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?