As the French regional newspaper La Provence reported on Wednesday, the paintings were discovered on a cliff in the Mercantour National Park in the French Maritime Alps, only about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the "Vallee des Merveilles," or the "Valley of Wonders," which is known for its some 40,000 Stone Age rock engravings.
The newly discovered paintings, which are estimated to be 4,000 years old, depict warriors, combat operations and funerals. The President of the Mediterranean Alps Institute of Prehistory and Archaeology Prehistory, Claude Salicis, is enthusiastic about the find. As he reported to the newspaper Nice-Matin, until this new find, only two paintings of this type had been identified in the entire district. "Here we have 120 at once. That means that this site is one of the most important in all of Provence," he said.
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According to Salicis, the Stone Age painters ground up the local sedimentary rock, mixed it with colored pigments and applied their motifs with their fingers. Marcel and Loic Pietri, father and son, discovered the paintings while climbing. The cliff that overlooks the hamlet of La Roche has been used for hiking and climbing for a number of years, but they were the first to notice the works. The two explorers are deeply rooted in their home region and know the area around Valdeblore near the Italian border very well.
A sacred location for Ligurian warriors
Lime was removed from the rock face several times in the past. Certainly some prehistoric works were destroyed. Salicis suspects that the cliff was a sacred place for the Celto-Ligurian warriors of the Neolithic Age.
Unlike the famous Lascaux cave paintings in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, the newly discovered works have been exposed to wind and weather for thousands of years. Nevertheless, the scenes are clearly recognizable. Traces of humans and "archaic human species," as they are called, go back up to a million years in the French Mediterranean region.
Author Philipp Jedicke
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