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Visit the Paleolithic Cave at Lascaux

 
 

OTHER MINI-LESSONS

• Introduction: The Science of Caves

• Visit the Paleolithic Cave at Lascaux

• Caves in the United States

• Sea Caves

• Cave Animals

The Lascaux cave was discovered in 1940 by four teenagers. The cave is located in the Bordeaux region of France on the river Vézère. The Lascaux cave was discovered in 1940 by four teenagers. There are more than 100 Paleolithic caves in the region.
  1. The Lescaux cave is rich with things to discover. Each section of the cave has unique and fascinating depictions. Look at the map of the cave with your students. Separate your class into teams of cave explorers. Each team will learn about and report on their section of the cave.

    The sections of the Lascaux cave:
    The Painted Gallery
    The Great Hall of the Bulls
    The Chamber of Felines
    The Chamber of Engravings
    The Main Gallery
    The Shaft of the Dead Man

    Ask each team to work on one section of a guidebook to the cave, which will include drawings, photographs from Web sites, and highlights written by the students of each section of the cave.

  2. The cave drawings in the Lascaux cave originate from the prehistoric era — 15,000 to 13,000 BCE. The many paintings, drawings, and engravings give us insight into the world of these early people. Many of the cave images are of animals such as bulls, bison, and horses. This is very significant, as these early people were hunters. They relied on animals for food, for life itself. These drawings tell us about the lives of the people who made them.

    Make your classroom into a “Talking Wall.” After your explorer teams learn about Lascaux, give them a chance to record images from their own culture. Visit the Talking Wall site below and learn about the ways historical detectives learn about cultures by analyzing the images that those cultures leave behind.

    Cover a wall of your classroom with rolls of paper. Before you begin, encourage your students to imagine people discovering their drawings many centuries into the future. Ask your students which aspect of their lives they think is important enough to represent. Technology, government, food, and entertainment are some of the areas they may want to consider. Using only images such as drawings, photographs, or collages, your students can create a rich depiction of their daily lives. When it is finished, sit with your class in front of the mural and encourage them to talk about the images, and what they say about the class.

  3. The Lascaux cave was open to the public until 1963. After World War II, the entrance to the cave was widened for visitors and over a thousand people came to see it every day. By 1955 it was clear that the drawings were starting to become damaged. The carbon dioxide that the visitors breathed out was leading to the corrosion of the walls of the cave.

    Encourage your students to debate this problem: Human beings want to see and learn from the caves, but their visits are causing damage. Preservationists might see the solution one way, and tourists another. Brainstorm both sides of the argument. Does “saving” a cave mean keeping people away from it? Make a list of ideas that could help resolve the situation. For example, the authorities decide to make a replica of the main parts of the cave for tourists to visit.



USEFUL WEB SITES
The Cave of Lascaux
www.culture.fr/culture/arcnat/lascaux/en/


The Story of the Cave of Lescaux
www.richeast.org/htwm/las/las.html


The Cave Paintings at Lascaux
home.att.net/~alterity/RN_Images_Pages/Lascaux.html


Talking Walls
www.esc20.net/etprojects/formats/webquests/fall99/gates/