Center National Of Prehistoire

Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, France

Center National Of Prehistoire

Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, France
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Bourdier C.,University Toulouse Jean Jaures | Fuentes O.,UMR Arscan 7041 Ethnologie Prehistorique | Pincon G.,Center National Of Prehistoire | Pincon G.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Baleux F.,French National Center for Scientific Research
Quaternary International | Year: 2017

This paper focuses on the issue of the audience of European Palaeolithic rock art, with a special interest given to the question of perceptibility. The carved, engraved and painted rock art from the Middle Magdalenian occupations of Roc-aux-Sorciers rock shelter (Angles-sur-l'Anglin, France) constitutes our case-study. Our methodology is based on an integrated approach of the rock art that combines an internal analysis of some intrinsic characteristics (techniques, dimensions, shapes, composition) and a study of the physical context it sets in. We particularly consider the characteristics of the environment of the site, its location in the landscape and its accommodation capacity. Thus are examined the visibility of the site and the decorated surfaces as well as the visibility and lisibility of the parietal carvings and engravings. We use GIS analysis processes to determine the view sheds and test several quantitative approaches taken from optics and visual ergonomics to calculate visibility and lisibility distances. If some analytical tools prove to be appropriate and relevant, the application of the formulas from the optical field needs to be qualified for some results are clearly overestimated. This preliminary research brings interesting results although supplementary analytical criteria will be necessary to consolidate them (lightning, painted register, perception of relief forms). Roc-aux-Sorciers was a site with a natural collective vocation given its high accommodation capacity from 75 to 100 people, easily accessible and highly visible in the landscape on a wide area. This study shows two strategies of visibility of the rock art, towards the outside or the inside of the site depending on whether the observer looks at the decorated back wall or ceiling. Moreover, two levels of visibility and legibility separate on the one hand the monumental carved frieze dedicated to a large and public audience, on the other hand the register of small fine engravings which discovery is more individual. Thus this study yields evidence of four levels of perceptibility of Roc-aux-Sorciers rock art: from an area of 1 km around the site until a close observation of the walls which can meet different audiences and hence recover diverse uses of the parietal iconography for these populations. Beyond, it is part of the territorial structuring and mobility of these people that could to be organized around these elements of distant visibility and perception of this decorated site which the Magdalenians were aware of. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA


White R.,New York University | Mensan R.,University of Toulouse II – Le Mirail | Bourrillon R.,University of Toulouse II – Le Mirail | Cretin C.,Center National Of Prehistoire | And 12 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2012

We report here on the 2007 discovery, in perfect archaeological context, of part of the engraved and ocre-stained undersurface of the collapsed rockshelter ceiling from Abri Castanet, Dordogne, France. The decorated surface of the 1.5-t roof-collapse block was in direct contact with the exposed archaeological surface onto which it fell. Because there was no sedimentation between the engraved surface and the archaeological layer upon which it collapsed, it is clear that the Early Aurignacian occupants of the shelter were the authors of the ceiling imagery. This discovery contributes an important dimension to our understanding of the earliest graphic representation in southwestern France, almost all of which was discovered before modern methods of archaeological excavation and analysis. Comparison of the dates for the Castanet ceiling and those directly obtained from the Chauvet paintings reveal that the "vulvar" representations from southwestern France are as old or older than the very different wall images from Chauvet.


Petrognani S.,Allee Of Luniversite | Robert E.,French Natural History Museum | Cailhol D.,UMR 5204 EDYTEM | Boche E.,Center National Of Prehistoire | And 2 more authors.
Bulletin de la Societe Prehistorique Francaise | Year: 2014

