The Art

A Parade of Prehistoric Animals

The exceptional quality, size, sophistication, and antiquity of the works at Lascaux have led to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its classification as the premier example of Paleolithic art.

Enigmatic symbols and hauntingly beautiful depictions of bison, deer, horses, cattle—and even animals now extinct to the region, such as the rhinoceros—populate the many passageways that make up the Lascaux cave complex:

  • The Hall of Bulls is dominated by two enormous bulls standing face to face, one of which measures 16 x 13 feet (5 x 4 meters)—the largest cave-art animal yet found.
  • The Nave presents a succession of magnificent works, many reproduced for the first time within the Museum exhibition, including The Crossed Bison Panel—a prehistoric attempt at perspective drawing.
  • The Shaft includes animal figures, abstract signs, and the only human figure (perhaps a dying hunter or god) found within the cave system.

In many sections of the cave, images were written and “erased” like a chalkboard, or repeatedly repainted for millennia, generation after generation. Why? Although there are many theories regarding ritual and religion, the purpose of these masterpieces remains a mystery.