Prehistory itinerary

  Introduction

  Alphabetical Listing

 
  La Caune de l’Arago (Arago cave) and the Tautavel museum 
Pyrénées-Orientales

It was in the Arago cave (la Caune de l'Arago), perched above the Tautavel plain, that the oldest European human skull was found in 1971. It belonged to a man in his twenties. With its flat receding forehead, rectangular eye sockets under a bulge and a projecting jaw, the skull is that of an evolved Homo erectus living there around 450,000 years ago.

Apart from this spectacular discovery, various digs have found 70 parts of human remains: lower jaws and teeth belonging to about twenty adults and children.

 

 
Analysis has shown that Tautavel cavemen lived in the cave in a family group, when they were not hunting migrating herds. Robust and standing between 1.6 and 1.7 metres tall, they rarely lived more than 25 years. They had not yet discovered fire and traces of blows and marks on the bones lead us to think they ate each other. The reasons for such cannibalism remain a mystery. The Tautavel cavemen were well-armed and lived in a sector protected from the Catalan Corbières where they found the large mammals needed for their food: rhinoceroses, bears, bisons, musk oxen, horses, reindeers, red deer...
 

   

Scientists' findings enabled the museum to reconstitute six scenes in the daily life of these hunters: we can see them defending the rhinoceros they just killed against wolves, tracking bisons and bears etc.

The cave is reproduced in the museum and each of its 22 rooms is dedicated to one particular theme: tools, flora and fauna, human evolution, techniques used in digs. Most of the rooms have interactive VDUs and audiovisual equipment to help us understand our prehistoric past.

 

 


  Practical tips 

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