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Laugerie Basse

Laugerie Basse

The original Laugerie Basse, known as l'abri Classique, was completely excavated, and the abri is now occupied by buildings, including shops, a restaurant and private dwellings.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008



Laugerie Basse





This shows the present walk up to the Laugerie Basse area, with l'abri Classique on the left screened by trees, and l'abri des Marseilles on the right, with the distinctive 'cap' of overhanging stone.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014




Laugerie Basse





L'abri des Marseilles, 50 metres from l'abri Classique, is also often referred to as Laugerie Basse, and is the abri which visitors to the Laugerie Basse site are able to inspect.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014




Laugerie Basse





This map of the area shows clearly how the two abris are related.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: English language handout for the tour of 'Laugerie Basse', in fact of l'abri des Marseilles.






Laugerie Basse l'abri des Marseilles

Laugerie-Basse, l'abri des Marseilles, upper section.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014



Laugerie Basse is an abri, a rock shelter rather than a cave, on the right bank of the Vézère River, across the bridge from the small tourist town of Les Eyzies. Laugerie Basse is about fifteen metres deep and fifty metres long.

The site is made of two rockshelters: the Abri des Marseilles and the Abri classique. Between the Grand Roc cave and the Abri is the museum displaying general information about mobile art. Videos about geology, archeology, the way of life and symbolic expression are available.

The excavations carried out during the 1860s by Edouard Lartet did not accurately record the stratigraphy of the site. The stratigraphy was not established until around the First World War. There are four Magdalenian phases, III, IV, V, VI, during the Würm IV, represented in this site.

The Laugerie Basse Venus, 'Venus Impudique' (Immodest Venus) was discovered in 1864 by the Marquis Paul de Vibraye. It was the first Venus figure found in France.



map laugerie basse

Map showing the location of Laugerie Basse

Source: http://www.grandroc.com/laugerie/localisation_uk.htm


Laugerie Basse history of art

Chronology of Palaeolithic art, culture and industries

Photo: Display, Laugerie-Basse, l'abri des Marseilles

Laugerie Basse  art on objects

Art on objects from Laugerie Basse

Photo: Display, Laugerie-Basse, l'abri des Marseilles



Laugerie Basse
Laugerie Basse (that is, l'abri Classique, shown in this photo) is about fifteen metres deep and fifty metres long.

The excavations carried out during the 1860s by Edouard Lartet did not accurately record the stratigraphy of the site. The stratigraphy was not established until around the First World War, at which time it was completely excavated down to bedrock.

There are four Magdalenian phases, III, IV, V, VI, during the Würm IV, represented in this site.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Text: translated and adapted from Wikipedia.




Laugerie Basse




1 Cro Magnon
2 Roc de Tayac
3 Gorge d'Enfer
4 Laugerie Basse
5 Laugeris Haute
6 La Micoque
7 Les Eyzies
8 Rocher de la Peine
9 Grotte des Eyzies
10 Grotte de Font de Gaume
11 Les Girouteaux
12 Grotte Rey
13 Grotte des Combarelles
14 Grotte de la Mouthe
15 Église de Guilhem
16 Cavernes voisines de
       l'église de Guilhem
17 Grotte de Renard
18 Carrières de kaolin
19 Fort du Pech Saint-Sourd
20 Château de Marzac
21 Liveyre
22 La Madeleine
23 La Roque St-Christophe
24 Le Moustier
24 bis Le Ruth
25 Grotte de Vieil-Mouly
26 Grotte de Bernifal
27 Château de Comarque
28 Abri du Cap-Blanc
29 Station de Cazelle
30 Grotte de La Grèze
31 Château de Laussel
32 Abri de Laussel.

Photo: Peyrony (1922)









venus impudique



The Venus Impudique of Laugerie Basse


This was the first Venus figure found in France.



artefacts
38: Bâton percé, spear straightener.

39 to 42: Pendeloque, pendant.

43: Poinçon, awl.

44: Poinçon gravé, engraved awl.

45: Aiguille à chas, eyed needle.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




artefacts
46: Sagaie gravée, engraved spearpoint, without a bevel or fork.

47: Sagaie à base simple, spearpoint without a bevel or fork.

48, 52 and 54: Sagaie à biseau simple, spearpoint with a single bevel to attach it to the spear shaft.

49: Sagaie à base fourchue, spearpoint with a forked base.

50: Sagaie à biseau double, spearpoint with a double bevelled base.

51: Harpon, single sided harpoon.

53 and 55: Sagaie de Lussac-Angles, this spear tip is of the Lussac-Angles type. These are from the Middle Magdalenian, and are rather short and wide to lanceolate, on a single bevel, sharp at the distal end, with a long unstriated bevel, always on the upper side, and a groove frequently on the underside, facing the viewer in this case.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




artefacts
56 and 57: Fléchette, fléchettes are leaf-shaped points characterised by short, semi-abrupt retouch, sometimes inverse, at one or both extremities of the blade blank, extending sometimes along one or both margins.

58 and 59: Pointe de Laugerie-Basse.
Note that there are two very different points given this name, see below.

60 and 61: Lamelle à dos, small backed blade.

62: Lamelle denticulée, small toothed blade.

63: Lissoir, polisher used to stretch hides in the tanning process.

