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L'Abri Poisson and La Gorge d'Enfer





L'Abri Poisson is located in the valley of the Gorge d'Enfer, on the right bank of the Vézère River near Les Eyzies-de-Tayac.

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. 1.05 m long, it is etched and carved in low relief on the ceiling of the vault, enhanced with red pigment. This salmon's attitude is characteristic of a male exhausted by spawning. The theme is rare since only ten fish have been identified in the Paleolithic cave art.

The attribution of these works to the Gravettian (25 000 years BP) is probable.

The site narrowly escaped looting through the intervention of Denis Peyrony. Indeed, multiple holes have been drilled around the figure of fish for the release of a portion of the wall. The holes bordering the sculpture are still visible and show the attempted robbery.

Since 1979, the site is a World Heritage by UNESCO, in association with other sites and caves with the region under the name "sites and prehistoric painted caves in the valley of the Vezere. The site is still open to visitors.

Text: Translated and adapted by Don Hitchcock from http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abri_du_Poisson




Les Eyzies map





Map of the Les Eyzies area, showing, at number 3, La Gorge d'Enfer.

It is between the Roc de Tayac (Fort de Tayac) and the Grotte du Grand Roc, with Laugerie Basse a little further on.

Photo: Guide Illustré, by M. Peyrony published in Munro (1912)




gorge d'enfer google earth





Google Earth image of the Gorge d'Enfer.

The gorge starts at the top of the photo, beside the road and the Vézère River, with the abris on the true left of the open area, that is on your left as you look from the open area of the little valley and creek towards the main road. The minor dirt road runs through the trees on the true right of the gorge, finishing in the farmer's field at the bottom left centre of the photograph.

It is part of the pedestrian tour shown at:
http://www.gpx-view.com/gpx.php?f=gorge_enfer_eyzies.gpx

Photo: Google Earth




gorge d'enfer









Map of the general area. L'Abri du Poisson is in the Gorge d'Enfer.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008

Source: Display on the footpath beside the main road which follows the Vézère River.




gorge d'enfer

Sign to la Gorge d'Enfer from the main road.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




gorge d'enfer

It is a very pleasant walk, on a well made dirt road, which is not very steep, but climbs continuously.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




gorge d'enfer gorge d'enfer

The road passes on the opposite side of the gorge to the long line of abris on the true left of the gorge. This is one of the abris.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




gorge d'enfer

The little dry valley soon flattens out, and gives views such as this of old abandoned buildings and forests with open floors.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




gorge d'enfer

At the crest of the valley, I found this beautiful and very well constructed stone wall. Note the rubble used for the main part of the wall, the dressed stone at the ends, and the roof with an overhang which protects the wall from the weather. I am also a stone wall builder, and this was done by a master of his trade.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




gorge d'enfer

I had hoped for something more spectacular, but the road petered out into a farmer's field. Note the temporary and inoperative electric fence on the right. I retraced my steps.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




gorge d'enfer gorge d'enfer


gorge d'enfer gorge d'enfer

I decided to zoom in on the abris on the true left of the gorge from the road I was on. It would seem that there had been the opportunity for these to have been important archaeological sites.

This is, I believe, the abri known as the "Grand Abri". It was, unfortunately, totally excavated for its chemicals, and there is no archeological information about it. This is a very sad state of affairs.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




gorge d'enfer





Le Grand Abri in an early postcard.

Photo: http://catherinearnoux.perso.neuf.fr/cpa/liscart/cpa24/24cpa/gdabri.htm




gorge d'enfer

I would love to have explored, but there was private land in the way.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




gorge d'enfer

I laughed out loud when I came to this sign, advising trespassers that there were snakes and bees in the area which would kill you given half a chance!

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




gorge d'enfer gorge d'enfer gorge d'enfer


gorge d'enfer gorge d'enfer

The Abri du Poisson was on the other side of the gorge. I made a trip to visit the Abri on another day, but photographs were not allowed inside the Abri.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




gorge d'enfer


From a distance, we can see that the Abri du Poisson is backed by a large cliff.

