being just outlines and others filled in. Interestingly, while thumbs are always shown intact, other fingers are often missing or truncated. A computer analysis indicates that these drawings predominantly represent female hands.

To preserve this priceless prehistoric art, a team of scientists, equipped with ultra-modern technology, has created a near-perfect replica of the cave. This replica is now on display in central Marseille, offering the public a chance to experience the cave’s unique and ancient artistry.

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