Abri Pataud (Pataud Shelter)


Cro-Magnon has some impressive remains! You can discover them in the heart of the Dordogne, a stone's throw from the Lascaux cave. The Abri Pataud (Pataud Shelter) is one of the only prehistoric sites in the region to display an excavation site and to present techniques used by archaeologists.

Time Stood Still

Owned by the Museum since 1957, the Pataud Shelter has two discovery areas for visitors to explore. The prehistoric site has been specifically developed to allow for public access. Thanks to the different archaeological layers, visitors can make their way through the chronology of civilizations that succeeded one another under the Les Eyzies cliff. These layers also reveal the evolution of landscapes over the millennia. A stone’s throw away from the site, a museum has been set up, sheltered under a rock.

A Prehistoric Journey

How did the woman whose skeleton was found here live? Who carved the ibex on the cave’s vault? Visitors are sure to be full of questions and wonderment when discovering this site. Occupied during the first half of the Upper Paleolithic period, the Pataud Shelter has preserved traces of 15,000 years of prehistory, from the Aurignacian (-35,000 years) to the Solutrean (-20,000 years) periods. An era marked by the presence and activity of the first Homo sapiens, called Cro-Magnon men. Great users of highly sophisticated stone tools, they also invented figurative art in caves, shelters and habitats. For visitors, this is a great opportunity to follow the progress of the lithic and bone industry and to see the birth of an artistic expression that flourished in the Magdalenian period.

Chantier de fouilles - Abri Pataud

© MNHN - A. Iatzoura

Chantier de fouilles - Abri Pataud

© MNHN - J.-C. Domenech

Chantier de fouilles - Abri Pataud

© MNHN - J.-C. Domenech

Chantier de fouilles avec public - Abri Pataud

© MNHN - A. Iatzoura

Nomadic Lives

Nearly 35,000 years ago, the first occupants of the Pataud Shelter, the Aurignacians, found a shallow refuge here for their short stays. They were semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers. Around 28,00 years ago, the Gravettians settled for longer periods of time in this shelter, which has been enlarged by erosion. At the end of the Gravettian civilization (22,000 years ago), the canopy collapsed and only a narrow corridor running along the rock face remained. It was then used as a burial site. Six individuals are buried there.

Art and Burials

One of the first revelations of the excavations was the discovery of a young woman buried with a newborn baby. This was followed by a goddess in relief, carved out of a block of limestone, and numerous objects of movable art - including an engraving of a fish on antlers, jewelry, perforated shells, decorated pebbles etc...Note the perforated human tooth, which must have been hung like a pendant.

The Museum Under The Rock

Accessible to all, the Musée de l'Abri Pataud presents, over an area of 75m², the most significant artefacts out of the two million found on site. All of the fieldwork carried out by the prehistoric archaeologists and the results of their excavations are exhibited there. During your visit, be sure not to miss the various reconstructions of prehistoric man’s habitats and way of life. So, are you tempted to visit and go back to your roots?

Chantier de fouilles - Abri Pataud

© MNHN - J.-C. Domenech
How to find us

20 rue du Moyen Âge

24 620 Les Eyzies

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