Lascaux: A Summary Discovery and Condition Dating Layout of Lascaux Cave The Hall of the Bulls The Axial Gallery (Also called the Painted Gallery) The Passageway The Apse The Shaft of the Dead Man The Nave The Mondmilch (Moonmilk) Gallery The Chamber of the Felines The Cave Art Art Materials Paint Pigments Paint Brushes Drawing, Painting, Engraving Techniques Meaning and Interpretation Related Articles During the Upper Paleolithic period, which began about 40,000 BCE, Neanderthal Man was replaced by a more "modern" version of Homo sapiens.
At the same time, prehistoric art took a massive leap forward, as exemplified by the cave painting of western Europe, that reached its apogee on the walls and ceilings of Lascaux Cave (France) and Altamira Cave (Spain), both of which contain some of the greatest examples of Franco-Cantabrian cave art, from the Solutrean-Magdalenian era, dating to between 17,000 and 15,000 BCE.
In total, Lascaux's galleries and passageways - extending about 240 metres in length - contain some 2,000 images, about 900 of which are animals, and the remainder geometric symbols of varying shapes.
The sheer number of images, their size and exceptional realism, as well as their spectacular colours, is why Lascaux (like Altamira) is sometimes referred to as "The Sistine Chapel of Prehistory".
Like the Chauvet Cave paintings, Lascaux's cave art was protected by a landslide which sealed off access to the cave around 13,000 BCE.
Not long after its opening in 1948, Pablo Picasso paid a visit and was amazed at the quality of the cave's rock art, saying that man had learned nothing new since then.
Curiously, what is now France's oldest known prehistoric cave art - the Abri Castanet Engravings (c.35,000 BCE) - was discovered recently at a site less than 7 miles from Lascaux.
To understand how Lascaux's cave painting fits into the evolution of Stone Age culture, see: Prehistoric Art Timeline.Alternatively, to compare Lascaux with the earliest caves, see: El Castillo Cave Paintings (39,000 BCE).In 1979, Lascaux was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, together with another 147 prehistoric sites and 25 decorated caves located in the Vezere Valley of the Correze and Dordogne regions.In 1963, due to continuing environmental problems inside the cave, Lascaux was closed to the public.In 1983, an exact replica of the Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery - created under Monique Peytral and known as "Lascaux II" - was opened a few hundred metres from the original cave, and it is this replica that visitors see today.In addition, a full range of Lascaux's parietal art can be viewed at the Centre of Prehistoric Art, located close by at Le Thot.