For a long time, these images were considered cloudy and incomprehensible, but the German archaeologist suddenly realized how they should be viewed.
This story took place many years ago, but it still excites the imagination of archaeologists. And ours too!
It was in caves with Paleolithic drawings in the south of France. German archaeologist Edward Wachtel went to see if there was anything new there.
These places are very famous for archaeologists who constantly make discoveries there. Especially the Lascaux cave. It is even called the “Sistine Chapel of Primitive Painting”. The cave was accidentally discovered by the boys in 1940, when they climbed between the roots of a fallen pine tree.
As you can imagine, in those days there was no time for archeology. However, after the Second World War, researchers came to the cave and, to put it mildly, were dumbfounded. The huge central lobby was adorned with gorgeous color images of animals. A layer of marble in the rocks protected the cave from moisture, and the drawings have been preserved in their original form.
Of course, shortly after this discovery, tourists tumbled into the cave in a rampart. At the height of its popularity, the Lasko cave was visited by up to a thousand people a day. From such an influx, the microclimate inside the cave was disturbed, and the drawings began to disappear. Archaeologists have sounded the alarm. After numerous attempts to limit the flow of tourists and install air conditioning, which did not lead to anything, the cave was permanently closed to visitors.
However, the ban, of course, does not apply to archaeologists on an individual basis. Edward Vachtel received the coveted admission in 1993 and was very happy about the upcoming meeting with the beautiful. The Paleolithic Chapel did not disappoint.
However, even more than the magnificent drawings in the central hall, Edward was interested in engraving animals in narrow, inaccessible passages in the back streets of Lascaux. The fact is that in one perspective they were very similar to the silhouettes of animals carved on stone walls from other Neolithic caves in the south of France. The images seemed to cross parallel lines.
“How and why were they made?” Edward wondered. Analysis showed that the lines were drawn at the same time as the main drawings. However, they made the silhouettes of the animals difficult to distinguish. It looked like someone was trying to cross out the work of the previous artist, but they did it very carefully.
Also, some of the images had multiple heads or clearly more legs than Earth anatomy suggests.
Before we tell you the answer, we give you 7 more famous archaeological mysteries for free!
Vachtel figured out this secret by accident. Once, during his travels, he went to inspect a very small cave, which contained very primitive drawings. Tourists were not even aware of its existence. The archaeologist was taken to the cave by a local farmer. Instead of a flashlight, he took with him an old oil lamp.
It should be noted here that Edward examined all the previous famous caves in a special bright electric light, which made it possible to see the smallest details. Scientists were provided with all conditions for work. And here…
And then, moving from one picture to another in the flickering light of the lamp, which so resembled the light of primitive lamps available to primitive people, Vachtel suddenly saw a miracle. The drawings came to life!
From different angles in the flickering light, mysterious parallel lines appeared and disappeared, as if the grass was swaying, and animals were walking in it! Two heads of the antelope also appeared alternately – there was a feeling that the animal was grazing and suddenly raised its head upon hearing the hunter. Numerous legs created a running effect.
“So this is what primitive people were doing in the long galleries of the caves!” – it dawned on Vachtel. They walked slowly along the frescoes with torches and … watched cartoons!
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