Cave Beneath the Sea

Jean Clottes, Author, Marilyn Garner, Translator, Jean Courtin, With
Jean Clottes, Author, Marilyn Garner, Translator, Jean Courtin, With ABRAMS $60 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8109-4033-8
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In 1991, French deep-sea diver Henri Cosquer discovered an underwater cave 120 feet below sea level near Marseilles containing Paleolithic paintings and engravings of animals, complex geometric signs, stenciled human hands and innumerable finger tracings. Once several miles inland, the cave's mouth became submerged when seas rose at the end of the last Ice Age some 12,000 years ago. French archeologists Clottes and Courtin took part in expeditions to the submerged cavern. Using radiocarbon tests, they dated some of the artwork to 27,000 years ago-9500 years earlier than the celebrated paintings of the Lascaux cave. Although the Cosquer cave's animal paintings do not seem nearly as powerful as those of Lascaux, the art and artifacts left behind by adventurous Homo sapiens hunters add up to an extraordinary find, as documented in this attractive album. Among the prehistoric artworks are pictures of plains horses, ibex, bison and the extinct deer called megaloceros; rare images of marine animals such as seals, auks and a fish; and an engraving of a killed man, his skull crushed by a spearhead-an image that suggests to the authors a murder or execution. Natural Science Book Club main selection. (May)
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