64: Ciseau, 'chisel' or wedge.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




La Madeleine tools and artefacts
The Laugerie-Basse point has a particular shape and method of retouch which makes it quite unique.

Photo: Bordes et al. (1973)




artefacts
65 and 66: Perçoir, drill.

67: Perçoir double, drill at each end of the tool.

68 and 69: Grattoir-burin, scraper-burin.

70: Bec double, a tool with two usable drill points, or a 'double beaked' tool.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




artefacts
71 to 74: Grattoir, scraper.

75: Burin.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




artefactsartefacts
Gravure figurant au recto une femme couchée entre les pattes d'un renne et au verso un cheval, moulage, bois de renne.

Engraved on the front, a woman lying between the legs of a reindeer, with a horse engraved on the back.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Laugerie Basse Femme au renne. Fragment d'omoplate de bovidé. Sur la face représentée, une femme est couchée sur le dos, manifestement enceinte et proche du terme, sous ou en arrière d'un cervidé mâle dont les membres postérieurs sont figurés en avant des jambes de la femme. La femme est parée de bracelets et semble porter un collier. Longueur 100 mm. Lithographie de J. Pilloy publiée en 1907 dans "L'art à l'époque du renne d'E. Piette. L'original est conservé au musée des Antiquités nationales.

Woman with reindeer. Fragment of a bovine scapula. A woman is shown lying on her back, obviously pregnant and close to term, under or behind a male cervid whose rear limbs are illustrated in front of the legs of the woman. The woman is adorned with bracelets and seems to wear a collar. Length 100 mm. Lithographie de J. Pilloy publiée en 1907 dans "L'art à l'époque du renne d'E. Piette. L'original est conservé au musée des Antiquités nationales.

The lines on the woman's belly may be stretch marks.

Dimensions: 101 mm x 65 mm

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



artefacts
Petit animal sculpté en boise de renne (moulage)

Small animal carved in reindeer antler. Note the small hole in the chin, presumably so that the figurine could be used as a pendant.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




artefacts
Bâton percé sculpté figurant un cervidé (moulage)

Spear thrower with a sculpture of a deer.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




artefacts
Poisson sculpté en bois de renne (moulage)

Fish sculpted in reindeer antler.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Supplicant Supplicant Supplicant
The Venus of Laugerie Basse - the Supplicant.

This venus is a tiny, broken, crudely carved statuette of reindeer antler, 44 millimetres long, depicting a faceless human bent forward as though in supplication, with arms raised as if in prayer or adoration.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




disc
Rondelle découpée en os gravée (moulage)

Disc cut out and engraved, in bone.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




spear thrower spear thrower
(left) Bâton sculptée figurant un bouquetin (moulage)

Baton carved with the likeness of an ibex.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye

(right) Épingle en os sculptée.

Pin carved from bone.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Probably facsimile, although not marked as such, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




spear throwerspear straightener
Bâton percé sculpté figurant deux bisons (moulage)

Spear straightener carved with two bisons.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye






baton

Baguette gravée figurant une file de chevaux (moulage)

A rod engraved with a line of horses.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye



pendant
Pendeloque en os gravée (moulage)

Engraved pendant in bone. Note the unusual decoration, evoking plant life.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Laugerie Basse
Red ochre, probably haematite, and a godet, or small cup for grinding ochre.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Laugerie Basse small saws





Late Magdalenian saws from the Dordogne. Both items were found at Laugerie-Basse, a large rockshelter on the right bank of the Vézère River at Les Eyzies with middle, upper and late Magdalenian layers. Laugerie-Basse was one of the first rock shelters that was excavated by Lartet and Christy in 1863 and by Marquis de Vibraye, working independently in 1864.

Dimensions: The saws are 37 x 5 x 2 mm and 20 x 3 x 1 mm respectively.


Microlithic saws appear first in the Pavlovian of southern Moravia (Pavlov I, Dolni Vestonice and Jarosov II) and in the Wachau region at the middle Danube near Vienna (Krems-Wachtberg 1930 excavations and new excavations during recent years, Krems Hundsteig including Kesseldorfers findings in the late 19th century, and new excavations). These implements are also present in the late Magdalenian in S/W-France (Laugerie Basse) and further south (Bruniquel, Duruthy). Denticulated bladelets are known from the north African Epipaleolithic, but their denticulation is often bilateral and more restricted. In the Neolithic of Northern and East Europe and the Bronze Age, fine denticulation on silex sickles became very important.

Paleolithic saws were recognised as early as 1863 by Lartet and Christy but their function remains essentially unknown. Traceologic investigations (the study of wear marks) are not available for Magdalenian saws and indeterminate results have recently been described for the Pavlov samples by Andra Sajnerova.



Photo and text: by kind permission of Katzman, whose very interesting blog on various tools may be found at: Aggsbach's Paleolithic Blog







Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse
On the way to the abri, which is open all year, this interesting recreation of a shelter using a dry stone wall technique and thatching appears.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Laugerie Basse


Entering the Abri. The ladder to the hole in the cliff used by a watchman can be seen to the right of the entrance, see the image below.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008


Laugerie Basse





Hole in the cliff reached by a ladder for a watchman, a Trou de Guetteur.

There was an extensive network of these up and down the Vézère valley to warn of invaders during wartime.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014


Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse


Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse
The first part of the abri shows what a commodious shelter it was, with very good protection from the elements, but with plenty of light available, on a dry and level floor.


Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Laugerie Basse
This spring, which runs year round, would have been a real bonus for the inhabitants. The water is sweet and good. It is situated in the lower section of the abri.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014




Laugerie Basse

Laugerie Basse, with the coupe or cross section of the dig left by the excavators.

Photo: http://www.guide-du-perigord.com/




Laugerie Basse coupe marseilles

l'abri des Marseilles coupe.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014




Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse


The area has been dug out to a considerable depth.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014




Laugerie Basse
The guide spoke only in French, which was fortunately not spoken too fast, so that I was able to follow most of what he said. Anyone going to France and going on an unaccompanied trip of this kind will find it invaluable to be able to speak the language. Few people outside major cities, airports and hotels speak anything other than French. You will need French to hire cars, order meals, ask directions, check in to a camping area, buy groceries, everything.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse
The levels when people used the caves were darker in colour than those where there was no occupation.

It is possible that the climatic conditions in the intervening periods between habitations were such that a lot of rock and gravel fell from the roof of the abri during very cold periods because of alternate freezing and thawing.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014




Laugerie Basse
Parts of the dark deposits were almost entirely flint, indicating that the area was heavily used for flint knapping. This was especially so in the nearby abri Laugerie Haute, where the flint layers were very thick, perhaps thirty centimetres or so.

The age of the deposits range from 10 000 to 15 000 years before the present (BP), the present being always taken as 1950 for the sake of consistency.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014




Laugerie Basse

Exit via the tunnel from the main display area of the dig.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014




Laugerie Basse

The tunnel provides an exit for the water from the spring, which flows year round.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014




Laugerie Basse

The tunnel was dug from this side, underneath the huge rocks which had tumbled from the cliff above. The tunnel had to be carefully strengthened as it was dug.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014




Laugerie Basse

The tunnel is dwarfed by the cliff and overhanging rock above.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014




Laugerie Basse
Propulseur à crochet en bois de renne

This propulseur, or atlatl, or spear thrower, was completed in wood for the handle and reindeer horn for the hook, since the reindeer horn is very tough and strong, and easily worked.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Laugerie Basse
Propulseur femelle uniquement en bois

Experts categorise propulseurs in several categories, including male and female. The propulseur in the previous photo would be male, since it uses a hook to connect to a depression in the end of the dart. In the case shown here, made entirely of wood, it is designated female, since it uses a cup shaped end to hold the spear, instead of a hook.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Laugerie Basse
Fixation des pointes de sagaie

1. Harpon en bois de renne à point détachable
2. Pointe en os ligaturée au boyau
3. Emmanchement au brai de bouleau
4. Emmanchement d'une pièce de silex au tendon


Attaching points to spears
1. Detachable harpoon made of reindeer antler
2. Point of bone tied to the shaft with gut
3. Attachment using birch bark pitch (This may be made by drying fresh birch bark at room temperature and then heating it to a high temperature in a covered vessel. The result is a tarry material sticky enough to be an adhesive.)
4. Attachment of a piece of flint by tying on with a tendon

Techniques d'Empennage

(Plumes qui garnissent le talon de la sagaie)
1. Plume entière ligaturée au boyau
2. Demi plume ligaturée au boyau
3. Demi plume ligaturée au tendon
4. Demi plume collée au brai de bouleau

Fletching Techniques

(Feathers on the end of the spear)

  1. The whole feather tied with gut
  2. Half feathers tied with gut
  3. Half feathers tied with tendon
  4. Half feathers glued with birch pitch

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008


Laugerie Basse
Harpon à simple rang de barbelure
Harpoon with a single row of barbs

Harpon de type Azilien
The Azilien harpoon is small (rarely over 10 cm), its shape is flat and has at the base a hole for the attachment of a strap, which shows that this weapon would detach on impact.




Foêne
A foêne is a multipronged spear head, usually used for fishing. Neptune's trident is a familiar example.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008


Laugerie Basse
Various stages in preparing reindeer antlers and bone for use as a harpoon.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Laugerie Basse
Perçoir sur lame.

Drill for making holes made on a blade.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Laugerie Basse
Perçoir sur éclat.

Drill for making holes made on a flake.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Laugerie Basse
Nucléus et lames en cours de débitage.

Core and blades during knapping.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Laugerie Basse tools Laugerie Basse rabots

(left) Flint tools and other stone objects from Laugerie Basse.

These are superbly fashioned tools - note in particular the fine drills (14 and 15) probably used for making holes in jewellery, and the saw at 2.

(right) Rabots from Laugerie Basse. Rabots are heavy 'push-plane' scrapers made on blocks or thick flakes, abruptly retouched. They were even part of the Mousterian toolkit, and remained virtually unchanged in these much later tools.

Photo: Bourlon (1916)




Laugerie Basse
This is an ancient room for a watchman reached only by a rickety ladder. The whole area around Les Eyzies has been used for habitation not only in palaeolithic times, but nearly continuously right up to the present.

From the middle ages at least, houses were built against the rock, with beams let into holes dug in the limestone, and grooves cut in the rock so that flashing could be inserted, and thus divert rain water running down the rock surface to flow harmlessly over the roof rather than down the inside rock wall of the dwelling.

