They were beautiful, dazzling, almost familiar and yet impossible to pinpoint in time. “The Tassili frescoes”, as they were named during the last century, are, as we now know, the works of the first livestock and arable farmers in the central Sahara.
Splitting stones 3.3 million years ago!
The first stonecutters, the first artisans, fractured volcanic rocks, phonolite and basalt to produce sharp flakes.
This was 3.3 million years ago on the west bank of Lake Turkana, in Africa, in Kenya.
In terms of age, the former record breaking find had been “pebble tools”, said to be 2.6 million years old, discovered at Gona in Ethiopia in 1976 by the same team, directed at the time by Hélène Roche.
Carrying on with their research work, this French mission, now headed by Hélène Roche’s disciple, Sonia Harmand, has pushed the stone tool timeline back a further 700,000 years thanks to these new discoveries made in 2011 and 2012 whilst working on the West Turkana Archaeological Project.
MODERN ART AND PREHISTORY - IMPRESSIONS AND EMOTIONS
When Prehistory burst onto the scene in the middle of the 19ᵗʰ century there was
a huge collective shock. No, the world had not been created in seven days; it was
obviously too short a time. From that day on, Prehistory began to have a profound
and confusing impact on modern man. Modern art has sometimes “translated” this shock,
since artists express things they are obsessed by instead of bottling up their emotions.
That is the road of research that Rémi Labrousse, modern art historian, embarked
on. Last autumn he invited us to share the fruits of his research during a lecture
he gave at the Pôle d'Interprétation de la Préhistoire in Les Eyzies: a follow-up
to the group exhibition entitled “Préhistoire, une Énigme Moderne” held last summer
at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. According to him, modern art, deeply affected by
prehistoric art, reveals a sensitivity to this rich past, unlike History, reversing
any linear vision of progress and imposing the idea of a loop, and therefore infinity.
You can’t put a date to art. It just IS.
René Castanet was loved by all
On February 28, 2013 René Castanet, aged 89, passed away. He was a ray of sunshine in the Castel Merle Valley and in our memories he will always symbolise those Périgord families who have devoted their lives to sharing with others the wonders of prehistory, discovered right there beneath their feet. The son of Marcel and the grandfather of Isabelle (who is still showing people around the spectacular Castel Merle Valley with its decorated shelter dwellings), René had built up a sort of ideal museum close to his home, next to the little garden where he shaped flint with the most amazing dexterity.
In this enchanting environment, thousands of visitors were bitten by the prehistory bug on meeting such a delightful character – so approachable and with both feet on the ground.
THE LAST FARMER-CUM-PREHISTORIAN WINS PRIZE AT NYON FESTIVAL IN SWITZERLAND
Gilbert Pémendrant, 77 years of age, the king of La Fuste (as his farm is called),
the lord of Bernifal (his painted cave), has been honoured by the jury of the International
Festival of Archaeology Films in Nyon, where the film Sophie Cattoire made about
him (“Le Dernier Paysan Préhistorien”) received a prize in the form of an “Oscar”
carved out of Swiss granite. Marvellous!
Cussac, decorated sepulchral cave the less it’s tampered with the more it tells
Discovered in Le Buisson-de-Cadouin in the year 2000 by speleologist Marc Delluc, it has been named the “Lascaux of engraving”. For 10 years the conservation and research programs, conducted by the Service Régional de l’Archéologie and prehistorian Jacques Jaubert, have been beyond reproach. In a multi-disciplinary lecture given at the PIP, the researchers disclosed their first results and their projects. Exclusively - here on www.albuga.info - find out everything there is to know about their activities and see the first reproductions of this amazing cave art, done by Valérie Féruglio.
New excavations at La Ferrassie
After Investigations using archive photos and documents, carried out by anthropologist
Diane Laville, to redetermine the placement of the seven Neanderthal skeletons found
at La Ferrassie (Périgord) in the last century, the multi-disciplinary scientific
team led by Alain Turq, Harold Dibble, Dennis Sandgathe, Paul Goldberg and Shannon
Mac Pherron, sensed that part of the site related to two of the skeletons might
have remained intact. The 2011 excavations fulfilled their hopes.