Before there were artists at the famous caves of Lascaux, there were artists at Chauvet and Cosquer—two caves whose paleolithic drawings remained undiscovered until the 1990s. Chauvet, in southeast France, is the most ancient; some of its vivid panels of horses, lions, and rhinoceri (beautifully reproduced here) are as much as 31,000 years old. Cosquer, buried for 20 centuries beneath the Mediterranean, was serendipitously discovered by a diver for whom the cave is named. Some of the Cosquer drawings date back 27,000 years. In Dawn of Art: The Chauvet Cave, a series of experts in prehistory discuss the nature of the cave and the remarkable paintings found on its walls. In The Cave Beneath the Sea: Paleolithic Images at Cosquer (Trans. by Marilyn Garner; Abrams; $60.000; May; 200 pp.; ISBN 0-8109-4033-7), the two archaeologists who explored the cave review their journey into the treacherous space and the wonders they found—drawings that echo the humanity of the prehistoric artist across otherwise silent millennia.
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