In this case, however, the hole in the rock would have been surrounded by a small shelter high up in the cliff for the use only of the watchman and his relief.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse


Laugerie Basse
After the tour, the guide allowed all who wished a try with throwing a spear, or dart, using an atlatl, at a target he had set up.

I don't know whether the original atlatls / propulseurs had this little stand for the dart, but it is a great invention. It makes the throwing of the dart easy, and requires very little skill to get a good result. The photograph on the right (above) shows the hook or crochet on the propulseur, made of bone or reindeer antler.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




noisemakers - whistle and flute and bullroarer



Music and dance are ephemeral art forms. However the existence of music in the Paleolithic is attested by the discovery of several types of instruments: flutes, whistles, bull-roarers and scrapers.

Drums probably existed in the Paleolithic, but these instruments made of wood and skin are rarely if ever preserved. However, in some caves, calcite sheets or curtains showing traces of percussion testify to the rhythmical talents of prehistoric musicians.




60: Bone flute, facsimile, from Isturitz, Atlantic Pyrenees.

61: Whistle in bone, original, from Laugerie-Basse, Dordogne.

62: Bullroarer or rhombus or turndun, facsimile, in reindeer antler, Lalinde, Dordogne. Note the colour, originally from ochre, and the regular straight lines and rectangles decorating it.

63: Scraper, or scraped idiophone, original, from Mas d'Azil, Ariège. This one seems to have been made from a salvaged broken spear straightener.

Scraped idiophones (an idiophone is defined as a musical instrument from which the sound comes from the natural sonorous quality of the instrument itself, not from a stretched string or hide or enclosed column of air) are rasps or notched sticks over which another stick is scraped, resulting in a series of beats.

Photo: Kathy King 2010

Source: Image and translated and adapted text from the display at Musée d'archéologie nationale, Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Laugerie Basse bone tools Laugerie Basse bone tools

Worked bone from Laugerie Basse.

Note in particular the harpoons (10, 11, 12) on the left, and the bone needles at 8 and 10 on the right, as well as the bone flute at number 15 on the right.

Photo: Bourlon (1916)




big cat tail
Laugerie Basse - Omoplate de renne

Scapula (shoulder blade) of a reindeer, engraved with the tail of a cave lion.
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008

Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




Laugerie Basse


Hypothesis for the reconstruction of the lion engraved on the bone. The arrows indicate the possible variations for the position of the head, the neck and the front legs.
Photo and translated text: Crémades et Laville (1995)




Laugerie Basse


This is a facsimile of an engraved reindeer found in Laugerie Basse.

Photographed at the Maison Forte de Reignac à Tursac.

Photo: Père Igor
Permission: Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike 3.0




Laugerie Basse


Decorated pieces of reindeer antler, using abstract designs.

Photo: Bourlon (1916)




Laugerie Basse


Decorated piece of reindeer antler. A horse has been engraved on one side, and a feline on the other.

Photo: Bourlon (1916)




Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse

Laugerie Basse - Aurochs et rennes

Aurochs and reindeer are listed on this piece - though for a long time I could not see the reindeer!

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008

Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




Laugerie Basse aurochs reindeer

Laugerie Basse - Aurochs et rennes

This is the same image upside down, which allows the reindeer to be seen easily.

My thanks to Cecilie who found the reindeer for me!

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008

Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




Laugerie Basse animal engravings Laugerie Basse animal engravings

Animal engravings at Laugerie Basse, ca 30 000 BP.

Source: Original on display at Berlin: Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte Berlin-Charlottenburg




Laugerie Basse  engravings





The aurochs hunter, Laugerie Basse.

Notice that because it is a three dimensional object, the arm extends beyond the boundary of the two dimensional rendering, around the artefact. Photo: Massenat (1869)




Laugerie Basse  engravings





The aurochs hunter, Laugerie Basse.

Photo: Mayet et Pissot (1915)




Laugerie Basse  engravings





The aurochs hunter, Laugerie Basse.

Source: Original.

Photo: Marshack (1972)




Laugerie Basse


Decorated piece of reindeer antler, carved in the likeness of an animal's head, possibly a feline or bear.

Photo: Bourlon (1916)




Laugerie Basse


Decorated piece of bone, carved in the likeness of a deer, with decorative dots along the neck and face.

Photo: Bourlon (1916)




Laugerie Basse animal engravings

Engraved plaque from Laugerie Basse.

Photo: http://www.konsthall.malmo.se/o.o.i.s/4409




compresseurs
19 La Madelaine - Compresseur - Magdalénien

20 Saint-Germain-la-Rivière - Bâton percé (pierced baton) - Magdalénien

21 Grotte des Eyzies - Fragment de côte (rib) - Magdalénien

22 Pont-d'Ambon - Fragment d'os (fragment of bone) - Azilien

23 Laugerie-Basse Bois de cervidé (deer antler) - Magdalénien

(Note - number 20 seems mislabelled, it seems not to be a Bâton percé, it is much more likely to be a compresseur, used for doing delicate retouch on a flint tool - Don)

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac





Laugerie Basse


Engraved bones.

A is a human leg, rather well drawn.
B may be a canine
C is a male animal, possibly a bison judging by the beard, though the rear legs appear too small and weak for a bison.
D is an indeterminate animal, possibly a reindeer.

