Grotte d'Enlène

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Site type:
Site function:
Habitation site, Decor cave
43.03, 1.21

The Enlène cave, or cavern of Enlène, is a Magdalenian (Upper Paleolithic) cave, located in Montesquieu-Avantès, in Ariège, in the Occitanie region, in France.

The Enlène cave is one of the richest caves in the Ariège Pyrenees in terms of Magdalenian furniture, with some sculpted objects of remarkable craftsmanship (Ibex propeller, grasshopper and bird on engraved bone, etc.). It is exceptional for the quantity of its engraved plates. It is also a reference site for the Gravettian.

It is part of the karst network of the Volp caves, a natural monument and classified site (2013) which includes the Trois-Frères cave and its iconic "dancing shaman", and the Tuc d'Audoubert cave with its famous bison statuary group. in clay. Enlène is the oldest known of the three.

The Volp caves are part of all the decorated caves of the Pyrenean-Cantabrian chain.

The Enlène cave is about 450 m long. It generally develops towards the southwest, more or less parallel to the Trois-Frères cave; far from their respective entrances, these two caves are linked together by a narrow gallery about 65 m long.

Enlène has two superimposed entrance porches, which meet underground to lead to a long corridor of about 200 m. It is divided into three main sections:

  • The entrance area, including the left diverticulum and the upper porch;
  • the main gallery (progress area);
  • the bottom area, including:
    • the Hall of the Dead (Bronze Age burials),
    • the Fond room: it contains the oldest habitat, dated between 12,900 years BP ± 140 years and 13,400 years BP ± 120 years.

A branch of Enlène opens on the left about a hundred meters from the entrance and heads due east towards the loss of Volp.