After breakfast at the hotel, Mr. Harold Dibble gave us an introduction to Paleolithic art. The upper Paleolithic is divided into 4 periods: Magdalenian, Solutrean, Gavettian, and the Aurignacian based on the types of tools produced. Then there is portable art; personal adornment, decorated tools and weapons, and human figurines. Cave art is primarily animal art. It frequently uses the topography of the cave walls and ceilings. Common figures are bison, horses, aurochs (an extinct cattle), reindeer, and deer.
We were given a tour of the National Museum of Prehistory. It was renovated in 2004 and was a terrific experience. There are stone tools, bone and ivory art, reconstructions, sculptures, and a wealth of other things. We viewed some of the lamps that were used to light the caves. Most of them were shallow bowls small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. One of the most fantastic had a handle with a few lines for decoration on it. It looked something like a quarter cup measuring scoop. These little lamps must have provided more shadow than light in the otherwise dark caves.
After lunch we went Font de Gaume, our first cave, and it was the actual cave. Many of the caves have had to be closed for preservation reasons. We will later visit some replicas. Font de Gaume is known for it’s frieze of bisons. Many of the animals depicted in the cave are polychromatic (many color). The colors are black, red and yellow, and are mineral pigments.
We then went to Cap Blanc,