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Episode 28: What They Left Behind [Rebroadcast]

The stories and songs of prehistoric people are lost. Their art and artifacts are all that remain of their culture.

The painted caves of Ice Age Europe are the world’s most famous examples of prehistoric art. What does this art reveal about the people who made it? Why did they paint those images on cave walls? What do the images mean?

Jean Clottes is one of the world’s preeminent prehistorians and a leading expert on prehistoric art. He has devoted his life to asking these big questions, and his insights have challenged popular assumptions about prehistoric art and how it evolved.

In this episode, producer Neil Sandell visits Clottes at his home in the foothills of the Pyrénées in France, and they journey deep into a painted cave called Niaux to see the famous Salon Noir.

This episode was awarded the grand prize in the Prix Marulić International Audio Festival in the documentary category.

The Leakey Foundation

Origin Stories is a project of The Leakey Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding human origins research and outreach. The Leakey Foundation funds cutting-edge research about human evolution and human behavior. Support this show and the science we talk about with a tax-deductible donation. Thanks to a generous supporter, your donation will automatically be doubled!


Check out the complete show notes and bonus material at  


Producer: Neil Sandell

Editor: Julia Barton

Host and Series Producer: Meredith Johnson

Sound Design: Neil Sandell

Theme Music: Henry Nagle

Intern: Yuka Oiwa

Additional Music:

Kai Engel “Denouement” and “Difference” Parvus Decree “The Eternal Wheel” and “Gau” Alex Mason “Other” Scott Holmes “Still Missing”  Lee Rosevere “Tech Toys”


This season of Origin Stories is made possible by support from Dixon Long. 

The Leakey Foundation thanks the following people for their generous support of this episode: 

Jean and Ray Auel, Sharal Camisa, Dennis Fenwick and Martha Lewis, Victoria and Barry Fong, Jeanne Newman, Sharon Metzler-Dow, and Lisa and Bill Wirthlin.

Additional Support

We are also brought to you with support from, the internet’s leading provider of spoken-word entertainment. Our listeners get a 30-day free trial and free audiobook download at

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