The experience of exploring parts of the cave virtually

One of the problems with teaching about the painted interiors of the Paleolithic concerns the fact that it is difficult (and in many cases, impossible) for us to inhabit these spaces to study the works of early humans like we would a museum or art gallery. The unfortunate fate of Lascaux cave has taught us an important lesson about limiting human interaction with these rare discoveries. Read about this here. (

This is truly unfortunate, both for the caves and for those who wish to understand them. If, as I have argued in lessons for this week, context is critical for understanding these paintings, then we really need to see them in relation to the organic, undulating contours of the cave itself.

With this in mind, I’d like to you watch this movie.

It is the work of the famous German director and movie maker Werner Herzog, who was granted an unprecedented level of access to Chauvet cave. Please watch it in its entirety, then take a quick look at this 3D model of the same cave.

Having seen both, please respond to the following prompts.

Did seeing the interior of this cave as a movie change your understanding of the paintings?

Yes or no, please explain why.

How does the experience of exploring parts of the cave virtually compare to the movie? Do you consider this new technology an improvement? Why or why not?