Excavations carried out in decorated caves reveal that occupation by Palaeolithic humans was temporary and connected to activities having to do with the parietal art. These sanctuaries only rarely served as habitats; only the first few metres, still lit by natural light, were possibly used for this purpose.

This segregation of spaces explains the atypical nature of the archaeological material found at the foot of the walls in comparison with the more traditional objects found outside. There is a real specificity to material found in decorated caves. Although the material is just as varied (stone, wood and bone), their proportions and the way they are made are radically different.

A great many lithic tools were found at Lascaux: blades, backed bladelets and flakes. More than 350 pieces were found, some of which show specific traces of usage, indicating that they were used for engraving. More enigmatic is the presence of worked bone, assegais in particular, both decorated and plain. One of them is nearly 45 centimetres long, which is unusual. Finally, the presence of several shells is to be noted, some of which are pierced and were used as decoration, as well as a relatively large number of reindeer bones and antlers.