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Grottes de Gargas, Hautes-Pyrenees
(4.1/5 based on 35+ reviews on the web)
The Caves of Gargas in the Pyrenees region of France are known for their cave art from the Upper Paleolithic period - about 27,000 years old.The caves are open to the public.LocationThe caves are located near the town of Aventignan in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in south-western France, at the edge of the Haute-Garonne close to Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges.HistoryHuman occupationThe caves have yielded evidence of occupation from the Mousterian to the Middle Ages, but it is most famous for its paintings and engravings of the Upper Paleolithic.The paintings have numerous negative hand stencils made by the stencil technique. The hands are red or black, using a mixture of iron oxide and manganese crushed with animal fat, and sprayed around the hand against the wall. Some have one or more fingers absent which lead to hypotheses of diseases, frostbite and ritual amputation, but most researchers prefer the symbolism of bending one or more fingers.Many figurative engravings are also present in other parts of the caves, depicting horses, bison, aurochs, ibex and mammoth. Carbon-14 dating of a bone stuck in a crack in a wall decorated with hand stencils revealed close to 27,000 years BP, indicating that the cave was frequented in the Gravettian period. It is surmised that the Hands paintings probably date from this period.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • great place to explore the colorful hands. If the guide that brought us back in the past was passionate and exciting, the Group was too many and the visit qq bit in fast forward... Interactive Museum to Nice for picnics in the summer before the visit, don't forget to book on pain of not being able to access the caves.
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  • Our guide, Nicolas, has been great... He took the time to answer the wacky questions of my son and the very important issue of girl. My son was disappointed because he found that the visit (1 h) was too short and yet it has only 6 years. It's a magical place :) We also made the Museum, and children are exploded. The family as a very good memory.
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  • A magical cave because hundreds of traces of hands left so sharp on the walls make this place "inhabited" by these adults and children; as if they'd just leave... To visit if you're nearby!
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