Recent additions, changes and updates to Don's Maps
All is well with me. After a recent trip to Europe I have tens of thousands of photographs and much text to research, make ready for publication, and upload, as well as new discoveries as they become available.
Photo: Me in Paris, on top of the Mus√©e de l'Homme.
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Pekarna Cave, Moravia, Czech Republic is famous for its stylised venus figure in the G√∂nnersdorf tradition, as well as several other engravings and art works. More photographs of the cave, art works, and text have been added.
Last updated Thursday 15 November 2018
Homo Habilis lived between 2.1 and 1.5 million years ago. The type specimen is OH 7, discovered in 1960 at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, associated with the Oldowan lithic industry. Homo Habilis is the least similar to modern humans of all species in the genus Homo. More photographs and text from the Brno Anthropos Museum in the Czech Republic have been added.
Last updated Sunday 11 November 2018
La Ferrassie rock shelter yielded skeletons from eight Neanderthal individuals, including adults, children, infants, and two fetuses. Today the skeleton of La Ferrassie 1 is considered the classic example of Neanderthal anatomy. More photographs of bone and flint tools and accompanying text have been added.
Last updated Sunday 11 November 2018
La Madeleine is a rock shelter located in the V√©z√®re valley, in the Dordogne, France. In 1926 the skeleton of a three year old child was discovered, with exquisite shell jewellery, dating from the end of the Magdalenian period. It is a treasure house of art and knowledge about the people of the Magdalenian. Much of this art is on display at the Mus√©e National de Pr√©histoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. Extra images and text have been added.
Last updated Sunday 11 November 2018
There have been many musical instruments found from the Palaeolithic, including from Neanderthals. This page shows some of them. Recently included is this Neanderthal flute on display at the Museum Ljubljana, photographed by Ralph Frenken.
Last updated Sunday 04 November 2018
Castel-Merle, Vallon des Roches. This is a very important set of sites within a small area. The Vallon des Roches has a unique geological formation. It consists of high parallel cliffs closer than 100 metres across the little valley and comprising six shelters spread over 400 metres, giving one of the highest concentrations of prehistoric settlements of Aquitaine, from Neandertals to the Magdalenian. The overhanging parts of these shelters have collapsed, mainly towards the end of the last glaciation, and thus ensured very good protection for the archaeological layers.
Last updated Sunday 04 November 2018
Les Grottes d'Isturitz et d'Oxocelhaya- The Caves of Isturitz and Oxocelhaya date back to the Mousterian, about 80 000 BC, and there is evidence of Neanderthals living there, but occupation extended to almost the end of the ice age in 10 000 BC. It is in the Atlantic Pyrennees region. Better images and more text have been added.
Last updated Thursday 01 November 2018
La Salle Piette contains a fabulous collection of prehistoric artefacts, tools and weapons discovered in the 19th century by √Čdouard Piette during excavations in the Pyrenees. Many masterpieces are exhibited, including several famous 'venus' figures. The set design is unchanged since the 19th century at the express request of Edward Piette who bequeathed his collection to the state on conditions defined by him, and unchanging over time. More photos and text have been added.
Last updated Sunday 28 October 2018
The Acheulian is named after the eponymous site of Saint Acheul. There are a series of sites in the lower Somme valley of Pleistocene deposits containing the distinctive large hand axes of the period. These artefacts were in terraces which resulted from alternating cycles of stream deposition and down-cutting allied to changes in climate and sea level that accompanied the alternating glacial and interglacial stages of Pleistocene times. I have added a more detailed map, and redone most of the images with higher resolution examples.
Last updated Wednesday 17 October 2018
Pasiega Cave in Spain was of mostly academic interest until the discovery that some of the art in the cave was put there by Neandertals. This is a revolution in our understanding of the Neandertals. Here is the background to that discovery, with many drawings of the art of the cave from the old master himself, Breuil.
It is sometimes forgotten that Britain has had a long history of hominin occupation, reaching back to possibly one million years BP or earlier.
