The inventors of Lascaux
© Dan Courtice

Marcel Ravidat

Jacques Marsal

Georges Agniel

Simon Coencas

There were four of them and a dog

The inventors of Lascaux, Those are four teenagers : Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agniel and Simon Coencas. And a dog : Robot. Before this famous discovery, each of them lived a very different life. Marcel Ravidat and Jacques Marsal are children of the country, people from Montignac who know the region perfectly. Georges Agniel, comes from Paris to spend vacations with his maternal grandmother, while Simon Coencas, to escape the horrors of war, takes refuge in Montignac-Lascaux with her family. The date of September 12, 1940, the date ofa great discovery, will seal forever a unique link between these four young men. 

Besides, do you know why we talk about inventors and not discoverers? In archaeology, an inventor is a person who discovers an important site or object, a treasure of sorts. And what a treasure! The Lascaux cave is one of the most impressive discoveries of the 20th century. She will teach us a lot about our ancestors et parietal art

A discovery worthy of an adventure story! 

We are in 1940. . The Second World War wreaked havoc in Dordogne, France and everywhere else. Preserved from the turmoil of war, the quiet village of Montignac-Lascaux, in the heart of Périgord Noir, is preparing to a major discovery. A discovery that will forever change its history. 

Le September 8, 1940, Marcel Ravidat walks on the hill of Lascaux. Robot, his dog, disappears into a hole caused by a falling tree. Curious, Marcel approaches it and spots a narrow cavity. He throws a stone into it, which rolls and rolls again into the depths. He knows it, under his feet something is hidden, a discovery, but he doesn't know which one yet. Marcel remembers local stories, telling thatan underground gallery would lead to the Lascaux manor. This former agricultural and wine estate would contain a treasure that the whole region is talking about. 

Four days later, the 12 September, Marcel Ravidat returns to the hill in the company of three comrades: Jacques Marsal, Georges Agniel et Simon Coencas. They are determined to discover what this cavity hides. They enlarge and slip into the cavity… In the darkness are revealed before their eyes walls covered with animal representations. Horses, bison, bulls, deer… It's a whole bestiary, High Color, and extremely well preserved which comes alive by the light of the lamps. They have just discovered one of the oldest and most important testimonies of human history and cave art. 

Informed of this discovery by the adolescents, Leon Laval, teacher from Montignac-Lascaux shares this with Father Breuil. Big specialist in prehistory for the time, he formalized the discovery of the Lascaux cave and gave it its nickname of Sistine Chapel of Prehistory, as its animal representations are exceptional. The formula becomes famous and the small village of Montignac-Lascaux, nestled in the depths of the Dordogne and Périgord Noir, finally emerges from the shadows. Visitors flock from all over France to see with their own eyes, this masterpiece of parietal art. This is the beginning of the great story of the Lascaux cave

For a moment, become an inventor of Lascaux

Who never dreamed of participate in such a discovery ? The time-traveling watch does not yet exist, but here we have what you need to allow you to to become an inventor from Lascaux The Instant On A Time. 

Begin your discovery with a walk Montignac-Lascaux. Departing from the Tourist Office, the walk “In the footsteps of the inventors of Lascaux” will lead you on the path borrowed by Marcel Ravidat and his comrades in September 1940. Starting from the center of the village, this walk will take you step by step to the hill where the entrance to the Lascaux cave was discovered.

To go even further, opt for a visit to Lascaux II, first reproduction of the original cave. In the dark, lit by the light of a torch, a guide will tell you the secrets of the cave and its representations. His character intimate and confidential, mixed with the atmosphere of the visit, will immerse you in the conditions of exploration. Guaranteed emotion.  

And if your curiosity pushes you to learn even more, why not visit Lascaux IV – International Center for Cave Art. This last reproduction, meticulous and with great fidelity to the original reveals everything you need to know about this world-renowned cave. 

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