The cave beneath Cap Morgiou near Cassis was discovered in 1985 by diver Henri Cosquer. It is practically inaccessible to ordinary mortals, the entrance being 37m underwater. Now, after 30 years of research and reconstruction, we can all see the Cosquer cave without wetting our feet. While the site itself is in peril owing to rising sea levels, its replica, complete with all 500 rock paintings and engravings, will be amazing visitors for many years to come. In Marseille, scientists, experts and highly skilled craftspeople have been hard at work to replicate the cave walls and their decorations in a glass-walled building that seems to float on the water beside the Mucem museum. The explanatory tour and well-staged displays cover prehistory, the (life-size! fauna of those times, scuba diving, and today’s rising sea levels. There are film shows, a shop and bookshop, café-restaurant, lecture hall, meeting rooms and science resource space. The project is sponsored by the Kléber Rossillon group (which manages cultural and tourist sites) and partly funded by the PACA regional authority. The building’s transformation is down to the visionary imagination of architects Corinne Vezzoni et Associés.
The aim of Cosquer Méditerranée is to “meet the need to adapt our region to climate change”, says Renaud Muselier. Marseille, the Region and the French Government are proud to possess and to fund an archaeological treasure of such worldwide importance.
By Caroline Guiol