Photo: Heinrich Wendel (© The Wendel Collection, Neanderthal Museum)




gorge d'enfer

This information board on the main road had been well researched and presented.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Display on the footpath beside the main road which follows the Vézère River.



In this valley, the prehistorian Édouard Lartet began the first excavations of the valley of the Vézère in 1863. Fifty years later, in 1912, the sculpture of a fish was discovered in the Abri du Poisson.

Fishing: A major activity during the upper Palaeolithic

Numerous remains of fish have been recovered in many nearby archaeological sites. They illustrate the importance of fishing confirmed by the representations of fish - salmon, pike, etc, on decorated objects. Fishing was probably done on a seasonal basis, as a complement to hunting and gathering.

The Fish Sculpture

The fish is a rare theme in parietal art (the art on cave walls). The details of the sculpture allow us to identify this one as a salmon. It was probably originally surrounded by a complementary painted décor of which now remains only a negative hand and traces of red and black pigments which confirmed this dating at around 25 000 years BP. Thus this is one of the oldest known representations of fish in the world.



gorge d'enfer plan


Plan of the Abri du Poisson

Photo: Heinrich Wendel (© The Wendel Collection, Neanderthal Museum)
Source: Leroi-Gourhan (1984)




gorge d'enfer profile


Profile of the Abri du Poisson from the excavation in 1917-1918.

Photo: Heinrich Wendel (© The Wendel Collection, Neanderthal Museum)
Source: Peyrony (1932)




salmonA metre long life size salmon, made on the overhang of Abri du Poisson in the Gorge d'Enfer is the only sculpted representation of a fish, an animal rarely depicted in cave art, although it appears more often in portable art.

There was an attempt made once to steal this sculpture, and the thieves were disturbed at the point where they had put a series of holes around the sculpture ready to undercut it. This photo is probably of a well made cast of the original, since it appears to be free standing. Sharon Rogers tells me the original is still in place, on the ceiling of a small cave just south of Laugerie Haute.

Click on the image to see a close up.
Photo: 'Discovering Perigord Prehistory' by B & G Delluc, A Roussot & J Roussot-Larroque.
My thanks to Sharon Rogers/walkhound who alerted me to the existence of this excellent book.




gorge d'enfer

This photograph of the carving in situ shows the drill holes and carving which was done preparatory to the attempted removal of the engraving.

When I visited the cave, it seemed to me that the thieves would have tried to crack the block off the ceiling by chiselling from the lower part of the carving, since there had been a lot of work done to gain access to that part of the sculpture.

There would have been a significant risk of destroying the carving completely if the work had proceeded any further.

Photo: eptb.asso.fr




gorge d'enfer poisson


Abri du Poisson ceiling, showing the salmon.

Photo: Heinrich Wendel (© The Wendel Collection, Neanderthal Museum)




complete fish

This is a good photograph to show the drilling and chiselling that went on during the attempt to steal the sculpture.

Photo: http://www.tourisme-vezere.com/fr/fiche/Grotte-et-gouffre-Dordogne-Perigord/Abri-du-Poisson/PCUAQU024FS0000O




gorge d'enfer poisson


Abri du Poisson salmon closeup.

Photo: Heinrich Wendel (© The Wendel Collection, Neanderthal Museum)




gorge d'enfer poisson


Abri du Poisson salmon, 105 cm long.

Photo: Heinrich Wendel (© The Wendel Collection, Neanderthal Museum)
Source: Leroi-Gourhan 1984, 155




gorge d'enfer

Another image of the salmon.

Photo: http://www.culture.gouv.fr/




head of fish

This is a closeup of the head of the fish. Note the calcite deposits on the sculpture.

