Visit the cave

plan de la grotte du pech merle

In the text : BP means "before present"
means that the item is shown in the Museum
means that the item appears in the movie shown in the Museum

Photos : © R. Delon - Reproduction prohibited

1 - Entrance

The stairs were carved in 1923.
Downstairs, on the right, you can see the tunnel dug into the scree which closed the palaeolithic entrance at about 10,000 ( BP, M )


2 - The Black Frieze

Red marks : iron oxide, perhaps 25,000 BP. Black drawings : manganese oxide (perhaps charcoal ?), perhaps 20,000 BP. 1 horse, 4 bison, 11 mammoths, 4 aurochs.
(M, F)


3 - On the ledge

Right below : the dotted horses. Left, in black : 2 bison, 1 mammoth, perhaps 20,000 BP. Downstairs, left, in black : bisons, mammoths, a mammoth in natural relief, perhaps 20,000 ( BP )



4 - The ceiling

Finger drawings, (several periods). The ceiling was reached by climbing the blocks. Open circle, mammoths, female human figures (M+F).
Right, on the blocks, in black : down : a mammoth ; up : a bison, perhaps 20,000 ( BP ).

5 - The hall of the discs

Each disc is composed of two calcite slabs separated by a very small gap. They were formed at a hairline crack in the rock. The water, laden with calcium carbonate, came up through capillary action and deposited the calcite on the rim. The calcite crystallized in concentric circles.
Left : hyena bones and fossilized excrements. ( M ).
Right : a scratch made by a bear (M).
Right, at the end of the hall, before going upstairs : a large disc ; see the two slabs and the small gap.


6 - Footprints

A dozen prints, in two directions, of an adolescent boy.
The authenticity of these prints is guaranteed by the fact that the prehistoric entrance was sealed off at the thawing of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 BP. (M+F)

7 - The bear's gallery

End of the low level of the cave. This gallery has very old columns formed in an early phase of concretion and eroded by later activity.
We are deep within the hillside and about 50 metres underground. The dome is about 11 metres from the floor of the cave.

8 - The bear's passage

Originally it was a crawling passage. The floor level was lowered for the visits and the resulting rubble piled up on either side. Left, engraving : a bear's head, perhaps 13,000
( BP,  M )

9 - The wounded man

Left, above : the discovery passage comes out. The "wounded man" : left, under the dome, in red, drawing of a man with four lines on either side and a sign. ( M + F )
Beside, in red : an auroch, some signs.
Left, in red, a mountain goat.

10 - The cave pearls

The water falls from an opening in the ceiling during heavy rainfalls.This intermittent waterfall carries with it sand and gravels.
When these are trapped in small cavities in the pool, they are coated with calcite while they are polished by the action of the running water. More unusual is the "spinning-top". (F)

11 - The bison-woman

Right, in red : a red deer's head.
Left, below, in red : a stencilled hand with 13 dots.
Left, below, in red : female figures, dots, mammoth. (M)

12 - The dotted horse

Left, in black : a bison, perhaps 20,000 BP. The dotted horses about 25,000 BP (radiocarbon dated) (M+F).
Right-hand horse : his small head is drawn in the natural cut of the rock, resembling a horse's head. On his back : a large red fish (it seems to be a pike) (M+F).
Six stencilled black hands all around the horses. Black dots inside and outside. Red dots. Left-hand horse, in red : 7 hook-like signs (M).

14 - The Combel gallery

The tunnel is dug through the scree which blocked the palaeolithic entrance.
The root of an oak-tree, still alive (upstairs when you go to the tickets-office, three trunks with a white question mark).
Notice the bear's lairs dug in the clay.
Bones found in the cave are shown : bear, hyena, horse, bison, cervidae, etc... (M).


14 bis - The Combel gallery (continuation)

The Combel gallery continues (no access during the tour) with paintings of the old phase (about 25,000 BP) : dots, horses, lion, cervidae.

Others painted caves in the Lot-Cele area