Sacre Coeur Street Performer

Sacre Coeur Street Performer

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Caves at Niaux (Grotte de Niaux)

List of some of the things we learned and experienced in The Caves of Niaux
-Compiled by Lisa, Kaizen, Soleil and Barbara
1. The Niaux cave is in the heart of the Pyrenees Mountains.
2. Flashlights are required though they are not allowed in the dark room only LED flashflights as LED flashlights don’t create much heat and the heat can destroy the paintings by allowing algae or moss to grow.
3. The difference between the oldest and the youngest paintings in the caves
4. We most common animal depicted is the bison, which is specific to Niaux. Generally the horse is the most popular.
5. The paintings are made with oxide of manganese (black) or charcoal and hemiotyte (red) mixed with water and animal fat.
6. The prehistoric people went inside with fat lamps (or candles); the flickering of the candles made the paintings have the appearance of movement
7. The animals depicted in the l’ariage caves (beside one weasel) are bison, horse, mountain goat or ibex, and deer.
8. The paintings were done by a type of prehistoric man referred to as the Magdalen men named for the name of the first cave in which their paintings were found.
9. There is a lot of graffiti with names and dates. The oldest graffiti found in the cave is from 1602 and the oldest one we saw was from 1652.
10. In 1902 the cave was officially discovered and dated as “prehistoric” though it was visited by locals since the 1600 who were unaware of the importance of the cave drawings.
11. The entrance we used is an artificial entrance, which was built because the natural entrance is too small to comfortably enter and often floods.
12. The cave is 2 km deep though the primary room we visited was only 800 metres in and is named the Salon Noir (or the Black Room).

13. At the time of our visit, there was one bat living in the cave.

14. The prehistoric artists used the natural shape of the rocks to give life to the paintings.
15. It is not known why the prehistoric people went deep into the cave to paint but it’s definite that they painters came into the cave for the sole purpose of painting because there were no other signs of the caves having been lived in; It is possible that any such evidence could have taken them before the cave was protected.

16. Every single painting in the cave –there are approximately 80– is done by a different person, and they know this based on stylistic studies.
17. Many of the paintings have specific signs and symbols, which are found only on the paintings in the caves of the Pyrenees region. Some of the symbols look like dots and lines and little is known about their meaning.

18. Some of the depicted Bison are illustrated them as if they are dead while others appear to be living.Bison specialists have been brought in to see if there was any new information they could find and they were able to determine the gender of the animals. Distinctive gender difference may or may not have been intended by the painters.

19. About 30 years ago there was a water intrusion problem in the caves, which washed away some of the paintings in the Black Room. In order to remedy the problem, pipes were added to redirect the water.

Pictures were not allowed so this one is borrowed from the web:


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