Luc Jean-François Debecker

1978 Laureate, Cultural Heritage
Switzerland, Born 1934

Project Goal

Explore prehistoric lifestyles and beliefs through the study of European cave paintings

Location: France

"Thanks to their talents for observation and imagination, they produced the most important art gallery of all time and the most amazing museum of animal life ever created."

For close to half a century, Luc Debecker, a Belgian-born industrial surveyor living in Switzerland and France, has been spending most of his weekends and holidays compiling a guide to the world’s oldest "art gallery" — the caves where Stone Age peoples living in Europe 40,000 years ago painted the animals of their time with astonishing realism and skill. Without the support of the Rolex Award he won in 1978, Debecker is convinced he would have abandoned his ambitious project to document this important part of our prehistory.


years that information about 203 engravings from a cave in France sat in a historian's files before being published


known caves in France and Spain that Debecker included in his file


caves Debecker catalogued by the 1970s, at his own expense


the length, in metres, of Altamira in northern Spain, an impressive Cro-Magnon site

Other 1978 Laureates