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February 2022

The Cosquer cave comes ashore

  • Cosquer-Méditerranée is the eagerly awaited replica of that gem of Palaeolithic cave art, the Cosquer cave. From June 2022, everyone will be able to enjoy this outstanding but endangered piece of prehistoric heritage.
Avec une restitution du site presque grandeur nature, la Villa Méditerranée fait de ce rêve phocéen une réalité. Un lieu de patrimoine, de science en action et de rencontre, vivant et populaire.

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

Cosquer en dates :

1985 : découverte de l’entrée de la galerie menant à la grotte.

1991 : révélation, authentification, déclaration du site au DRASSM (Département des recherches archéologiques et subaquatiques sous-marines), première expertise.

1992 : classement au titre des monuments-historiques.

1995-2000 : aménagements du site.

2010 : travail de numérisation de la grotte.

2014 : 513 figurines identifiées. Inventaire toujours en cours, en raison de la complexité de la topographie, de la superposition des tracés.

2016 : début des relevés 3D.

2021 : lancement d’une campagne de fouilles d’urgence…

2022 : ouverture le 4 juin.


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