Photo: http://www.tourisme-vezere.com/fr/fiche/Grotte-et-gouffre-Dordogne-Perigord/Abri-du-Poisson/PCUAQU024FS0000O






The Abri du Poisson Affair

At the start of the 20th century, in the absence of regulation, the sale of archaeological objects was possible. Coveted by collectors, this sculpture of a fish was very nearly the victim of this practice, averted by the determination of the prehistorian Denis Peyrony.

This case alerted the government to the problem, and accelerated the development of the 1913 law on protection of historical monuments.

Text: Translated from the display on the footpath beside the main road which follows the Vézère River.


gorge d'enfer

Close up of the drawing of the fish sculpture in the roof of the cave.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008

Source: Display on the footpath beside the main road which follows the Vézère River.




hand stencil

Tracing of the negative black stencil of a hand on the roof of the small shelter of Abri du Poisson.

Photo: © B. and G. Delluc 1991

Source: Jaubert (2008)




hand stencil

The hand appears not to have been created by the normal spitting or blowing or 'airbrush' technique using a bowl of ochre and a hollow reed, but by outlining the hand with a brush of some kind.

Photo: http://www.tourisme-vezere.com/fr/fiche/Grotte-et-gouffre-Dordogne-Perigord/Abri-du-Poisson/PCUAQU024FS0000O




gorge d'enfer

Plan of the Gorge d'Enfer and the Oreille d'Enfer.

Photo: Giraux et al (1907)




Abri Poisson Abri Poisson Abri Poisson
Abri Poisson, Perigordian engraving of a vulva.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008

Source: Original, display at Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies




Gorge d'Enfer



Gorge d'Enfer, double phallus. This appears to be part of a broken Baton Percé.

Note that some think that this may be a modern fabrication.

Photo: http://www.hominides.com/html/references/sexe-prehistoire-paleolithique-art2.php




gorge d'enfer

Unidentified quadruped (most probably an herbivore) found in the cave of Oreille d'Enfer ("ear of Hell"), in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, Dordogne, France. Aurignacian culture. It can be viewed in the National Prehistory Museum in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac.

Date: 25 September 2009(2009-09-25)
Source: Own work
Author: Sémhur

Permission: (Reusing this file)
Licensing: I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following license: Creative Commons:
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.




gorge d'enfer
Decorated block from the Oreille d'Enfer, showing two small herbivores.
Length 108 cm, width 77 cm, thickness 38 cm.

The Cave of the Oreille d'Enfer, a classified historical monument, opens from the valley of the Gorge d'Enfer in Eyzies-de-Tayac. Explored in 1864, it became famous mainly because of the decoration on the walls attributed to the recent Perigordian, discovered in 1922. The principal motif, detached from the wall in 1960, for reasons of conservation, is composed of two small herbivores, without horns or antlers, perhaps superimposed according to Breuil as a large animal, possibly a rhinoceros.

This scene was part of a larger whole which remains on site: the rock bench includes six series of cupules, groups of three or five around a central larger cavity, evoking an impression of a large carnivore.

Source: http://www.musee-prehistoire-eyzies.fr/pages/page_id19281_u1l2.htm

Photo: © Musée national de Préhistoire - RMN


gorge d'enfer
Decorated bone pin from Abri Lartet in the Gorge d'Enfer, Dordogne, France.
Early Aurignacian period, about 34 000 years old

Deliberately made jewellery is unknown in Old Stone Age sites in Europe before the start of the Upper Palaeolithic. Some of the oldest known pieces came from the Abri Lartet, a shelter formed by a rock overhang where the users of distinctive split-based spear points camped during the early Aurignacian period, which in France lasted from 35 000 to 29 000 years ago.


gorge d'enfer
This decorated pin, 20 cm long, is a rare piece. There is nothing to compare with it in the whole of western Europe. From the flattened tip the smooth shaft becomes more rounded towards the middle where the simple notched decoration starts. This extends all round the shaft onto the head which is in part still rough and may not have been finished. The tip is thin and flattened. It appears unsuitable for use as a tool. On a person, it might have been worn in the hair or, to hold the sides of a collar or jacket front together below the shoulder.