Photo: Bourlon (1916)




Laugerie Basse


Engraved piece of schist from Laugerie Basse.

On one side is a reindeer, on the other an aurochs.

Photo: Bourlon (1916)




Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse
L'Abri des Marseilles in the Vézère valley. This valley used to host animal species that are typical of cold climates and that have now disappeared, such as the mammoth or the hairy rhino, and also species that still live today in polar regions, such as the musk ox, the polar fox and the reindeer. Excavations in Laugerie Basse show that 90% of all bones discovered were reindeer bones. There is a flint piece very distinctive of the area called the Laugerie-Basse point, a foliate piece with a delicate marginal retouch.

The path in these photos leads back from the tunnel used to exit the abri to form a loop with the start of the tour.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Laugerie Basse
Photographie du site de Laugerie-Basse publiée par E. Cartailhac en 1889, dans "La France préhistorique". "Les fouilles de Lartet, Christy, de Vibraye, Massénat ont eu lieu dans le talus, sous les maisons" indique-t-il. La première maison, qui existe encore, est celle de Léonard Delpeyrat, un fouilleur célèbre de Laugerie-Basse. Plus loin se trouve la ferme Langlade et les restes d'une grange.

Photograph of the site of Laugerie-Basse published by E Cartailhac in 1889, in "La France préhistorique".

The caption to the photograph reads "The excavations of Lartet, Christy, of Vibraye, Massénat took place in the slope, under the houses". The first house, which still exists, is that of Léonard Delpeyrat, a digger who worked at Laugerie Basse. Further on is the Langlade farm and the remains of the Langlade barn.

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



Laugerie Basse
Gravure de E.A. Tilly publiée en 1887 dans un livre de vulgarisation de H. de Cleuziou "La création de l'homme et les premiers âges de l'humanité". Au premier plan se trouve la grange Langlade, en ruines, où furent effectuées diverses fouilles. Tout au fond, on aperçoit la falaise du Roc de Tayac, en aval de Gorge d'Enfer.

Engraving by E.A. Tilly published in 1887 in a popularisation by H. de Cleuziou, "The creation of Man and the First Ages of Humanity". In the foreground is the Langlade barn, in ruins, where various excavations were carried out. Further on in the background can be seen the cliff of the Roc de Tayac, downstream from Gorge d'Enfer, the Gorge of Hell.

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



Laugerie Basse
Coupe schématique de l'abri classique publiée par D. Peyrony en 1914. -



Diagramatic cut of the traditional shelter published by D. Peyrony in 1914. -



Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.

Laugerie Basse Dig
Laugerie Basse excavation. Here the Venus figure called 'Impudique' was discovered in 1864 by the Marquis Paul de Vibraye. It was the first Venus figure found in France.

Photo: 'Secrets of the Ice Age' by Evan Hadingham, Heinemann 1980



Laugerie Basse
Emplacement du squelette de Laugerie-Basse sous une bergerie elle-même construite sur un amas de blocs rocheux. La position précise de cette bergerie n'a pas pu être retrouvée. Dessin publié par E. Cartailhac en 1872, date de la découverte.

Site of the skeleton of Laugerie Basse under a sheep-pen itself built on a cluster of rock blocks. The precise position of this sheep pen could not be found. Drawing published by E Cartailhac in 1872, date of the discovery.

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



Laugerie Basse
Squelette humain de Laugerie-Basse. Il gisait en position repliée, coudes et genoux se touchant presque. Plusieurs coquillages perforés étaient associés à cette sépulture, notamment deux espèces de cyprées (porcelaines) originaires de la Méditerranée. Dessin publié par E. Cartailhac en 1889 dans "la France préhistorique".

Human skeleton of Laugerie Basse. It lay in a foetal position, elbows and knees almost touching. Several perforated shells were associated this burial, in particular two species of cyprées (porcelains) originating in the Mediterranean.
Drawing published by E Cartailhac in 1889 in "la France préhistorique".

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



Laugerie Basse
Os iliaque avec représentation d'un cheval tourné à droite dont une fracture a détruit la tête. L'animal est finement gravé et, cas exceptionnel, ses contours ont été également peints à l'ocre rouge. Longueur 110 mm.
Fouilles Le Bel et Maury à la grange Langlade. Musée national de Préhistoire.

Part of a pelvic bone with the representation of a horse turned to the right whose fracture has destroyed the head. The animal is finely engraved and, exceptionally, its contours were also painted with the red ochre. Length 110 mm.    Excavations Le Bel et Maury at the Langlade barn. Musée national de Préhistoire.

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



Laugerie Basse
Laugerie Basse Bâton cylindrique en bois de renne, perforé à son extrémité gauche, portant la profonde gravue d'un grand félin, peut-être une panthère, animal rarement représenté. Le dessin en déroulé d'H. Breuil montre l'animal dans son entier. Longueur figurée 160 mm. Fouilles Le Bel et Maury. Coll. de la Société préhistorique française au musée de l'Homme.

Cylinder made of reindeer antler, perforated at its left end, carrying a deeply incised image of a large cat-like animal, perhaps a panther, which is an animal seldom represented in cave art. The drawing by H. Breuil shows the animal in its entirety. Length of the drawing 160 mm.     Excavations Le Bel et Maury. Coll. de la Société préhistorique française au musée de l'Homme.

