3rd Millennium BC
In the 3rd millennium BC, there was a highly original artistic centre in the south of France. Genuine statuary, carved in the round with single three-dimensional figures, was produced at this site. At the point where the departments of Aveyron, Tarn and Hérault meet, in the region of Rouergue, there is a collection of around fifty sandstone statue-menhirs that are stylistically very homogenous.
It was discovered by chance in 1886, at the same time as another statue-menhir that has now disappeared. A monolith, once fixed in the ground and upright like a menhir, it represents a woman standing, whose outline follows the contours of the block of stone. Her back and her ribs are also carved. Like the majority of the statues from the Rouergat group, it was found at a site where there was no sign of any habitation or tombs, and which, during the Neolithic Period, had been a dense oak forest. Man had not at the point started to clear the trees from this part of the area, preferring the limestone countryside of the Causses and the areas around there, which were more easily cultivated. These stone divinities were therefore erected in the very depths of dark forests, far from any village. Perhaps they protected the hunters who ventured into these hostile places, following the stags and the wild boar.