Perforated bone pendants with notched decoration and waste from making ivory beads were also found at the site.

Text: A. Sieveking, A catalogue of Palaeolithic art (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)

Source: http://www.britishmuseum.org

Both photos: © The British Museum

Other Data:
Length: 20 cm
Bequeathed by Henry Christy (1864)
Sieveking Catalogue no. 151 (Christy Collection slip number 51)



gorge d'enfer
Split-based spear points

Early Aurignacian, about 35 000 BP
From the abri Lartet in the Gorge d'Enfer, Dordogne, France

These points are made of antler and are split at the base by the removal of a wedge-shaped fragment. The thinned end of a wooden spear shaft could be pushed into the slot and the join fixed with string made from animal hair, gut or muscle fibres. Although they vary in size, split-based points generally widen above the base then narrow to the tip, forming a lozenge shape with a rather flat cross-section. Notched decoration on the edges is rare.

Split-based points are characteristic of the earliest phase of the late Old Stone Age or Upper Palaeolithic known as the Aurignacian. Appearing about 40 000 years ago, they are the first distinctive spear tips to be made from bone antler and ivory and show the use of composite weapons made of more than one piece. In use for about ten thousand years, they were replaced later in the Aurignacian by rod-like spear tips with round and oval cross-sections, thinned or bevelled to fit the shaft.

Length 12 cm

Photo: © The British Museum
Excavated and bequeathed by Henry Christy
P&EE Christy Collection. Slip numbers 339, 340, 341




gorge d'enfer

L'Arbri Lartet is a magnificent overhang that provided shelter for people from the Palaeolithic to Medieval times.

Photo: Sieveking (1979)




gorge d'enfer

The two objects on the left are bone points, apparently harpoons, and the one on the right is an awl, all three of which are from the Gorge d'Enfer, from the collection of Broca.

Photo: Dawkins (1874)









Note on the Aurignacian of l'Abri Pasquet at Gorge d'Enfer, Les Eyzies, Dordogne.

Raoul (1970)



L'abri Pasquat occupies a rocky terrace at the entry on the right side of the valley of the Gorge d'Enfer, above the abris of Lartet and Poisson.

This vast shelter is 15 metres long by 3 metres in depth, and was discovered and excavated by G. Peyrille. D. Peyrony subsequently studied it, Peyrony (1906) and it is a site containing some traces of the Aurignacian Solutrean Peyrony (1906b).

The reddish-brown archaeological layer was at a depth of 50 cm, it was in the middle of the shelter and became very poor towards the cliff and towards the valley. Archaeologically this site was not very large.

gorge d'enfer tools





De Sonneville-Bordes (1960) drew up an inventory of 56 tools kept in the Musée des Eyzies and concluded that despite the absence of spears with split bases it is almost certainly Aurignacian I. In 1907 we have reviewed some of the best from all figures here shown, and have found some pieces formerly neglected and that present some interest now.

The tools shown here are from l'Abri Pasquet, Gorge d'Enfer, Les Eyzies (Dordogne), Aurignacian I.

Drawings by the author, Daniel Raoul.

Artwork, photo and text: Raoul (1970)




gorge d'enfer tools

1) is the base of a broken languette or tongue. In this case the waste is important because it indicates that this type of spear existed at l'Abri Pasquet.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)




gorge d'enfer tools

2) is a lamelle Dufour (Dufour blade) with reverse retouch.

De Sonneville-Bordes(1960) lists two other tools of the same type from the material dug from l'Abri Lartet, undoubtedly belonging to the Aurignacian.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)




The lamelle Dufour is, by definition, a blade, much smaller than the fléchette or dart point (a dart is a light spear thrown with a spear thrower or atlatl). But it is essentially the morphological characters and technology that separates them. The often curved shape of the lamelle Dufour is opposed to the straightness of the fléchette.

inverse retouch
Inverse retouch
Inverse retouch position is the opposite of direct retouch position in that it is formed "when removals start from the dorsal surface" (Tixier 1974). It is more difficult to apply than direct retouch in that the knapper must work from a convex surface on to a flat surface. No traces of it can not be seen from the dorsal face - it is only visible from the ventral surface.

