Saturday 10 July 2010

Lascaux fiasco?

The magnificent caves at Lascaux (just to the north of where I live) were discovered in September 1940 by four teenage boys, Marcel Ravidat, Jaques Marsal, Georges Agnel, and Simon Coencas; as well as Marcel's dog 'Robot'.
Now; imagine that you'd been around 17,000 years ago, and you'd been invited to a shin-dig at the Lascaux 'artists colony'. I reckon you'd have been impressed enough with the d├ęcor to try to reproduce something of its glory in your own cave; n'est pas? I certainly would have!
And, of course, that WAS the case. Smaller, less flamboyant, painted caves are still being discovered to this day. Recently, in a village not five miles from our house, yet another was discovered and on account of the problems encountered at Lascaux, was immediately closed up again under a shroud of secrecy.
Who knows how many others are still to be found. How many more 'Robots' will force themselves through tiny openings to discover 'wonderous things'. How many are already known of, but their wary owners keep quiet.
Stories abound in southern England of farm labourers ploughing up pieces of Roman mosiac, only to be told by the boss to 'keep ploughing, and keep your mouth SHUT'. It's OK for some government dep't to commandeer a few acres of someone-else's land, but if it's YOURS; the idea may not be quite so appealing!
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  1. In order to prevent developers destroying archeological sites (as they have many times in the past) you now have to have a survey carried out by archeologists BEFORE you start digging, Cro, at least in Bath. A bit late. The hills around here are covered in ploughed-out barrows, etc, but last week in Frome (near Bath) a horde of 52,000 Roman coins was unearthed by a metal detective - the largest ever discovered. They reluctantly pay for hoards like this in order that treasure is not lost to the nation by being sold privately.

  2. I think that's much the same in all ancient towns. In Cahors (quite near here) they had a huge dig prior to building an underground car park. Nothing much was found. I don't approve of farmers just ploughing stuff in, but I can understand their motives.

  3. We have a problem here, where many caves are being closed down in order to prevent a virus being spread to the bats. Apparently it's quite serious, a sort of fungus-like growth that slowly covers their face, preventing them from eating, etc. Sadly, the cave I wrote about in my book is currently closed. I'd love to go see it, but can't. A real shame.

  4. I've not heard about that, Amy. We have Pipistrelle bats nesting in the walls of the house. Beautiful little creatures.


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