19 000 years ago
The discovery of the monumental Lascaux cave in 1940 brought with it a new era in our knowledge of both prehistoric art and human origins. Today, the cave continues to feed our collective imagination
and to profoundly move new generations of visitors from around the world.
Virtual visit to the cave
To celebrate this prehistoric wonder, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication's is pleased to present its latest multimedia publication – an update of the original Lascaux website,
which was first put on line in 1998. The new site has been entirely reworked in both form and content, reflecting the latest advances in archaeological research. Visitors to the site are presented with a three-dimensional digital version of the cave, which allows them to go from room to room, completely immersed in the site. As they travel from the Great Hall of the Bulls all the way to the Shaft of the Dead Man, they can stop at each of the many images, read descriptions, play video sequences and examine overlay lines that helpfully reveal some of the more difficult to identify figures. A zoom feature enables visitors to get as close as possible to the walls that these talented Neolithic artists decorated.
The virtual tour is only one part of the visitor's experience – other video sequences reveal the secrets of the artists who painted and engraved Lascaux's bestiary some 19,000 years ago, and present current trends in archaeological research on the cave. Other chapters of the site explore different ways of considering the site, including Lascaux's natural environment in the Vézère Valley, a rock art timeline, a database that brings together a selection of documents from the National Centre for Prehistory, the Architecture and Heritage Media Library and other institutions. In all, visitors to the site have access to more than three hundred documents, including photographs, site drawings, video sequences, sound recordings, 3D animations, maps and so on.
A delicate balance
The Lascaux site is also world-famous for the delicate balance of its climate and for the threats to its long-term preservation. The web site also discusses the measures that have taken since 2001 (including treatments, preventive conservation, a digital simulator, a research programme and the creation of a safe zone around the Lascaux valley) to deal with recent microbiological contamination.
The site is available in French, English, Spanish, German and French sign language. It features educational resources for school groups (teaching data sheets geared for various levels, as well as games created with the help of the Pôle international de la Préhistoire).
The web site was created by Norbert Aujoulat under the leadership of the National Centre for Prehistory, and is part of the "Great Archaeological Sites" collection.
Prix international : Webby Award 2000 / FWA 2009