Photo and text: http://www.hf.uio.no/iakh/forskning/sarc/iakh/lithic/retouchposition.html




Other objects shown are:

gorge d'enfer tools

3) Blade with blunted back.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)


gorge d'enfer tools

4) A fragment of a slate pendant, decorated with two rows of notches.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)


gorge d'enfer tools

5) Serrated/denticulate blade.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)


gorge d'enfer tools

6) Burin sur cassure - a burin with a bevel formed at the intersection of a break and the edge of a flake. The working edge is the edge of the broken part.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)


gorge d'enfer tools

7) Burin busqué - A characteristic Middle Aurignacian tool, the beaked chisel or burin. It is a solid, heavily constructed tool whose bevel is formed by a large reduction of diameter from a large base to a relatively small point.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)


Burins are relatively abundant for the Aurignacian (20.56%) and they almost all belong to the family of dihedral burins or chisels, the series has only one burin with oblique truncation. The most interesting group is made up of small tools ( Lacorre (1960), plate IV), which represent a transitional form between the dihedral angle burin and the beaked burin.

(The beaked burin is especially common in the Middle Aurignacian. In appearance it rather resembles the prow of a ship turned upside down; the working edge is convex, being formed by a flat graver facet on one side, and a series of convex graver facets up the prow; this produces a keeled scraper made on the breadth of a blade. There are two sub-varieties, one with a notch to prevent the little convex graver facets from going too far down the blade, and the other without.) Burkitt (1925)

Burin busqué
Burin busqué - the Beaked Burin

Figure 6 - Burin busqué, n°1 : Abri 2, couche 2, et burin busqué à tendance Vachons, n°2 : Abri 1, couche 2 (dessins D. Pesesse). Figure 6 - Burin busqué, n°1 : shelter 2, layer 2 and burin busqué near of the Vachon’s type, n°2 : shelter 1, layer 2 (drawings D. Pesesse).

Photo and text: http://paleo.revues.org/index184.html




abri pataud burin busque burin busque


burin busque burin busque
Un outil caractéristique de l'Aurignacien moyen - le burin busqué. C'est un outil robuste dont le biseau est formé par la rencontre d'un enlèvement lamellaire assez large et de plusieurs enlèvements contigus parfois incurvés et arrêtés par une encoche.

A characteristic Middle Aurignacian tool - the beaked chisel or burin. It is a solid, heavily constructed tool whose bevel is formed by a large reduction of diameter from a large base to a relatively small point.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008

Source: Display at Abri Pataud Museum. These appeared to be originals.




Burin busqué
Burin busqué - the Beaked Burin

Three or more fairly regular spalls, often removed from a Spall Removal Surface (SRS) of dihedral type, approximate a semicircle. An edge of this shape is sometimes described as the "gouge" or "busqué" type.

(This is an excellent diagram of what I think of as a "classic" beaked burin, as described by Burkitt (1925) above. Note the front vertical spall, and the notch taken out of the rear of the burin to make sharpening easier, so that a spall comes off easily when retouching. - Don)

Photo and text: Movius et al (1968)




gorge d'enfer tools gorge d'enfer tools

8) and 11)

Grattoir lamelle, scraper blade, Aurignacian.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)


gorge d'enfer tools

9) Racloir sur lame à troncature oblique - scraper on a blade, with oblique truncation.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)


gorge d'enfer tools

12) caréné épais - thick, keeled scraper.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)


gorge d'enfer tools gorge d'enfer tools gorge d'enfer tools gorge d'enfer tools

10), 14), 15), 16) grattoirs à museau are known in English as muzzle shaped scrapers, or "nose" scrapers.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)


 grattoir museau



This is an illustration, for reference and explanation, from another site, of a particularly good Grattoir à museau, or muzzle shaped scraper.

