Prehistoric Images and Medicines Under the Sea
by Jean Clottes, Jean Courtin, Luc Vanrell
We can now state that the Cosquer Cave used to be one of the most important cave art sites in Europe, comparable to Lascaux, Trois-Frères, Altamira or Chauvet. This is because we are only left with a small part of the art. Exploring the submerged passages and chambers has shown that between three quarters to four fifths of the whole network is now under water where the walls and vaults are corroded by the sea and by the shells and algae so that no painting or engraving could be preserved.
As all the parts of the cave which were accessible where the water did not reach are covered with engravings, finger flutings and drawings, we can assume that it was more or less the same in most of the submerged chambers: the level of the sea could not coincidentally have stopped just before the places where the art happened to be. Therefore there could originally have been anything between 400 and 800 animal figures in the cave.
The animals most often represented are the horses (63) sometimes entire, at other times with just their heads, then the ibex (28), the bison and aurochs (24) and the red deer (15) i.e. stags and does. The other animals are far more rare: 4 chamois, 2 megaloceros deer, 1 feline, 1 saiga antelope. Sea animals are fairly common (17), far more than in any other cave: 9 seals, 4 fish, 3 auks. We can add 20 animal figures that could not be identified precisely and 3 composite animals (i.e. with characteristics pertaining to different species).
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