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

Luc Debecker, a Belgian civil engineer born in 1934, has been fascinated by Stone Age art since a prehistorian showed him, aged 16, some paintings in a cave in southern France.

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.

Other 1978 Laureates