Photo: http://che70.blog4ever.com/blog/lesphotos-13327-8270.html


gorge d'enfer tools gorge d'enfer tools

17), 18), pièces esquillées , splintered pieces, (we have three), they are frequent in regions with poor flint, as in the vicinity of Brive, and are not common in the Perigord.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)




Pièces Esquillées

The physical aspects of a pièce esquillée are: battered, straight working edge, with overlapping, step-like, horizontal fractures; a thin, concave upper edge, with flutes, showing prominent wave lines, representing the end being struck during use; and the overall thick, wedge like shape. This type of lithic tool is described as having been used as a wedge for splitting bone.

One method for producing the thick flakes used in this process is described as bipolar, employing direct hard percussion against one end of a core or nodule, with the opposite end resting on a stone anvil. However any suitable thick flake was occasionally used, including small, expended/waste cores.

Text above from Wesley (1974)



gorge d'enfer tools

19) blade with oblique truncation.

Photo and text: Raoul (1970)




Other flints collected are common types. There were three shells (gastropods) and a pebble bearing an artificial cupule.

For the sake of completeness, we mention the occurrence of human debris of uncertain age, as well as of pottery.

In summary the identity of the Aurignacian industries of the Abris Lartet, Poisson and Pasquet seems obvious.




From: http://www.guyenne.fr/Publications/Gourgues/Gourgues_part1.htm

Cave bear and Hyena teeth have been found at Gorge d'Enfer.






The Lartet Bone

http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/28/rosenberg.php


Burin busqué
The Lartet bone, shown here, was unearthed at the Gorge d’Enfer in the Vézère Valley in Southern France in 1865, very near the as-yet undiscovered caves of Cro-Magnon and Lascaux.

In a crowded museum, the Blanchard and the Lartet bones would be easy to miss. Both are small, about ten or eleven centimeters in length, easily fitting into the palm of the hand. Both are heavily worked, presenting a flattened surface covered with "a seemingly chaotic, haphazard pitting."3 And so were these artifacts seen for many years: in general, they were interpreted as a "perfect example of non-notational random marking," as symptoms of "man’s urge to ‘decorate,’ or to his ‘need to fill an empty space,’ or to doodle in rare moments of leisure."4 For archaeologists and art historians, the stunning representational cave paintings from the same period and region held much more interest.

For nearly a century no one attempted a thorough analysis of the Lartet bone, even as other similar examples (eventually hundreds of them) turned up. In 1870, its discoverers, the retired French magistrate, Edouard Lartet, and the English businessman, Henry Christy, determined it to be "puzzling," perhaps without any meaning at all, and deposited it in a museum.

Eventually, the Lartet bone found its way to the imposing Musée des Antiquités Nationales in Saint-Germain-en-Laye near Paris, where it was eventually to be joined by the equally perplexing Blanchard bone. And there it would sit, in a scholarly midden, abandoned to a rarely-opened cabinet in a "musty … stone chamber"among "accumulations of Upper Paleolithic materials, crowded under glass with their aged yellowing labels."

One hundred years later, Lartet’s description was still state-of-the-art.

Photo: http://mathed.byu.edu/~williams/Classes/300W2012/PDFs/PPTs/Beginnings%20of%20Counting%20and%20Numbers.pdf







Passages in the Grand Abri and the Oreille d'Enfer

Giraux et al (1907)

Translation by Don Hitchcock


We have the honor to convey to our colleagues of the Prehistoric Society of France, at the meeting of January 24, 1907, of the interesting discovery which has been made by M. Albert Massias, owner of the huge rock containing l'abri de Gorge d'Enfer, near Les Eyzies.