This page shows a few of these Mousterian and pre-Mousterian tools and sites from Britain.
The Petersfels venuses are made of jet, or hard coal, sometimes of reindeer antler, and were found at the Petersfels site, near Engen in Germany. It is one of the most important Palaeolithic sites in Central Europe with an enormous number of important artefacts. It was a settlement towards the end of the last ice age, during the period 15 500-14 000 BP. The main activity here was reindeer hunting in autumn. More photos of art objects and tools have been added.
The Abri Pataud rock shelter was occupied by Cro Magnon man ( Homo sapiens sapiens ) for a period of 15 000 years, from 35 000 BP to 20 000 BP, which corresponds to the recent W√ľrm period, and the cultures of the Aurignacian, Gravettian and Solutrian. More photographs have been added to the page.
La Grotte Vaufrey is one of 22 caves and rock shelters known to dot the limestone cliff on the east side of the C√©ou River just south of its junction with the Dordogne River in Southwestern France. Excavated under the direction of Jean-Philippe Rigaud between 1969 and 1982, this site proved to contain a remarkable sequence of Acheulean and Mousterian occupations distributed across 12 major depositional units, couches I - XII.
The Salisbury axe quarry is in the Armidale/Uralla area of northern NSW Australia, and consists of an outcrop of vitrified (welded) tuff which has been used as a quarry for the blanks for ground axe heads by the local indigenous population for ten thousand years, since the end of the last ice age. The method of quarrying was thermal shock using fire to spall off large blanks which were subsequently worked into rough axe heads by knapping techniques, and then ground to a final shape and edge.
The Sungir - Sunghir site near Moscow - About 24 000 years ago, a group of hunters and gatherers buried their dead - including two boys with physical conditions - using the utmost care. The roughly 10 and 12 year-old boys were buried head to head in a long, slender grave filled with riches, including more than 10 000 mammoth ivory beads, more than 20 armbands, about 300 pierced fox teeth, 16 ivory mammoth spears, carved artwork, deer antlers and two human fibulas laid across the boys' chests, the researchers said.
When Neandertals were first described on the basis of skeletons found in the Neander Valley in Germany, they were presented as not quite human. Steadily, evidence has grown that Neandertals had most of the cultural abilities of anatomically modern humans. What has been missing up until now is evidence of their artistic ability, in particular art on the walls of caves, such as is much in evidence for anatomically modern humans, such as those from the Magdalenian. Finally this lack has been rectified, with discoveries of Neandertal paintings in three separate caves in Spain.
Three small ivory fragments from Breitenbach, which are only between 14 mm and 18 mm in size seem to be very inconspicuous at first glance, but have been carefully worked and polished on the surface, and can be fitted effortlessly into completely preserved figures such as those known from the 'Hohle Fels' in the Swabian Alb. Breitenbach represents one of the northernmost sites of the Aurignacian.
The Gorge d'Enfer is on the right bank of the V√©z√®re River near Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, and contains L'Abri Poisson. The shelter was discovered in 1892 by Paul Girod, and dates from the Aurignacian. In 1912 Jean Marsan identified the fish carved in the ceiling of a small abri that made the site famous. More photos, in particular of the Grand Abri, have been added.
The Le Piage deposit is part of a set of caves and shelters opening at the base of a cliff 8 km from the Dordogne valley, just north of Gourdon. One of the richest collections in the world of artefacts from the Protoaurignacian has been excavated there.
The site of Combe Sauni√®re consists of an ensemble of caves, the principal one containing a long sequence of Middle and Upper Palaeolithic deposits. The cave is situated in an open environment with small valleys and a few low cliffs with habitable caves dispersed along the river edges. The Solutrean levels are dated to approximately 19 000 BP. The oldest known propulseur or spear thrower, dating from the upper Solutrean, was discovered in layer 4 of Combe-Sauni√®re.
l'abri Villepin lies just downstream of the important site of l'abri de la Madeleine, itself just downstream of the Medieval village of La Madeleine. L'abri Villepin serves as the reference site for the definition of the end of the Magdalenian, and includes both Magdalenian and Azilian deposits and artefacts, including double barbed harpoon heads, double bevelled spear points, and works of art engraved on pebbles.
