Read The Land of Painted Caves Online

Authors: Jean M. Auel

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Historical, #Sagas, #Women, #Europe, #Prehistoric Peoples, #Glacial Epoch, #General Fiction, #Ayla (Fictitious character)

The Land of Painted Caves

BOOK: The Land of Painted Caves
5.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


The Clan of the Cave Bear
The Valley of Horses
The Mammoth Hunters
The Plains of Passage
The Shelters of Stone

Copyright © 2011 by Jean M. Auel

All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

CROWN and the Crown colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

EARTH’S CHILDREN is a trademark of Jean M. Auel.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Auel, Jean M.
The land of painted caves / by Jean M. Auel.
p. cm.—(Earth’s children; bk. 6) 1. Ayla (Fictitious character)—Fiction.
2. Prehistoric peoples—Fiction. 3. Women—Europe—Fiction.
4. Glacial epoch—Fiction. 5. Europe—Fiction. I. Title. II. Series.
PS3551.U36L36 2011
813′.54—dc22         2010021873

eISBN: 978-0-307-88665-1

Jacket illustration by Rob Wood/Wood Ronsaville Harlin, Inc
Jacket typography by Anthony Bloch
Map illustration by Rodica Prato after Jean Auel

Inset map © Palacios after Jean Auel


     First born, last cited, always loved,
and for FRANK,
      who stands by her side,
and for AMELIA and BRET, ALECIA, and EMORY,
     fine young adults,
                                                        with Love.


I am grateful for the assistance of many people who have helped me to write the Earth’s Children® series. I want to thank again two French archeologists who have been particularly helpful over the years, Dr. Jean-Philippe Rigaud and Dr. Jean Clottes. They have both enabled me to understand the background and to visualize the prehistoric setting of these books.

Dr. Rigaud’s help has been invaluable beginning with my first research visit to France, and his assistance has continued over the years. I particularly enjoyed the visit, which he arranged, to a stone shelter in Gorge d’Enfer, which is still much the way it was in the Ice Age: a deep protected space, open in the front, with a level floor, a rock ceiling, and a natural spring at the back. It was easy to see how it could be made into a comfortable place to live. And I appreciated his willingness to explain to reporters and other media people from many countries the interesting and important information about some of the prehistoric sites in and around Les Eyzles de Tayac when Book 5,
The Shelters of Stone
, was launched internationally from that location in France.

I am most grateful to Jean Clottes, who arranged for Ray and me to visit many remarkable painted caves in the south of France. Particularly memorable was the visit to the caves on the property of Count Robert Begouen in the Volp Valley—l’Enlene, Trois-Freres, and Tuc-d’Audoubert—whose art is often pictured in texts and art books. To actually see some of that remarkable art in its environment, escorted by both Dr. Clottes and Count Begouen, was a treasured experience, and for that thanks in great measure are also due to Robert Begouen. It was his grandfather and two brothers who first explored the caves and began the practice of maintaining them, which continues to this day. No one visits the caves without the permission of Count Begouen, and usually his accompaniment.

We visited many more caves with Dr. Clottes, including Gargas, which is one of my favorites. It has many handprints, including those of a child, and a niche large enough for an adult to enter, whose inner rock walls are completely covered with a rich red paint using the ochers from the region. I am convinced Gargas is a woman’s cave. It feels like the womb of the earth. Above all, I am grateful to Jean Clottes for the visit to the extraordinary Grotte Chauvet. Even though he became too ill with the flu to accompany us, Dr. Clottes arranged for Jean-Marie Chauvet, the man who discovered it and for whom it was named, and Dominique Baffier, curator of Grotte Chauvet, to show us that remarkable site. A young man who was working at the site was also with us and helped me through some of the more difficult parts.

It was a deeply moving experience that I will never forget and I am grateful to both Mr. Chauvet and Dr. Baffier for their clear and astute explanations. We went in through the ceiling, much enlarged since Mr. Chauvet and his colleagues first found their way in, and down a ladder that was attached to the rock wall—the original entrance was closed by a landslide many thousands of years ago. They explained some of the changes that have occurred during the past thirty-five thousand years since the first artists made their magnificent paintings.

