The Forgotten Cave: A Tale of Discovery
By accident they
stumbled into history. Four
teenage boys and a dog discovered the remnants of an ancient culture buried
underground. It was 1940 France,
and the war hadn’t quite reached their little village. Seventeen-year-old Marcel Ravidat was
desperate to escape boredom, so he invited three friends to go exploring in the
woods with him and his dog Robot.
Jaques Marsal was the youngest at fourteen, and he was eager to
accompany the most admired boy in Montignac. They were joined by two Parisians;
Georges Agnel was visiting his grandmother, and Simon Coencas, a Jewish boy,
had fled Paris to escape the Nazis.
As they walked down the path, Robot ran ahead after some animal and for
his trouble fell down a hole. When
the boys followed the little dog, they found something no human eye had seen in
tens of thousands of years.
I was drawn to
this story by its mysterious, almost fantastical quality. A group of normal teenagers stumble
accidentally into a different world.
I chose chalk pastels for their dusty texture. They evoke an atmospheric quality which complements the
sense of mystery. As I imagined
the sequence of events, it struck me that this is such a strong visual tale the
pictures communicate even without words.
The paintings at
Lascuax were not the first discovered, but they are arguably the most
important: they are the largest
group and best preserved examples of prehistoric art ever found. Although no one was able to properly
document the caves until after the war, the boys’ find changed the way the
public thought of prehistoric people forever. Not all significant historical finds are made by Ph.D.s
digging in the desert. Anyone can make