The Perigord is home to very ancient archaeological vestiges that extend back nearly 350,000 years. The density of prehistoric deposits was such that Father Breuil used to joke that there were, in fact, only two deposits in the valley – one on the left bank and one on the right.
The principal prehistoric sites are found along the banks of the Vézère, and include La Madeleine, Le Moustier, La Micoque, and Tayac. It is from these sites that the Magdalenian, Mousterian, Micoquian, Tayacian and (in a larger sense) Perigordian material cultures took their respective names.
Other sites have been the subject of archaeological research, in particular Laugerie-Haute and La Ferrassie, which, along with La Madeleine, made it possible to establish a complete Upper Palaeolithic chronology. Today, it is still used as a reference for any study of the period.
Why such a high concentration of both habitation sites and decorated caves and shelters? The answer may come in part from geology. The conjunction of a set of specific conditions plays an important role, both in terms of how prehistoric populations chose their habitation sites, as well as the ability of the physical environment to preserve sites.