Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Cave of Forgotten Dreams

A couple of weeks ago, my husband turned on a documentary to watch late in the evening.  I wasn't intending to watch, but when I happened to glance at what he was watching, I was sucked in.  My children had fallen silent and mesmerized.  The film was called The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and it was about a cave full of Ice Age art recently (relatively, remember I've worked as an archaeological assistant, so recent tends to be a funny word for me)discovered in France.

For many, many years, this cave had been hidden from humankind, preserving the art, fossils and artifacts inside it.  In 1994, it was discovered by a trio of cave explorers.  Inside is a beautiful and powerful collection of images dating back tens of thousands of years.  We, as modern humans can never know for certain what the significance of the cave was to the people who created and used it, but we can assume that it was very important to them, as a great deal of time and effort was put into the art.  From other evidence of human activity in the cave, men, women and children are also represented.  The art is incredibly realistic, and depicts many creatures no longer walking the Earth.

It is during experiences like watching this film, or handling artifacts, that I truly appreciate our human ancestors, who were very much like us.  Anatomically, they were us.  They lived through the seasons, interacted with others, watched the suns rising and moon's rising, raised families, suffered misfortunes and sickness, celebrated life and eventually, died and returned to the Earth.  No matter how different the world looked then, we are connected- past and present and future- through the things, the ideas, and the relationships we leave behind.  In the case of the people of Chauvet- Pont D'Arc, we know through their art, which allows us to really see, in a rare, rare way, what their world looked like.

For me, I feel a sense of connection with one of the many artists of the cave, a man about 6 feet tall, whose name we will never know.  The connection is through a physical trait we both lived with, a crooked little finger, and a desire to share our worldview with others.  It comforts me to know that deep down, under the differences of culture and environment, humans can still connect with each other.  The artwork of the cave haunts my dreams, and I am certain the images from the film will live within me for a long time.

If you're interested, here are the links to the film and to the website:

The Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Chauvet Cave


  1. I love watching shows like that and will most certainly watch this one. I always have this lovely feeling like I'm stretching out my hand into the past to grab hold of some wonderful memory. Thank you for sharing. ^_^


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