Baume Bonne is one of the major sites of European prehistory, and a listed historic monument. Here, you will discover the traces left by man over 400,000 years ago, in one of the world's earliest known human habitats.
First through, you have to walk a little. The pleasant hike follows a path through the garrigue, set with information panels, in the most beautiful natural setting. An expert guide from the museum will lead the way, and then show you round the cave.
Several series of excavations have been carried out in Baume Bonne cave since it was discovered by Bernard Bottet in December 1946. Archaeologists have found an eclectic body of evidence of the presence of man. The oldest traces date from the Lower Palaeolithic period.
You will feel this impressive stretch of time as you come into the cave and travel back through the different eras, stratum by stratum. In the oldest stratum are piles of sandstone pebbles constructed by the Anteneanderthals – man was already taking control of space. A little higher, notice the black layers – fire had been domesticated. Around 250,000 BCE, the Levallois technique for knapping stone appears at Baume Bonne. Around 130,000 BCE, the climate is significantly warmer.
In the more recent layers we find evidence of Neanderthal man: knapped flints and deer bones. A very old cave bear came here to die, several tens of thousands of years ago.
Cro-Magnon man also made his presence felt in Baume Bonne. He left behind him flint blades and slivers, and spear and arrow tips. Then came Neolithic man, with his ceramics, polished tools, grinding basins and rubbing stones, sheep and goats, 6,000 years BCE. Then came the metals – the Copper Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
Next, Phocaean ceramics appear, demonstrating that Massalia had been founded. The upper layers of the cave contain a mixture of objects left behind by shepherds and hunters.
You will discover all this and more when you come to visit us. Ready for your trip?
- Ages 7 and over
- Reservations essential: +33 (0)4 92 74 09 59
- Duration of visit: 3 1/2 hours, of which 2 1/2 hours are spent walking to and from the cave (walking shoes and a water bottle are essential).