1978 Laureate, Cultural Heritage
Switzerland, Born 1934
Frustrated by the lack of public information, in his spare time Debecker began exploring, photographing and documenting the world’s most ancient art, hidden in caves in the countries where his engineering job took him – France, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland.
But his passion was tinged with anxiety as the cave paintings he loved were often in a bad state. Eager to continue the urgent task of cataloguing all known caves, he applied for the first series of the Rolex Awards. His 1978 Award gave him recognition from some of the world’s leading prehistorians and he was able to use his rising profile to establish a group in which 20 specialists worldwide share information. In his retirement in Languedoc-Roussillon, he is archiving the images and information gathered during a half-century of caving.
Published in 2012