Friday 13 August 2010

Several young lads of Montignac...

A Remarkable Painted Cave on the Estate of Lescaux (Montignac, Dordogne)

Nature 147, 12-13 (04 January 1941)

In mid-September 1940, several young lads of Montignac,  MM. Ravitat, Marsal, Quacroy, Cuancas, and Estracgil, encouraged by a retired schoolmaster of the town, M. Laval, to explore underground passages in the neighbourhood, cleared out a shaft leading vertically from a plateau to the east of the town. This shaft had been filled up to prevent cattle falling in and only a narrow passage led to the bottom, ending in a hollow into which the young explorers slid after having enlarged it. Descending a slope of fallen boulders, they discovered that some of those fallen from the vault of the first hall were decorated with magnificent frescoes which continued down a narrow alley leading out of it. M. Estracgil made several sketches of these, which he showed to M. Laval, who was at first sceptical about them. Whereupon M. Maurice Thaon, a good sportsman and draughtsman, whom I had known since his childhood, and to whom, a few days earlier, I had shown the painted caves of Font-de-Gaume and La Mouthe, at Les Eyzies, was taken to the cave by the youthful discoverers, and brought careful drawings and some tracings to me.

Discoverers Jacques Marsal and Marcel Ravidat with Abbe Breuil and teacher Mr. Laval at the entrance of the cave