Cosquer Cave

The Cosquer cave is located in the Calanque de Morgiou in Marseille, France, not very far from Cap Morgiou. The entrance to the cave is located 37 m (121 ft) underwater, due to the rise of the Mediterranean in Paleolithic times. It was discovered by diver Henri Cosquer in 1985, but its contents were not made public until 1991, when three divers became lost in the cave and died.[1]


Schematic of the modern sea level in the Cosquer cave and its entrance tunnel.

Today, the cave can be accessed by divers through a 175 m (574 ft) long tunnel, the entrance of which is located 37 m (121 ft) below the surface of the sea, because of changes in sea level since the time the cave was inhabited. The shore of the Mediterranean sea at the time the cave was occupied was then several km away and many metres below the cave mouth. Sea level was lower because at that time there was an ice age and large volumes of water were retained in enormous icecaps on land, making the level of the sea 110 to 120 m (360 to 390 ft) lower than today, affecting Mean Sea Level as calculated for approximately 20,000 years ago during the peak of the (last major glaciation).

Prehistoric paintings

Stencil of a human hand from Cosquer Cave, dated 27,000 B.P., as shown at the National Museum of Archeology, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France

Four-fifths of the cave, including any art on its walls, was submerged and obliterated by the rising sea. 150 instances of cave art remain[2] including several dozen painting and carvings dating back to the Upper Paleolithic, corresponding to two different phases of occupation of the cave:

See also


  1. See the site of the French Rock Archive- Cosquer: The Cave Beneath the Sea for the history of the cave.
  2. Jean Clottes Transports French Cave Art to Montrose; The Uncompahgre Journal; 2008;VOLUME 26, NO. 6 pdf
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Coordinates: 43°12′10″N 5°26′57″E / 43.20278°N 5.44917°E / 43.20278; 5.44917

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