Study of the Grotte des Bernoux (Dordogne, France), begun in 2011, is part of the current trend for the critical re-examination of pre-Magdalenian decorated caves. This approach is based on the new consideration of these periods permitted by the discoveries in die 1990s of major sites in France such as Chauvet (Ardeche), Cosquer (Bouches du Rhône), or Cussac (Dordogne), as well as La Garma (Cantabria, Spain). Grotte des Bernoux, with its original characteristics regarding themes and form, represents a perfect site for the confrontation of its graphic data with these new discoveries. Situated at Bourdeilles, the cave opens at the foot of a small steep slope along the major bed of the Dronne river. It was discovered at the beginning of 1920s and was the object of a study by Denis Peyrony, who carried out the first inventory of the representations as well as an excavation at the cave entrance. The cave consists of a single gallery which spreads in a rectilinear way over some twenty metres, and the rock art representations are located in its first part. Originally including three documented figures (a mammoth, a rhinoceros and a bear, according to the most generally accepted identifications), in the current state of the study the inventory lists twenty-three graphic entities among which are six identified animal figures and four non-identified. New discoveries and parallels with the previously known images have contributed valuable data for the cultural and chronological insertion of the cavity, especially taking into consideration the fact that the archaeological material from the cavity provides very succinct information: the excavations carried out by Denis Peyrony in the 1930s yielded very little material (only 62 pieces), not particularly significant, comprising some Mousterian elements and others, probably stemming from the early phases of the Upper Palaeolithic. Re-examination of the walls of the Grotte des Bernoux revealed several major graphic discoveries. The first concern the entrance panel, which represents the main panel in the cave. Next to the first mammoth, which remains the most characteristic by its outline, two others were identified. One of them is attached to the first one and presents similar proportions (around 80 cm wide); the second one is situated in a lower section of the wall and has a more concise outline. On the other hand, only the head of the large rhinoceros remains. Six metres from the entrance, the figure previously known as a bear has been proved to be a feline. This new identification was permitted by graphic and computer graphic processes, in particular through 3D modelling by photogrammetry, which allowed the modern soot which impairs the interpretation to be removed, as well as the contemporary overdrawings which give the illusion of engraved outlines. The new interpretation of the figure is based on the elongated and nipped-in shape of the head. Beyond this entrance panel another area with Palaeolithic images was found where lines had already been located by other researchers (Delluc, B. and G., 1979). Ten metres from the left wall of the entrance, where the gallery narrows, is a panel including several engravings made with different technical characteristics than those known to date. Among them is, for example, the head of a small horse (only about ten centimetres) marked by the absence of any anatomical details. In addition, the discovery of totally new paintings diversified the techniques found on the walls of the cave. Two panels of red outlines were located; the first one, on the right wall, showed the presence of signs (dots and lines) and of a continuous outline of which the nature remains indeterminate (an incomplete triangular sign, possibly an animal head). These paintings are different from natural red lines and suggest, in their very vestigial state, a Palaeolithic pictorial group on a larger scale. Today the Grotte des Bernoux represents a significantly renewed array of rock art including in particular signs, new paintings and engravings, some of which have technical characteristics previously unknown in the cave. All these elements point to a fairly rich cave, a homogeneous thematic and stylistic horizon proper to the pre-Magdalenian phases, and more particularly to the Aurignacian. The contribution of the study of the representations is indisputable, especially in a context of limited and unspecific archaeological materials, and highlights the importance of re-examining decorated caves in order to improve our understanding of the cultural panorama of the earliest Upper Palaeolithic societies in Europe.


Geneste J.-M.,Center National Of Prehistoire | Mauriac M.,Conservatrice Generale du Patrimoine
The Conservation of Subterranean Cultural Heritage - Selected papers from International Workshop on Conservation of Subterranean Cultural Heritage, CSCH 2014 | Year: 2014

The Lascaux Cave has been discovered in September 1940, protected and classified as Historic Monument in the same year. After extensive modifications of its entrance that caused profound destabilization of its natural bioclimatic system, the cave has been opened to the public in 1948. But after important microbiological and climatic diseases Lascaux has been closed to visits in 1963. After returning to apparently normal equilibrium and the cave remaining closed to the public, a new bioclimatic crisis suddenly arose in 2001 with an apogee in 2007-2008. At each stage in the history of the conservation of the cave the French government has implemented all the scientific resources necessary to ensure the preservation of the painted and engraved walls. Several scientific committees have been constituted. Their archives are important and provide numerous data on the multidisciplinary scientific history and on all the activities developed for the preservation of the cave. All the committees have coordinated the scientific research necessary to understand the functioning of the cave and to create or adapt the tools and equipments required to ensure its continued health. Several research programs have been and are actually developed in several directions: geology, hydrogeology, carbon dioxide origin, microbiology, etc. at national and international levels. Lascaux Cave is very fragile due to its shallow underground depth, its small dimensions and high CO2 levels. More recently a climatic simulator has allowed researchers to model the climatic functioning inside the cave since its discovery. Using this preventive conservation tool and the very precise 3D model of the entire cave, it is possible to estimate the role played by natural and anthropogenic parameters in the changes of the internal climate, to test the possibilities of improvement of the climatic assistance system, before operating them, and the impact of human presence on the climate, and the feasibility of certain modifications to the cave structure. Microbiology is the second main approach implicated in the conservation of the cave. In the long term the fundamental research aims to understand the microbial ecology of the cave and in the short term the survey is increased, especially in the sensitive areas of the cave and of the painted panels, with different types of monitoring such as comparative photographic control. The main methodological aspect of this research and health control is to link the techniques used to identify and follow the evolution of the microorganisms with their function in the natural equilibrium or in other words the role of biological diversity. The fact that it is definitely not any more possible to open Lascaux Cave to the public has lead to the decision to build a new complete replica for preservation purpose, which will be located in Montignac, at the bottom of the hill, away from the original. © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group, London, UK.


