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Environment, Space, Place

Volume 6, Issue 1, Spring 2014

David Dillard-Wright
Pages 54-75

Placing Humanity: The Reconstruction of Pre-history at Lascaux

The cave at Lascaux, France provides one of the earliest examples of human artwork: bulls, horses, and other creatures painted on rough rock walls, iconic examples of the emergence of human culture. After being closed to the public due to damage from the large influx of visitors, the cave was recreated in a near exact replica at Lascaux II, a museum site close to the original cave. This paper explores the reconstruction of the site and the constant stream of tourists to the location, arguing that the site functions as a pseudo-religious place of pilgrimage in which human beings imagine themselves as descendants of their primeval ancestors and re-affirm their own humanity. The representations of Lascaux, including Bataille’s text, express longing for an absent origin, in keeping with discourses of play between presence and absence in philosophy and theology.

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