"La Grotte Cosquer, a masterpiece on borrowed time", this treasure under the creek

“La Grotte Cosquer, a masterpiece on borrowed time”, this treasure under the creek

Cosquer is one of the most mysterious places in the world: it is an underwater cathedral, thirty-three thousand years old, buried 37 meters deep. To access it, you must first cross a narrow gallery of 125 meters. An unfortunate stroke of the fins and the mud disperses in the siphon, blinding you instantly: in the early 1990s, three young, insufficiently supervised divers died there. Since then, the right to enter this treasure of humanity has been reserved for high-level scientific missions.

“A visit to the cave is an adventure of a lifetime”

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For her very beautiful documentary, Marie Thiry followed one of these teams. “A visit to the cave is an adventure of a lifetime”says Luc Vanrell, archaeologist diver, responsible for underwater research for twenty-five years. “An intervention lasts on average five hours, and we lose 3 kilos per outing”, he adds. A physical feat worthy of the enigmatic beauty of the place. From its origin, in the Palaeolithic, Cosquer was most certainly “a sanctuary”, according to the prehistorian Jacques Collina-Girard. Hence the richness of its ornamentation: more than 200 horses, aurochs or bison appear delicately drawn in charcoal on the walls. Much rarer, we also discover figures of penguins and seals, not to mention strange stencils, 65 handprints, 21 red, 44 black, which reinforce the magical character of the cave.

The sequel after the ad

Ultimately, however, this prehistoric heritage is doomed to disappear forever under the waves. Under the aegis of the University of Aix-Marseille, archaeologists, hydrologists, geomorphologists, ethnologists and parietal art specialists have therefore joined forces in a race against the inexorable in order to study each parcel of the place. At the same time, a replica was made on the surface. 3D modeling, perfect reproduction of the appearance of the rock, drawing reproduced by artists in the manner of Homo sapiens, the reconstruction, supervised by five prehistorians, can be visited since the beginning of June close to the Mucem, near the Old Port of Marseille. Cosquer, a masterpiece in danger, now has a second life.

Saturday June 25 at 10:20 p.m. on Arte. Documentary by Marie Thiry (2022). 56 mins. (Available in replay until August 23, 2022 on Arte.tv).

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