Bertran P.,Inrap | Bertran P.,University of Bordeaux 1 | Allenet G.,Center National Of Prehistoire | Brenet M.,University of Bordeaux 1 | And 10 more authors.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology | Year: 2016

A deep sequence of Last Glacial peats and slope deposits at the foot of the Lascaux hill was investigated using a large array of methods (geology, geophysics, 14C and OSL dating, palynology, macro-remain analysis, entomology). The peaty levels, OSL dated to between ~73 and 60 ka, are found within a doline developed in a fluvial terrace of the Vézère River. These gyttja and chalky gyttja deposits covered by fen peat yielded abundant beetle and plant (seeds, pollen) remains. Palaeoecological reconstructions suggest a cool steppe with willow stands compatible with an interstadial of marine isotopic stage (MIS) 4, probably Ognon II (GI-19.2). Aquatic and hygrophilous plants (sedges), which reflect local vegetation, and their dependent insects are equally well represented in the record. The peats are covered by a sequence of slope deposits: a coarse-grained lower unit deposited during late MIS 4, overlain by a heavily decalcified sandy unit with a boreal soil complex correlated with early MIS 3, and finally, a coarse-grained, calcareous unit formed during late MIS 3 and MIS 2 in connection with slope dynamics typical of periglacial environments. The palaeosols yielded a small Middle Palaeolithic lithic assemblage. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


Genty D.,CEA Saclay Nuclear Research Center | Konik S.,Center National Of Prehistoire | Valladas H.,CEA Saclay Nuclear Research Center | Blamart D.,CEA Saclay Nuclear Research Center | And 7 more authors.
Radiocarbon | Year: 2011

Lascaux Cave is renowned for its outstanding prehistoric paintings, strikingly well-preserved over about 18,000 yr. While stalagmites and stalactites are almost absent in the cave, there is an extensive calcite flowstone that covered a large part of the cave until its opening for tourists during the 1950s. The deposit comprises a succession of calcite rims, or "gours," which allowed seepage water to pond in large areas in the cave. Their possible role in preservation of the cave paintings has often been evoked, but until now this deposit has not been studied in detail. Here, we present 24 new radiocarbon accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) and 6 uranium-thorium (U-Th) analyses from the calcite of the gours, 4 AMS 14C dates from charcoals trapped in the calcite, and 4 AMS 14C analyses on organic matter extracted from the calcite. Combining the calibrated 14C ages obtained on charcoals and organic matter and U-Th ages from 14C analyses made on the carbonate, has allowed the calculation of the dead carbon proportion (dcp) of the carbonate deposits. The latter, used with the initial atmospheric 14C activities reconstructed with the new IntCal09 calibration data, allows high-resolution age estimation of the gour calcite samples and their growth rates. The carbonate deposit grew between 9530 and 6635 yr cal BP (for dcp = 10.7 ± 1.8%; 2 σ) or between 8518 and 5489 yr cal BP (for dcp = 20.5 ± 1.9%; 2 σ). This coincides with humid periods that can be related to the Atlantic period in Europe and to Sapropel 1 in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. However, geomorphological changes at the cave entrance might also have played a role in the gour development. In the 1940s, when humans entered the cave for the first time since its prehistoric occupation, the calcite gours had already been inactive for several thousand years. © 2011 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.