In addition, I would like to thank Nicholas Conard, an American who lives in Germany and is in charge of the Archeology Department at the University in Tubingen, for the opportunity to visit several of the Caves along the Danube in that region of Germany. He also showed us several of the ancient carved ivory artifacts that are more than thirty thousand years old, including mammoths, a graceful flying bird that he found in two parts several years apart, and a most amazing lion-human figure. His latest find is a female figure that was created in the same style as others from France, Spain, Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic from the same era, but that is unique in its execution.

I also want to thank Dr. Lawrence Guy Strauss, who has been so willing and helpful in arranging for visits to sites and caves and often accompanying us on several trips to Europe. There were many highlights during those trips, but one of the most interesting was the visit to Abrigo do Lagar Velho, Portugal, the site of the “lapedo valley child,” whose skeleton showed evidence that contact between Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans resulted in interbreeding. The discussions with Dr. Strauss about those Ice Age humans were not only informative, but always fascinating.

I have had discussions and asked questions of many other archeologists, paleoanthropologists and specialists whom I have met about that particular time in our prehistory, when for many thousands of years both kinds of humans occupied Europe at the same time. I have appreciated their willingness to answer questions and discuss the several possibilities of how they lived.

I want to give special thanks to the French Ministry of Culture for the publication of a book which I found invaluable:
L’Art des Cavernes: Atlas des Grottes Ornées Paléolithiques Francaises
, Paris, 1984, Ministère de la Culture. It contains very complete descriptions, including the floor plans, photographs, and drawings, as well as an explanatory narrative of most of the known painted and engraved caves in France, as of 1984. It does not include Cosquer, whose entrance is below the surface of the Mediterranean, or Chauvet, neither of which were discovered until after 1990.

I have visited many caves, some many times, and I can remember the ambiance, the mood, the feeling of seeing exceptional art painted on the walls inside caves, but I couldn’t recall precisely what the first figure was, or on which wall it appeared, how far into the cave it was, or what direction it was facing. This book gave me the answers. The only problem was that it was published in French, of course, and while I have learned some French over the years, my command of the language is far from adequate.

So I am deeply indebted to my friend Claudine Fisher, Honorary French Consul for Oregon, French professor and director of Canadian Studies at Portland State University. She is a native speaker who was born in France, and she translated all the information I needed of every cave I wanted. It was a lot of work, but without her help, I could not have written this book, and I am more grateful than I can begin to express. She has been helpful in many other ways, too, besides just being a good friend.

There are several other friends I’d like to thank for their willingness to read a long and not-quite-polished manuscript, and make comments as readers: Karen Auel-Feuer, Kendall Auel, Cathy Humble, Deanna Sterett, Gin DeCamp, Claudine Fisher, and Ray Auel.

I want to offer gratitude in memoriam to Dr. Jan Jellnek, who was an archeologist from Czechoslovakia, now known as the Czech Republic, who helped me in many ways, from the beginning when we first exchanged letters, and then visits that Ray and I made to see the Paleolithic sites near Brno, and then he and his wife’s (Kveta) trip to Oregon. His help was invaluable. He was always kind, and generous with his time and knowledge, and I miss him.

I am lucky to have Betty Prashker as my editor. Her comments are always insightful, and she takes my best efforts and makes them better. Thank you.

Gratitude always to the one who has been there from the beginning, my wonderful literary agent, Jean Naggar. With every book, I appreciate her more. I also want to thank Jennifer Weltz, Jean’s partner at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. They continue to perform miracles with this series, which is translated into many foreign languages and available all over the world.

For the past nineteen years Delores Rooney Pander has been my secretary and personal assistant. Unfortunately, she has become ill and has retired, but I want to thank her for her many years of service. You don’t really know how much you count on someone like that until she is gone. I miss more than the work she did for me, I miss our conversations and discussions. Over the years she became a good friend. (Delores died of cancer in 2010.)

And most of all, for Ray, my husband, who is always there for me. Love and gratitude beyond measure.

BOOK: The Land of Painted Caves
5.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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