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



Laugerie Basse Face humaine gravée sur un galet de roche tendre, probablement une stéatite. Des traces d'ocre rouge s'observent au fond des traits. Hauteur 57 mm. Musée d'Aquitaine.

Human face engraved on a soft rock pebble, probably steatite (soapstone). Traces of red ochre may be seen at the bottom of the face. Height 57 mm. Musée of Aquitaine.

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



Laugerie Basse abri des Marsailles
This is a flat bone, found at l'abri des Marseilles which has been carefully scraped and prepared. The species of the two fish shown are unknown. The one on the right appears to be seen from beneath. Length 58 mm.

There is what appears to be a feather drawn beneath the fish, though it may be a fragment of a plant.

They are reminiscent of an Escher drawing.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord at Périgueux



Laugerie Basse

An engraving of a bison on a pebble from Laugerie Basse. It may have been a preparatory sketch for a painting in one of the caves.

Note the way the hooves are pointed down, not in a naturalistic position. It may be that the sketch was made from 'life' - a bison kill.
Photo: T. Powell 'Prehistoric Art'



Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse Très mince rondelle en os, de 31 mm de diamètre, perforée en son centre, avec sur chaque face la représentation d'un herbivore et des signes en chevron le long des bords. Cette oeuvre d'art miniature fut découverte en 1868 par M. Hardy et publiée pour la première fois en 1872 dans "Le Magasin pittoresque", revue populaire de l'époque.



Very thin disc in bone, 31 mm. in diameter, perforated in its center, with on each face the representation of a herbivore (deer?) and chevrons along the edges. This miniature work of art was discovered in 1868 by M. Hardy and was published for the first time in 1872 in "Le Magasin pittoresque", a popular review of the time.

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse


Click either of these images to see an animation.

It may have been a button, or the hole in the centre may have been to put a cord through, which, when twisted and pulled to make it spin, gave the impression of the deer in two positions, on its feet and with the body on the ground.

Perhaps it was a plaything for children.

Animation by Don Hitchcock.



carving carving
Engraving of an aurochs and a bison from Mas d'Azil.

This may have been used as a button, the two sides are quite different.

The one on the left depicts an adult aurochs considered a female because of the fine features of the head. The withers and chest are marked with small incisions. Horns and ears are sketched. The eye and the nostril are shown as points.

The other side of the disk shows a young bison, which, according to the size of the horn and the curvature of the hump might be about five months old. This young bison is half the size of the adult animal. Again, we find the same incisions along the shoulder and the chest. Aurochs females sometimes adopted baby bison.

(I assume similar behaviour between cattle and bison has been recorded in zoos - Don )

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




scapula

This scapula from Mas d'Azil was used as the base material for round disks similar to the ones above.

It would seem not much care was taking in making the buttons completely round at the roughing out stage.

Photo: http://www.musee-archeologienationale.fr/template.php?SPAGE=2276





Laugerie Basse reindeer head Fragment de ramure de renne avec gravure de la tête du même animal pourvu d'une large palme digitée caractéristique de l'espèce. Dans sa simplicité, cette gravure est néanmoins très expressive. Coll. Le Bel et Maury. musée national de Préhistoire.

Fragment of reindeer antler with an engraving of the head of a reindeer bearing a broad palmate antler characteristic of the species. Despite its simplicity, this engraving is nevertheless very expressive. Coll. Le Bel et Maury. musée national de Préhistoire.

French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008

Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac



Laugerie Basse Motifs bilobés en forme de rein et gravés sur un fragment de schiste ardoisier encoché sur les bords. Longueur 48 mm. Musée du Périgord.

Bilobate motifs in the shape of a kidney and engraved on a slate fragment notched on the edges. Length 48 mm. Musée du Périgord.

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



Laugerie Basse Galet calcaire perforé à une extrémité, avec ébauche d'une autre perforation à la cassure. Les deux faces portent de fins traits gravés entrecroisés. Cette pièce ressemble à plusieurs autres datant du Magdalénien final et de l'Azilien connus en Périgord, dans le Lot, en Ariège et dans le Doubs. Longueur 41 mm. Musée du périgord.

Calcareous pebble perforated at one end, with the outline of another perforation at the other broken end. The two faces carry fine intersecting engraved features. This piece resembles several others dating from the final Magdalenian and Azilien known in Périgord, in Lot, in Ariège and in Doubs. Length 41 mm. Musée du périgord.

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



Laugerie Basse Spirale constituée d'un fil d'or enroulé en ressort pesant 18 grammes. Datant peut-être de l'âge du bronze, cet ornement fut trouvé dans une anfractuosité de la falaise au-dessus de la grotte du Grand Roc avec une rondelle d'ambre perforée et divers objets d'époques variées. Coll. J. Maury.

Spiral made up of a gold wire rolled up into a helix weighing 18 grams. Perhaps dating from the bronze age, this ornament was found in a crevice of the cliff above the cave of the Grand Roc with a perforated disc of amber and various other objects from a variety of times. Coll. J Maury.

