The cave of Niaux has been known to men since the dawn of time: they visited it and left their traces there in Prehistory, of course, but also in more modern times as evidenced by the many graffiti that punctuate the galleries.
While we thought we had discovered everything through studies and visits from prestigious prehistorians, modern explorers never cease to amaze us!
The last major discovery in the cave dates back to 1970 when speleologists crossed the siphons closing the Cartailhac gallery and entered galleries hitherto unexplored. This crossing was not easy because the underground lakes proving impassable without being an experienced diver or equipped with pumps to empty these waters.
In this network, about a kilometer long, more than 500 prehistoric footprints are still visible. Emotion and thrills guaranteed in front of these touching traces of humanity!
Dating of charcoal, still scattered on the ground, has shown different passages between 16 years and 000 years. There are no less than 7 tracks of known footprints in total in this so secret cave network. One of them, particularly well studied, has preserved the traces of 000 individuals including three children aged 18 to 5 years ... The children therefore came to the caves, far from natural entrances, daylight and sunlight. our received ideas!
The researchers also observed that 18 draperies, one stalactite and three stalagmites, strikingly sounding with percussion, had been deliberately broken by prehistoric visitors.
What if they had served as lithophones? What if we also made music underground?
In a large room in the network, 5 paintings, arranged symmetrically according to a narrow passage, were also discovered: three more or less complete bison on one side, a horse and a weasel facing them.
With its 46 cm long and the 10 brushstrokes that allowed the Cro Magnon to immortalize it forever, this weasel is as superb as it is atypical! It is, in fact, very rare that this animal is represented.
The weasel of the Clastres Network is therefore the only known representation of this animal, to date.
In 2006, to mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the paintings in the Salon Noir in the Niaux cave, the Clastres network was exceptionally open to the public. Substantial pumping of underground water took place and only 500 people were able to discover the beauties it conceals. Selected on the basis of a letter of motivation, the happy explorers, surrounded by experienced guides, traveled the depths of the earth for several hours for a visit etched forever in their memories.