Ancient stories come alive in the modern world

The story of the find of the Lascaux cave paintings seems surreal.

The finding of the cave

In September 1940 four teenagers with “Robot” their dog are hunting rabbits, and they are apparently looking for a legendary tunnel that leads to treasure.  “Robot” heads for a hole in the ground that has been revealed by a fallen uprooted tree. The boys widen the hole and climb down it.

“The descent was terrifying,” said the youngest of the boys, aged 14.  They came across a “cavalcade of animals” all who “seemed to be moving”. The boys try to keep the secret, but they talk and word gets out about the cave.  A teacher asks the boys to guard the cave, and this becomes a lifetime occupation of the youngest boy, Jacques Marsal, who became guardian and official guide of the caves.

Ancient reflect modern

The world tree is a universal symbol that connects the material to the spiritual worlds; to enter the spiritual world is usually via a tunnel in connection to the world tree; in ancient times a hound or wolf guarded the gateway between the worlds.

In the story an uprooted tree reveals the hole, found by a dog, to which the boys enter.

The cave is of hunting scenes; a place of initiation revealed by the footprints of mainly adolescent ancient boys throughout the cave.  A boy as part of his initiation enters these caves, undergoes a journey, at its end dies, and emerges as a man.

The boys were hunting rabbits and looking for treasure, they enter the cave, and at least one undergoes transformation as a responsible guardian of the cave.

How it has gone wrong

The cave reflects a connection between mankind, nature and his self; conveyed in the images portrayed in the cave art.  The images are under attack by a “Green Sickness” of fungus, and a “White Sickness” of calcite; a metaphor of the separation of man from nature?


4 responses to “Ancient stories come alive in the modern world

  1. “The images are under attack by a “Green Sickness” of fungus, and a “White Sickness” of calcite; a metaphor of the separation of man from nature?”

    There’s some sort of strange, deep, ‘magical’ feeling when you think that a cave so old that had been used to visualise rituals of ancient times and the connection with nature to mankind, still tells the story of this planet after all those years. Even though there is no one around to write down the sequel, nature took over to write perhaps the final chapter? A last warning to those who still have a connection to nature and not been corrupted by our society’s abstraction?

    Maybe we’ll find out if we ever reach the harmony of ancient times. Or the cave will get ‘fixed’, left to rot or demolished for business plans and we all forget about it.

    Whichever the answer, I’ll remember this cave from now on. Thanks for sharing this story :).

    • Hi Jiyuu, the more I look into the stories and discoveries of ancient cave art the more I am struck by their impact upon those that come into contact with them.

  2. Renard Moreau

    [ Smiles ] Very intriguing, Alex.

    • It certainly is, but then at Pech-Merle two boys discovered those caves with cave art, and that is also a location for the initiation of boys. The Nerja Cave in Spain was discovered by five boys out exploring, and is described as a site of an “academic bombshell”.

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