Cosquer Cave

The Cosquer cave is located in the Calanque de Morgiou in Marseille, France, not very far from Cap Morgiou. The entrance to the cave is located 37 m (121 ft) underwater, due to the rise of the Mediterranean in Paleolithic times. It was discovered by diver Henri Cosquer in 1985, but its contents were not made public until 1991, when three divers became lost in the cave and died.

Today, the cave can be accessed by divers through a 175 m (574 ft) long tunnel, the entrance of which is located 37 m (121 ft) below the surface of the sea, because of changes in sea level since the time the cave was inhabited.

The shore of the Mediterranean sea at the time the cave was occupied was then several km away and many metres below the cave mouth. Sea level was lower because at that time there was an ice age and large volumes of water were retained in enormous icecaps on land, making the level of the sea 110 to 120 m (360 to 390 ft) lower than today, affecting Mean Sea Level as calculated for approximately 20,000 years ago during the peak of the (last major glaciation).

Four-fifths of the cave, including any art on its walls, was submerged and obliterated by the rising sea. 150 instances of cave art remain including several dozen painting and carvings dating back to the Upper Paleolithic, corresponding to two different phases of occupation of the cave: older art consisting of 65 hand stencils and other related motifs, dating to 27,000 years BP (the Gravettian Era).

Newer art of signs and 177 animals dating to 19,000 years BP (the Solutrean Era), representing both "classical" animals such as bison, ibex, and horses, but also marine animals such as seals and what appear to be auks and jellyfish.