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



Laugerie Basse

Harpoon for salmon from Laugerie Basse
Photo: V. Megaw and R. Jones 'The Dawn of Man'




Laugerie Basse
Foëne et harpons en bois de renne. On ignore si la foëne (à gauche) servait à pêcher, ou à chasser des oiseaux. Les têtes de harpons, emmanchées, ont pu servir à atteindre du gibier terrestre ou des poissons de bonne taille. Les harpons aplatis et perforés (à droite) sont du Magdalénien final ou de l'Azilien. Longueur du plus long harpon 171 mm. Musée du Périgord.

Foëne (multi-pronged spear) and harpoons out of reindeer antlers. It is unclear if the foëne (on the left) was used to fish, or to hunt birds. The heads of harpoons, fixed on a shaft, could be used to impale terrestrial game or fish of a fairly large size. The flattened and perforated (probably to accept a cord or leather thong attached to the throwing shaft) harpoons (on the right) are of final Magdalenian or Azilian (9 500 - 9 000 BC) age. Length of the longest harpoon 171 mm. Périgord Museum.

Photo and French text: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse - Alain Roussot - Editions Sud-Ouest.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.






Les Fouilles de M. J.-A. Le Bel

par J. Maury, Membre de la Societé préhistorique Francaise

Maury (1925)

Translation by Don Hitchcock


 Marseilles Abri



Abri des Marseilles, during excavation.

Photo: Maury (1925)




Laugerie Basse, on the right bank of the Vézère, 1200 metres from the Les Eyzies railway station, forms part of the commune of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac (Dordogne) and the place is famous as much for its wild and picturesque beauty, as the incomparable prehistoric gisement, still unexhausted, despite the excavations of the last sixty years.

The Vézère river flowing at its feet dug a limestone valley, 80 metres deep, with vertical rock faces evident in many places, from le Moustier until the environs of Bugue.

Lizard dordogne



The Vézère River.

Photo: Mariaesther, Panoramio via Google Earth




The work of water on these walls has formed caves and large abris or rock shelters that served as shelters and homes to our early ancestors, thus promoting a concentration of artefacts which was to become very important, if we base our assessment on the thickness of the prehistoric layers and the amount of collected objects.

In his chapter from the Tour de France (Volume VI), 1912, Marcel Baudouin, has called this area the prehistoric capital of France. A felicitous phrase, for indeed, we encounter ancient remains everywhere we look, thanks to the natural rock shelters of the country.

In this prehistoric capital, Laugerie was certainly in a privileged position, our ancestors were attracted by the huge shelters, the many springs gushing from the cliff, the hunting on the top of the plateaus and the fishing at their feet.

The orientation also is excellent, and if the habitation was ideal for the Magdalenian, we can say that it was also so for their descendants, since many collected artefacts indicate an uninterrrupted occupation up to the present day. The cabin replaced the hut, it gave way to the cottage and the latter to the house.

Currently, the house is more comfortable, but it retains its original character, as its roof, or at least part of it, is formed by the rock itself.

History of the excavations

Two large arched cliffs, several hundred metres long, about 20 metres deep and 15 metres in height, form Laugerie Basse.

One of these arches, forming a traditional abri or rock shelter, particularly drew the attention of scientists and others who since 1862 have come here to excavate.

Messieurs Ed. Lartet and H. Christy, the Marquis de Vibray, L. Landesque, Elie Massenat, L. Delpeyrat, Michel Hardy, Gustave Marty, Emile Riviere and Paul Girod were the main excavators. A quantity of objects of great interest was recovered.

Part of this hoard was disseminated in private collections, and the rest, the more important, is a major attraction in the prehistory section of our Musée d'Archéologie nationale et Domaine national de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. In London, the British Museum also possesses a very important collection.

The Museum of our department administrative centre, Périgueux, is distinguished by the fine collections of the excavations of Louis Landesque and Michel Hardy.

More recently, around 1907, the Swiss commercial archaeologist Otto Hauser (he sold most of what he found - Don ) rented Laugerie Basse for three years. The excavations were very fruitful, and most of it was shipped to Germany to be sold.

A native of the area, and returning to live there after a long absence, I learned in 1912 that the Langlade property , including the two large shelters cited above, would be sold or at least re-let to Otto Hauser.

I reported the danger of this to my distinguished friend, M. le commandant Cazenave, Member of the Societé Préhistorique Francaise, who in turn reported it to the Society, and especially to MM. Hue and Baldwin, Council members. Quickly, thanks to them, M. Le Bel (Honorary and acting President of the Societé Préhistorique Francaise) was informed and they decided to rent the Langlade property, with promise of sale, with the intention of recommencing excavations.



Excavations, stratigraphy and discoveries.

The excavations began in the spring of the year 1912. M. Le Bel was willing to entrust us with its direction. This was facilitated for us in the beginning by M. Peyrony, who helped us with his advice, while lending us some of his staff.

We soon saw that the success of a search in the part of the abri under the vault was possible only with the complete demolition of an old barn, a place not excavated by our predecessors. For this, the purchase of the property was required. On the instructions of M. Le Bel, confirming this purchase, the work began.

On digging a trench parallel to an old wall, and perpendicular to the base of the shelter, we found that the untouched portions were more important than we at first supposed.

See Maury (1914a), Maury (1914b)

At the base, lying on an almost horizontal ground of limestone boulders, was found:

1. A first brown archaeological layer of 10 cm to 25 cm thick.
2. Above that, a sterile layer 20 cm thick.
3. A second archaeological layer of grey earth, with many hearths, especially towards the top, 50 cm thick
4. Finally, a third archaeological layer on average 30 cm thick, brown in front, reddish behind.

