The discovery of Palaeolithic wall paintings and engravings in a cave whose entrance lies below the present sea-level near Marseilles has created considerable interest – and no little controversy. The paper describes and analyses the remarkable find, with special attention to its authenticity.
During the Pleistocene there were large variations in sea-level under the influence of glaciations and inter-glacial warm episodes. During the Late Wurm glaciation in the Upper Palaeolithic the sea-level dropped to 110–120 m below its present level (Lumley 1976: 311). At that time the Lerins islands, the Hyeres islands and the Frioul archipelago and the islet of Planier off Marseilles were linked with the coast, and much of the Golfe du Lion was occupied by a vast plain.