The small Grotte de la For√™t lies between Moustier and Tursac. It is at the junction of the valley of Fontpeyrine and the V√©z√®re, between the cliffs of Reignac upstream and Lespinasse downstream. It houses a magnificently engraved reindeer, with its head erect, the antlers thrown backwards, the limbs in vertical extension. Details abound: eye underlined with a curved line, lower lip slightly turned down, nostrils, punctuated flank, as well as an abundant mane shown by parallel streaks, attributes of a male subject.
Avdeevo - Venus figures and other finds from this important archaeological site. Two large venus figures made of mammoth metapodia have been added. The Avdeevo venus figures are quite variable, but most depict mature women in various stages of the reproductive cycle.
Coptic textiles, whose production began in the third and fourth centuries AD in Egypt, were hand woven with unbleached linen warps and dyed wool wefts and frequently featured woollen tapestry decoration. Men's garments were done in sedate colours with monochrome interlace motifs while women favoured floral and figural decorations.
Baguettes demi-rondes are a two-part composite projectile point technology usually manufactured from antler. This method of point construction allowed the Magdalenian toolmaker to construct a projectile point of much larger proportions, with high stiffness and strength, than the physical constraints imposed by the raw material usually allowed.
There are a lot of things to learn about photography in museums, the problems are like no other area of photography. Here I try to explain the basics, and the pitfalls involved, and give an indication of what I think is an ideal camera for the situation.
The Solutrean takes its name from the Crôt du Charnier site in Solutr√©-Pouilly, in Saône-et-Loire. During all the upper Paleolithic, Solutr√© was a site which specialised in the hunting of horses, where prehistoric men returned periodically. It does not include living areas occupied for long periods, but there are specialised areas of activity, especially the processing of game after the hunt. Some tools - pointes à face plane, laurel leaves, shouldered points - were made by a sophisticated retouch that was obtained by a new technique called pressure flaking, on flint which had been heat treated to make it much more workable.
Spy Cave is the site of an important discovery of Neanderthal remains, in particular the skeleton of Spy 2, a young male. They are the youngest Neanderthal remains in Europe, at around 40 000 BP. Almost 12 000 faunal remains of the Pleistocene were discovered in the cave, including mammoth, horse, cave hyena, woolly rhinoceros, reindeer, and cave bear bones.
Heidenschmiede - below the castle in Heidenheim, the rock face 35 metres above the valley floor forms a small overhang just large enough to create an 8 square metre abri, or rock shelter. In spite of its small size, this rock shelter was a place our ancestors went to time and again. This may have been because of the splendid view across the wide, open valley of the Brenz River, which provided an excellent hunting ground.
Many more tools, from those manufactured millions of years ago to those manufactured towards the end of the ice ages, have been added, as a result of my trip to the major museums of Europe in 2015. There are many more still to be added as time permits.
A venus figure carved in mammoth ivory, from circa 23 000 BP, has been discovered at the East Gravettian Khotylevo 2 site by Dr Konstantin N. Gavrilov, from the Institute of Archaeology, RAS. The Upper Paleolithic site of Khotylevo 2 is situated 400 km SSW of Moscow and 25 km NW of Bryansk.
In a stunning discovery, a team of archaeologists in Australia has found extensive remains of a sophisticated human community living 50 000 years ago in Warratyi Rock Shelter. Packed with a range of tools, decorative pigments, and animal bones, the shelter is a wide, roomy space located in the Flinders Ranges, which are the ancestral lands of the Adnyamathanha. The find overturns previous hypotheses of how humans colonised Australia, and it also proves that they interacted with now-extinct megafauna that ranged across the continent.