Marseille, France, Jun 4 (EFE).- A replica of the Cosquer Cave has opened at a museum in southern France in a bid to preserve the more than 500 examples of prehistoric art that decorate its walls and which will be swallowed up by rising sea levels.
The cave, which is only accessible through an underwater tunnel, was discovered by diver Henri Cosquer in 1985, who became the first person to set eyes on the 30,000-year-old artworks inside the chamber.
The important collection includes hand stencils and depictions of animals including horses, seals, auks and jellyfish.
A reconstruction of the cave opened at the Villa Méditerranée in Marseille, which houses a museum collection that, among other things, documents the humans that perhaps once lived in the cave.
The entrance to the real Cosquer Cave, some 15 kilometers outside Marseille, is located 37 meters below sea level, making its access difficult and dangerous.
In order to access the main chamber of the cave, a diver must be able to navigate through a shaft rising 116 meters.
It took Cosquer several attempts to access the cave and his discovery was not made public until 1991.
Three divers died in their attempts to explore the underwater cavern, prompting French authorities to prohibit access to those without an official permit.
Researchers have studied the cave’s topography and artwork meticulously over the last three decades, the head of the museum’s culture and science department, Gabriel Beraha, told Efe.
“It’s the only known cave in Marseille and in southeast France, although it is possible there are others that have yet to be discovered in the area,” he added.
The cave was accessible from the coast 30,000 years ago and would have stood between 4 and 5 kilometers from the shore.
At the end of the Ice Age, however, the sea levels rose to submerge the cave’s entrance and parts of its interior.
Rising sea levels in the future will eventually swallow up the cave, and its paintings, in their entirety. EFE