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Home » Why Are These 32 Symbols Found in Caves All Over Europe by Genevieve von Petzinger (Transcript)

Why Are These 32 Symbols Found in Caves All Over Europe by Genevieve von Petzinger (Transcript)

Genevieve von Petzinger

Transcript of Why Are These 32 Symbols Found in Caves All Over Europe by Genevieve von Petzinger @ TED Talks

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TRANSCRIPT:

There is something about caves — a shadowy opening in a limestone cliff that draws you in. As you pass through the portal between light and dark, you enter a subterranean world — a place of perpetual gloom, of earthy smells, of hushed silence.

Long ago in Europe, ancient people also entered these underground worlds. As witness to their passage, they left behind mysterious engravings and paintings, like this panel of humans, triangles and zigzags from Ojo Guareña in Spain. You now walk the same path as these early artists. And in this surreal, otherworldly place, it’s almost possible to imagine that you hear the muffled footfall of skin boots on soft earth, or that you see the flickering of a torch around the next bend.

When I’m in a cave, I often find myself wondering what drove these people to go so deep to brave dangerous and narrow passageways to leave their mark? In this video clip, that was shot half a kilometer, or about a third of a mile, underground, in the cave of Cudon in Spain, we found a series of red paintings on a ceiling in a previously unexplored section of the cave. As we crawled forward military-style, with the ceiling getting ever lower, we finally got to a point where the ceiling was so low that my husband and project photographer, Dylan, could no longer achieve focus on the ceiling with his DSLR camera. So while he filmed me, I kept following the trail of red paint with a single light and a point-and-shoot camera that we kept for that type of occasion. Half a kilometer underground.

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