Prehistoric Cave Paintings: (Part 3) A Prehistoric Painting of a Policeman with a Gun

Xue Jing

PureInsight | June 9, 2003

[] To understand this ancient painter's original intention, one needs to carefully scrutinize this complex cave painting. Paleontologist Stéphane Lwoff deciphered an etched flagstone, which was discovered in La Marche. At first glance he thought it represented a dancing violinist. This "dancing violinist" was wearing a hat and a loose coat with an ornament around his neck. It struck him as strange, however, to discover a gun-like object on one of the "dancing violinist's" thighs. How could there be a gun in a drawing on this primitive flagstone from 14,000 years ago? It is hard to fathom. When we enlarge the painting, however, we can indeed see a semblance of a gun.

A "Dancing Violinist" carved into a flagstone

A rifle on one of the dancing violinist's thighs?

A Canadian, Mr. Jiri Mruzek, re-examined the drawing after he had found this strange section of the artwork. He turned the drawing to another angle and re-described the outline of the head. It became clear that the picture is actually a policeman or a soldier, with a baton in one hand and the other hand points to his rifle on his leg, making it look like he is warning some lawless persons not to act rashly.

Policeman from 14,000 years ago? (Copyright: Jiri Mrzek)

How come such an astonishing discovery is not well known today? In 1941 Lwoff presented his discovery of the La Marche paintings to the French Prehistoric Society, but he was unsuccessful in convincing his colleagues that prehistoric human beings had done these drawings. "This art is too modern, too sophisticated, too good," they said, and continued, " It is inconceivable that such art could be the work of cavemen!" They announced that the flagstone drawing was done by modern human beings and accused Lwoff of fraud.

It is virtually a re-enactment of a scene during the Congress on Prehistory that took place in Lisbon in 1880, when the eminent scientists of the day accused Don Marcelino de Sautuola of hiring a contemporary artist to do the cave painting while claiming that he had found the Altamira cave along with his 5-year-old daughter. Sautuola endured public ridicule until his death. Ironically, not long after his death, academic circles later accepted the Altamira cave paintings as having been drawn by human beings 16,000 years ago, which cleared the name of the discoverer, Sautuola.

Even more satisfying, the efforts of Lwoff and Léon Péricard, an amateur paleontologist who persuaded Lwoff to visit La Marche, although ignored and forgotten for a long time, were not useless. La Marche's flagstone paintings have recently been removed for research. In 2002, Dr. Michael Rappenglueck from the University of Munich in Germany reappraised these flagstone paintings and confirmed they were indeed made by prehistoric human beings. He has begun further research.

La Marche - a Magdalenian Academy by Jiri Mruzek

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