Responding to his invitation, we went, last Feb. 2nd, to Les Eyzies, and we were able to visit the very important work done by him.

gorge d'enfer

Fig. 1

Plan of the Gorge d'Enfer showing the Grand Abri (ABCDEE') and the Oreille d'Enfer (GH).

Photo: Giraux et al (1907)




gorge d'enfer grand abri

Fig. 2

Longitudinal section of the passage at the base of the Grand Abri.

Photo: Giraux et al (1907)




Having noticed a crack that is perpendicular to the bottom of the Grand Abri (Fig. 1,A), Mr Massias has not hesitated to reach the base of this fissure in the ground by opening a huge trench, 29 metres long and about 2 meters wide (Fig. 1, B).

This trench crosses the abri for its whole depth. At the extremity of this trench, it was necessary to dig a pit about two metres deep (Fig. 2 A) and is at the bottom of the excavation that the crack is widest. When we say "widest" it is only in a manner of speaking, for the few people who might be capable of entering the corridor must be skilled gymnasts. The trench abuts the base (Fig. 1, C) of the crack in question, at 250 cm below the original soil.

We abandoned the attempt after two metres!

We confine ourselves, therefore, to giving the information which has been reported to us by those who further explored the area.

This very narrow portion of the passage extends over a length of 10.50 metres and continues in a very tortuous passage, starting at 1 metre wide, then 2.50 m wide, but narrowing to an average width of 1 metre towards the end.

At 20 metres from the entrance is a natural basin (Fig. 2, B) of a metre in diameter. At around 400 metres, which is the greatest distance that we could go, rose a strong spring. (Fig. 2, C).

This spring gives rise to a stream that runs through the end of the gallery for about 100 metres and seeps into the soil (Fig. 2 D) through many cracks, to supply an underground stream or the groundwater. The gallery is therefore a huge conduit for water, above a fault. At intervals one perceives, through cracks in the floor, that the water is approximately 2 metres deep and the water comes into the Abri Gorge d'Enfer, where we find it at a depth of 2.30 m to right and left side of the Abri overhang (fig. 1, E, E'), and it empties into the valley in front of the terrace of the abri.

The floor of the passage, covered with red sand and gravel, is gently sloping. After passing through the first twenty metres, one reaches an elevation of 3 metres, then the floor rises gradually to the far end of the passage.

As to the height of the vaulting, it is impossible to assess during the first twenty metres, but after that point, it is only 1.70 metres, then 1.40 metres in the middle of the passage.

According to information we have from M. Massias, this long passage could not have been inhabited by our ancestors and it was created by the water passing through it.

So we return to the excavations in the Grand Abri.

By examining the walls of the large trench towards the back of the shelter, we can see that the ground has long been crossed by the waters and has formed a kind of immense filter.

We have also noticed several very important prehistoric hearths from which the harvest of flint and bones (Magdalenian industry) was very abundant.

On the left side of the shelter, M, Massias discovered foundations of houses from the Middle Ages (Fig. 1, F), which cover a length of about 14 metres, towards the back of the abri. He found, apart from these foundations, three storage pits a metre deep, one of which contained only fragments of bone, and two others black earth and fragments of pottery from the Middle Ages; beside these foundations, were some prehistoric hearths containing flints and broken bones.

But the most interesting part of the excavation is not in the Grand Abri. Continuing the path to the bottom of the valley and along the outside wall of the rock, we arrive, after having traversed a distance of 80 m at another very small cave, which, owing to its position above the Gorge d'Enfer was called "Oreille d'Enfer" or "Ear of Hell". (Fig. 1, G).

The floor of this cave, which had already been visited by several prehistorians, among others Lartet and Christy, had only been superficially excavated, and only at the entrance.

Mr. Massias removed the earth which filled the cave and was able to penetrate through a corridor of 75cm height, to a depth of 30 metres. This gallery, which we have traveled, is very curious, at approximately 15 metres from the entrance is a fairly large room (Fig 1, H), where you can stand, and then the gallery continues and will probably meet up with the passage at Gorge d'Enfer (Fig. 1, D), in fact, the direction of the wall of the end of the corridor Oreille d'Enfer (currently at 30 meters) agrees perfectly with a meeting of the passage at Gorge d'Enfer, at a point 60 metres from its start. There was a bifurcation in the passage there.

