You’ve probably heard of the famous prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux in France. I’d read about them and had seen some photos of the images painted on their walls so many thousands of years ago. What I didn’t know was that the Lascaux caves have been closed to visitors since 2008 because the presence of so many tourists — and the air conditioning and lighting systems that were installed for them — caused fungus and mold to grow on the cave walls, partially obscuring the paintings.
I also didn’t know that in 1994, another cave complex was discovered in France — this one in pristine, untouched condition thanks to a rockslide that sealed it off during the Ice Age. It’s called Chauvet Cave, after one of its discoverers, Jean-Marie Chauvet. Chauvet Cave is the subject of a recent documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog called Cave of Forgotten Dreams.