Art: Man's Oldest Shrine

Nineteen years ago, two boys out hunting in the Dordogne region of France chased a rabbit into a hole. Enlarging the hole, the boys lowered themselves into a vast cave that had been sealed away for untold thousands of years. The cave's limestone floor proved disappointingly bare of treasures—which is what boys naturally expect to find in caves—but the walls, in the eye of their flashlight, swarmed with strange painted beasts. Some 20,000 years old, the pictures were almost perfectly preserved. They had found mankind's oldest shrine, painted by Cro-Magnon man.

Since then, tourists and art students have flocked into the...

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