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The mysterious caves that were inhabited 8,000 years ago and are just a three-hour drive from Spain

In the south of France, about three hours away by car from the border with Spain, is the Saint-Marcel caveone of the great tourist attractions in the area, and which is surrounded by an aura of mystery.

And these are caves more than 64 kilometers long that were occupied by humans more than 8,000 years ago. How they did it, without lighting and avoiding the dangers of the cave, such as its deep wells, is a mystery.

A recent study published by the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory reveals what he does 8,000 years ago there was great human activity in caves, which raises “the question of cave knowledge in that prehistoric period, (humans’) ability to explore and cross shafts, and their mastery of illumination.”



Street in Bausen, a town northwest of the Arán Valley, in Lleida.

The study “brings to light the commitment of past human communities to the deep underground environment, which can only be accessed by crossing obstacles (wells) that, today, are considered difficult to cross.”

In October 1836, a hunter from Aiguèze, in search of a wounded rabbit, followed its tracks and discovered the cave. Then, in July 1838, the hunter returned to the site with friends with the aim of exploring the hole, this time equipped with torches. Upon returning from their exploration of the cavity, they described its size and the variety of concretions.

Years later, Edouard-Alfred Martelconsidered the father of modern caving, dedicated an entire chapter to the cave in his book Les Abîmespublished in 1894, which contained a complete and detailed description of the then-known parts of the cave.

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