Communication, we believe, will soon be established, the clearance work will be continued very actively.

The walls of the gallery of the Oreille d'Enfer are partly covered with clay and limestone deposits, and we hope to find engravings there one day.

This gallery and especially the terrace which precedes it gave a large quantity of flint and worked bone, which are yet to be described. The first retrievals weigh 300 pounds.

Before concluding this brief communication, we want to draw the particular attention of our colleagues to the tremendous job done with so much science and methodology by M. Albert Massias: this work has required 300 man days and much heavy equipment for the transport and excavation of earth.

One would have hoped that science would more often encounter prehistoric enthusiasts as intelligent and selfless as Mr. Massias and we believe that you will join us in wishing him the praise he deserves.

We add that an agreement was reached between us that the excavations were to continue, and we will inform the Prehistoric Society of France of the fruits of our discoveries.

References

  1. Burkitt M., 1925: Prehistory: a study of early cultures in Europe and the Mediterranean basin, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 1925, Second Edition.
  2. Dawkins W., 1874: Cave Hunting: Researches on the Evidence of Caves Respecting the Early Inhabitants of Europe
  3. de Sonneville-Bordes, Mme, 1960: Le Paléolithique supérieur en Périgord. Imp. Delmas, Bordeaux, 1960, p. 70/
  4. Giraux, L., Schleicher, C., 1907: Travaux et fouilles de Gorge d'Enfer. Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française. 1907, tome 4, N. 3. pp. 164-167
  5. Jaubert, J., 2008: L'art pariétal gravettien en France : éléments pour un bilan chronologique », Paléo, 20 | 2008, 439-474.
  6. Lacorre F., 1960: La Gravette, le Gravettien et le Bayacien, Laval, 1960, 369 pp., 26 fig, 78 planches
  7. Leroi-Gourhan, A., 1984: in L’art des cavernes, 1984, 155
  8. Movius H.L. Jr, David N., Bricker H., Clay B., 1968: The analysis of certain major classes of upper palaeolithic tools: Stratigraphy, American School of Prehistoric Research, Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  9. Movius H.L. Jr, 1977: Excavation of the abri Pataud, Les Eyzies (Dordogne): Stratigraphy, American School of Prehistoric Research, bull. 31, Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 167 p., planches h. t.
  10. Peyrony, D., 1906: Une nouvelle station aurignacienne à Gorge d'Enfer, AFAS, Lyon, 1906
  11. Peyrony, D., 1906b: Le Périgord préhistorique. Bull. S.H.A.P. 1946, p. 26.
  12. Peyrony, D., 1932: Les Abris Lartet et du poisson a Gorge-d'Enfer (Dordogne), Masson et Cie., 1932 - 27 pages
  13. Raoul, D., 1970: Note sur l'Aurignacien de l'abri Pasquet à Gorge-d'Enfer, Les Eyzies (Dordogne). Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française. 1970, tome 67, N. 6. pp. 174-175.
  14. Raoul, D., 1970: Note sur l'Aurignacien de l'abri Pasquet à Gorge-d'Enfer, Les Eyzies (Dordogne). Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française. 1970, tome 67, N. 6. pp. 174-175.
  15. Sieveking, A., 1979: The Cave Artists, Thames and Hudson
  16. Tixier, J. (translated by M. Newcomer), 1974: Glossary for the Description of Stone Tools with Special Reference to the Epipalaeolithic of the Maghreb, Newsletter of Lithic Technology: Special Publication Number 1 - December 1974
  17. Wesley W, 1974: Pièces Esquillées in the Southeast. Florida Anthropologist, vol. 27, no. 4, December 1974, p. 161.





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