On Saturday we went to the movies. We had chosen to go and see the story of France’s Chauvet caves, discovered in 1994 by three men. There are several web pages about these extraordinary findings, and one can find the fantastic drawings on some of them.
The movie, directed by Werner Herzog, is called Cave of Forgotten Dreams and for those who don’t know about them these caves are absolutely extraordinary. The art work has been dated to be in the region of twenty-five to thirty-two thousand years old. This is at least twice as old as any other ever found, the other famous ones being the Lascaux caves, also in France.
Of the many images, two in particular have caught my imagination.
There are two rhinos fighting, their horns crossed like a couple of fencers squaring up.
I really had no idea what was wrong and decided on a shotgun treatment, a big dose of antibiotic and multivitamins. The challenge was how to get them into her. In the end I simply drove a long needle into the muscles on the backside and was astonished when she stood there eating the hay that her minders had given her.
Rhino are not the brightest start on the planet and it was only about half way through the treatment that she noticed my attentions. She began to walk away, and so my injections ended up being given “on the run”
My efforts did no good and when she died two days later Peter told me that she had a broken rib and a ruptured liver. It is amazing that she lived as long as she did., but the astonishing thing to look back upon is the power in the bull’s neck. The cow must have weighed close to 1500 kg!
I have taken this an extra step in my imagination. If you, as a child of about six or eight, are in the cave with your dad and suddenly hear the sound of running bison in the background, followed almost at once by the sight of a flare being waved in front of the animal on cave wall, the legs will come in and out of focus, just as if the animal is running. Are you holding on tight to your dad’s knee?
There are lots of other stunning images and the movie producers have done a good job of telling the story. The last set of pictures are not inside the caves, but are a spooky postscript about a nearby nuclear plant. I won’t tell you any more. Go and see the movie.