Approximately 150 meters above the meandering Ardeche river in France sits an uncharacteristically large limestone cave. Inside, two torches are illuminating a space seventy-five feet from the cave entrance. On the soft clay-like floor, a young woman is pensively cooking meat over a fire, seasoning it with native herbs from the grasslands nearby.
Finely made tools, neatly arranged, rest near a couple of wooden carved animal figurines – their tiny shadows dancing with the flickering light. As the woman turns the meat, she’s humming and adoringly watching the two men in her life scrape the adjacent cave wall clear of debris and concretions. The wall is becoming noticeably lighter and smoother.
The task almost complete, the little one – a boy no older than 4 – hands his father a short stick whose end has been roughly carved into a point. On the earthen floor sits a number of bowls containing pigments derived from ochre, hematite, manganese oxide and charcoal.
The father takes the stick – a smile and glance to the mother of his child as well – and dips its end into the ochre-like substance. He begins to smear an outline of a wild horse on a slight wall protuberance, his son watching every move. The mother comes over, puts her arm around the boy’s shoulder and kisses his head. She says something to the father who nods in agreement.
The beauty of God’s natural creation is being illustrated by skilled hands on a wall in a cave – an artist at work – and reverently observed by a family united in love.
The nearest torch also lights up the adjoining wall which angles in at thirty degrees and connects to their current “canvas.” It is this area where one sees paintings of hyenas, mammoths, panthers and bison – even hand prints. It’s a veritable “museum exhibit” of prehistoric art.