Cosquer Cave

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Cosquer Cave
Cosquer Cave
cross section with entrance tunnel and current sea level
Cosquer Cave in France
Cosquer Cave in France
Location in France
Cosquer Cave in France
Cosquer Cave in France
Cosquer Cave (France)
LocationCalanque de Morgiou in Marseille
RegionMidi, France
Coordinates43°12′10″N 5°26′57″E / 43.20278°N 5.44917°E / 43.20278; 5.44917Coordinates: 43°12′10″N 5°26′57″E / 43.20278°N 5.44917°E / 43.20278; 5.44917
Site notes
Excavation dates1991
ArchaeologistsHenri Cosquer

The Cosquer Cave is located in the Calanque de Morgiou in Marseille, France, near Cap Morgiou. The entrance to the cave is located 37 m (121 ft) underwater, due to the Holocene sea level rise. The cave contains various prehistoric rock art engravings. Its submarine entrance was discovered in 1985 by Henri Cosquer, a professional diver. The underwater passage leading to the cave was progressively explored till 1990 by cave divers without the divers being aware of the archaeological character of the cave. It is only in the last period (1990-1991) of the progressive underwater explorations that the cave divers emerged in the non-submerged part of the cave. The prehistoric paintings were not immediately discovered by the divers to first emerge from the other side of the sump. The cave was named after Henri Cosquer, when its existence was made public in 1991, after that three divers became lost in the cave and died.[1]


The cave can now be accessed by divers through a 175 m (574 ft) long tunnel; the entrance is located 37 m (121 ft) below sea level, which has risen since the cave was inhabited. During the glacial periods of the Pleistocene, the shore of the Mediterranean was several kilometers to the south and the sea level up to 100 m (330 ft) below the entrance of the cave.

Prehistoric paintings[edit]

Stencil of human hand, Cosquer Cave, 27,000 years B.P.

Four fifths of the cave, including any cave wall art, were permanently or periodically submerged and destroyed by sea water. 150 instances of cave art remain,[2] including several dozen paintings and carvings dating back to the Upper Paleolithic, corresponding to two different phases of occupation of the cave:

  • Older art consisting of 65 hand stencils and other related motifs, dating to 27,000 years BP (the Gravettian Era).
  • Newer art of signs and 177 animals dating to 19,000 years BP (the Solutrean Era), representing both "classical" animals such as bison, ibex, and horses, but also marine animals such as auks and a man with a seal's head.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cave Art Paintings of the Cosquer Cave". Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  2. ^ "Newsletter of the Colorado Rock Art Association". Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  3. ^ "The Cave Paintings of the Cosquer Cave in France".
  • Jean Clottes, Jean Courtin, La grotte Cosquer, Seuil, 1994, ISBN 2-02-019820-7 (French)
  • Jean Clottes, Jean Courtin, Luc Vanrell, Cosquer redécouvert, Seuil, 2005, ISBN 2-02-065550-0 (French)
  • The Cave Beneath the Sea: Paleolithic Images at Cosquer by Jean Clottes and Jean Courtin (1996) Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York ISBN 0-8109-4033-7 English translation by Marilyn Garner from the French edition

External links[edit]