Prehistory in the Périgord

Préhistoire - Art parietal à Lascaux

Perigord, the cradle of humanity

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The Perigord, which roughly corresponds to the current Dordogne department, is an area very rich in prehistoric sites. Its climate, geography and geology combined to create the ideal conditions for prehistoric people to settle and provide for themselves.

For 400,000 years, two human groups have succeeded each other in the region. The first, and the oldest, are the Neanderthals. The second are the men of Cro-Magnon, so called after the discovery of burials during excavations made at Cro-Magnon near Les Eyzies. They are “Homo sapiens”, like you and me.

The best known settlement, the Vézère Valley, contains an incredible concentration of prehistoric sites, 15 of which have been classified World Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

This is not the only one though. Other valleys of the region, such as Couze or Bélingou, just a few kilometres from the centre of our village, display the same characteristics and conceal prehistoric treasures.

Grotte de Lascaux

The Lascaux Cave was discovered on September 12, 1940 by 4 teenagers in Montignac (Dordogne), in the Vézère Valley. This prehistoric cave is richly decorated with realistic and symbolic paintings of bison, horses and deer, dating back to the Paleolithic period, around 18,000 BC.

In 1948, the site was opened to the public. Unfortunately, it quickly fell victim to its success and the influx of tourists from around the world. This intensive tourist impact caused irreversible damage and the site had to close in 1963.

A first facsimile, called “Lascaux II”, was opened to the public in 1983. In October 2012, a travelling exhibition, “Lascaux III”, was launched..

The International Centre for Parietal Art, “Lascaux IV”, opened its doors in December 2016. All the scenes of the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistory” are faithfully reproduced. You will be able to extend your visit to the site with a fascinating exploration of 8.500 m² dedicated to Lascaux and its place in the world of parietal art.

You will find Lascaux about 50 km north of Molières.

Discover the "World Capital of Prehistory"

Les Eyzies, a small town on the banks of the Vézère, is known as the “World Capital of Prehistory” and has an impressive number of prehistoric sites.

You will find, among others, the Cave of Font de Gaume which is one of the few caves decorated with original polychrome frescoes still open to the public. The number of visitors per day is strictly limited for the sake of preservation. Book your tickets well in advance or you will have to queue at 5am, although having the privilege of admiring authentic 15,000-year-old paintings provokes such emotion that it is definitely worth it!

Other prehistoric sites can be visited in Les Eyzies or in the surrounding area. You will find practical information here.

The National Museum of Prehistory, also in Les Eyzies, has one of the most beautiful collections of prehistoric objects in France. Stone tools, art objects (bone, ivory), life-size reconstructions of prehistoric men and extinct animals allow an understanding of the evolution of societies over 400,000 years. These are enhanced by the context of contemporary architecture.

Prehistory, as if you were there!

In the Dordogne, there are many sites where prehistory is in the spotlight. Everything is done so that children (and adults) can discover and better understand this period of our humanity.

You will find several courses with stagings of life at that time, interactive workshops, demonstrations as well as animations in augmented reality, 3D movies and all the things that the new technologies can bring us more of, not to mention the parks where the dinosaurs live, of course!

Discover a selection of sites on the theme of prehistory.

And Molières during prehistory?

There are several prehistoric sites within a few kilometres of the centre of the village of Molières.

To the west of Molières, in Bayac, there is the site of La Gravette. This site gave its name to a period of the Upper Paleolithic which is between 31,000 and 23,000 years before our time: the Gravettian. It was discovered in 1880 by Abbé Chastaing. Numerous flint tools have been found there. The La Gravette site has been protected and listed as a historical monument since 15 March 1945.

Much more recently, on September 16, 2000, Marc Delluc, a member of a caving club in our region, discovered the Cussac Cave. He quickly realised that there was a treasure hidden behind the entrance of a seemingly innocuous cave. He almost immediately alerted the cave art specialists at the National Prehistory Centre. The classification as a historical monument was initiated on 23 November of the same year. Access is strictly regulated and reserved for scientists. This 1.6km long cave contains several hundred Paleolithic engravings and human remains dating back more than 29,000 years. It is known as the “Lascaux of engraving”.

To learn more about the Cussac cave, visit the website of the National Archaeology Museum or buy the magnificent book “Grotte de Cussac -30.000”, published on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the discovery by “Editions Confluences”.

The Cussac cave is just 5 km north of the village of Molières, on the other side of the Bélingou, the brook that separates us from Cadouin!

For the sake of preservation and protection, these two sites are unfortunately closed to the public. But their co-temporality and their presence so close to our village, allows us to affirm, without the slightest doubt, that 30,000 years ago human beings roamed our valleys and hills and lived here!

So, are you ready for a great trip back in time?

Destination : Dordogne !

Château de Commarque

Land of castles

On your own, with family or friends, come and discover the castles of the Périgord.

Cadouin - Eglise

Charming villages

Come and stroll through the streets of the many picturesque villages of the Dordogne.

Jardins de Marqueyssac

Some must-sees!

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