Valladas H.,French Climate and Environment Sciences Laboratory | Kaltnecker E.,French Climate and Environment Sciences Laboratory | Quiles A.,French Climate and Environment Sciences Laboratory | Tisnerat-Laborde N.,French Climate and Environment Sciences Laboratory | And 13 more authors.
Radiocarbon | Year: 2013

The Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE) research program on prehistoric art conducts chronological studies of parietal representations with their associated archaeological context. This multidisciplinary approach provides chronological arguments about the creation period of parietal representations. This article presents chronological investigations carried out in several decorated caves in France (La Grande Grotte, Labastide, Lascaux, La Tête-du- Lion, Villars) and Spain (La Garma, Nerja, La Pileta, Urdiales). Several types of organic materials, collected from different areas of the caves close to the walls and in connection with parietal art, were dated to determine the periods of human presence in the cave, a presence that may have been related to artistic activities. These new radiocarbon results range from 33,000- 29,000 (La Grande Grotte) to 16,000-14,000 cal BP (Urdiales). © 2013 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.


Guibert P.,Bordeaux Montaigne University | Brodard A.,Bordeaux Montaigne University | Quiles A.,Pole darcheometrie Institute Francais dArcheologie Orientale | Geneste J.-M.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 4 more authors.
Quaternary Geochronology | Year: 2015

Direct chronological data of the ancient heating of calcitic walls at the Chauvet-Pont d'Arc Cave (Ardèche, France) were obtained at the Galerie des Mégacéros and at the Eboulis d'Entrée. Fragments of reddened limestone were extracted from the walls and were studied by thermoluminescence (TL). A novel measurement protocol of the equivalent dose (ED) was implemented and was optimized with respect to the nature of the material being dated (calcite), to the small quantities of sample available and to the relatively low heating of the rock surface in the past (close to 350°C). The presence of a high level of free radon in the cave and 210Pb in large excess in samples implied the development of a specific irradiation model allowing the evaluation of the mean annual dose over time, taking into account possible scenarios of radon and daughters migration from the bedrock. The following dating results were obtained (in ka before the present and associated total estimated standard deviation):- Galerie des Mégacéros, 36.9±2.3ka.- Eboulis d'Entrée, 34.3±2.9ka.These data are in agreement with the calibrated radiocarbon dates of the most ancient periods of human occupation in their respective areas. TL dates indicate that the fires which altered the walls were lighted during the first paleolithic human occupation period. Eventually, TL dating of the heated surface of the bedrock opens a new window on the chronology of human activities in the Chauvet-Pont d'Arc Cave and it makes an alternative contribution to the demonstration of the early chronology of its rock art. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Bourdier C.,University Toulouse 2 Jean Jaures | Fuentes O.,Center dInterpretation du Roc aux Sorciers | Pincon G.,Center National Of Prehistoire
Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage | Year: 2015

The 3D technologies have become essential in our researches on the Middle Magdalenian rock carving (18,500-17,000 cal. BP), complementary to the other traditional analytic tools. They play a noticeable role in our stylistic studies: the superimpositions of volumes and not only shapes make the form comparisons all the more accurate that margins of difference can be calculated. On the one hand, clarifying the degree of similarity between two carvings brings more data to the problem of the author(s) of the carvings, and thus it questions notions hardly tackled in prehistoric archaeology: the individual and the short time. These form comparisons prove to be very useful for other archaeological problems. Used for shape identification, they help for a better interpretation of the fragmentary representations and, beyond, for a more precise modelling of the chronological evolution of the parietal assemblages. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Bourdier C.,University Toulouse 2 Jean Jaures 5608 | Fuentes O.,Center dInterpretation du Roc aux Sorciers 7041 | Pincon G.,Center National Of Prehistoire
Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage | Year: 2015

The 3D technologies have become essential in our researches on the Middle Magdalenian rock carving (18,500-17,000 cal. BP), complementary to the other traditional analytic tools. They play a noticeable role in our stylistic studies: the superimpositions of volumes and not only shapes make the form comparisons all the more accurate that margins of difference can be calculated. On the one hand, clarifying the degree of similarity between two carvings brings more data to the problem of the author(s) of the carvings, and thus it questions notions hardly tackled in prehistoric archaeology: the individual and the short time. These form comparisons prove to be very useful for other archaeological problems. Used for shape identification, they help for a better interpretation of the fragmentary representations and, beyond, for a more precise modelling of the chronological evolution of the parietal assemblages. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

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