Jean-Yves Boutin, also a research technician at the Drac, is convinced of having discovered a sacred treasure in La Malène.
At first glance, nothing impressive. However, Jean-Yves Boutin, self-taught archaeologist and, moreover, research technician for the Montpellier branch of the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (Drac) of Occitanie, is convinced of this.
At the entrance to the Drac cave, a short kilometer upstream from the town of La Malène, there are fine engravings which date, according to the enthusiast, “from the Merovingian period. The cave was sacralized in the 6th century, when there was no church in the village but just at the Castellum de la Malena (enchâtellement of La Malene, editor’s note)on the heights and which was more difficult to access.”
“An Engraved Nativity Scene”
It was in 2002 that his friend Jean-Pierre Doussière, another fan of the Middle Ages, discovered a first series of inscriptions, before alerting him and passing on the torch to him. Jean-Yves Boutin then conducts his own investigations. “I carried out excavations in two different places, he confides. I found hardware, like belt buckles, pieces of glass, a double hook clasp. With a pattern, which is also present at the Castellum, it shows that we are well on this period.”
Between what he considers to be crucifixes, ladders, even a boat, three representations have particularly attracted the attention of the researcher. For him, no doubt: “We see the Virgin Mary, the swaddled child Jesus and the Holy Spirit with an erect penis. We are therefore dealing with an engraved Nativity scene. It is unique in the world. It is a major discovery. We knew paintings from the first millennium, especially in Rome, but nothing engraved.”
His research, his analyzes and his results, Jean-Yves Boutin concentrated them in a small booklet, which he published in April. He looks back on almost twenty years of work. “We could do even more, such as cleaning the walls or taking high-level photographic surveys”says the native of Millau.