Laugerie Basse
No. 1: Fragment of a semi-cylindrical rod, (baguette demi-ronde), decorated with two stylised engravings of birds and arranged symmetrically.

No. 2: Sculpture in the round representing a lizard. This very interesting piece is sculpted in reindeer antler, and it seems not to have been finished, either because the material selected was not sufficient for the complete sculpture, or the artist broke the piece while making it.

Its discovery we thought at first extraordinary, and, if it had not been made ​​in our presence, we would have thought it, at first sight, a hoax. We did not know that in fact, these reptiles can live in a climate as cold as that currently existing in Lapland and that this climate regime applied to this region to the Magdalenian period. Our astonishment was short lived. The 'Larousse pour tous' indicates that the tiny lizard is common in Paris and its range extends even now to Lapland.

Already in 1862, Lartet and Christy had collected at la Madeleine a ciseau (chisel, possibly used to split bone, or used as a scraper - Don ) adorned with a reptile (lizard genus) (Fig 8, No. 7, RA, P IX, No. 4) Plate 1

No 3: Fragment of a spear thrower with hook which together represent the body of a horse. The very well sculpted head is bent down to form a hook, the front legs are elongated along the body, the hair of the flanks is indicated by a series of small zigzag lines.

No 4: Engraving of a reindeer on a rib. Lacking the room, the artist could not represent the forelegs. The animal is gallo g, legs outstretched behind, head up, the antlers stretched along the back of the animal.

No. 5: Bone pendant, very finely ornamented.

No. 6: Fragment of a baguette with horse heads in bas-relief. All these pieces were collected in the second archeological level, except No. 1 which comes from the upper level, and the No. 5 we found under the site of the old furnace/oven and to which we cannot assign an exact place in the coupe.

Simultaneously, while continuing the excavations in this shelter, we undertook further research at the second large shelter, that of 'l'abri Marseilles'

Photo: Maury (1925)



Lizard dordogne



A lizard on a pile of rocks in the Dordogne, quite possibly the same species as in the carving No 2 above.

Photo: Laurine Roussel
Permission: licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.




Boring a tunnel 11 metres long, below the large blocks from the collapse of the front of the shelter, and strengthened by strong concrete pillars, took us to the northern extremity of the excavation, about 4 metres below the upper level.

Laugerie Basse
Il y a environ 10 000 ans, sous l'abri des Marseilles, un premier éboulement, sans doute brutal, a fait tomber une partie de la voûte sur le sol d'habitat préhistorique. Un autre éboulement se produisit il y a 4 000 ans à la fin du Néolithique, et d'autres ensuite, peut-être aux époques historiques. Sur la gauche on aperçoit le débouché du tunnel de 11 mètres de long, creusé sous les blocs éboulés, pour atteindre la zone à fouiller sous l'abri.

Approximately 10 000 years ago, under the shelter of Marseilles, a first fall of rock crashed down on the area occupied in prehistoric times. Another fall occurred 4 000 years ago at the end of the Neolithic era, and others since, perhaps during historical times.

On the left can be seen the entrance of the tunnel which is 11 metres long, dug under the fallen boulders to reach the zone to be excavated under the shelter.


Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)



Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse
The sweet water spring shown further up this page is on the lower level in the background of these photos, a little further along the abri.

The huge rocks shown here detached from the cliff towards the end of the Magdalenian.


Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Laugerie Basse



If there was anyone here at the time, it must have been a terrifying experience. It may well be that some survived to tell the tale, if they were sufficiently close to the back wall of the abri.

Not surprisingly, the Magdalenians abandoned both abris after this event.


Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008






A trench having been extended as far as the cliff, we found the existence of several archaeological levels:

1. A lower Magdalenian layer of reddish colour with traces of hearths between 30 to 40 cm thick.
2. A sterile layer 60 cm thick, formed by the erosion of the vault.
3. A middle Magdalenian layer, the same reddish colour as No. 1, with a thickness of 30 cm.
4. Some slabs of rock fallen from the roof.
5. An upper Magdalenian blackish-brown layer, about 30 cm thick.
6. A bench of thick, unbroken limestone slabs detached from the overhang.
7. A Layer characterised by a greyish ash in great abundance, representing the Neolithic.
8. Finally, a huge mass of rock detached from the cliff. These rocks have been used in part, during the middle ages or earlier, to serve as very primitive housing. At their base, in a clayey and stony layer, we found the presence of remains dating to the Neolithic and Gallo-Roman.

The abri extends over a length of at least 50 metres and its wider portion towards the middle, lies 15 metres below the rock which serves as a ceiling.



An abundant spring, previously covered by debris was found. This discovery is all the more interesting, since it proves to us once more, that our ancestors looked for shelters favoured by water, that they were able to find these without difficulty, and that they had choice even in their dwelling places.

Laugerie Basse Laugerie Basse
This is the spring in l'abri des Marseilles, which runs year round, and would have been a real bonus for the inhabitants. The water is sweet and good. Springs like this are formed when water percolating down through the porous limestone meets an impermeable layer of clay or marl (limestone mixed with clay).

The geology of the whole Vézère area, with horizontal, impermeable clayey (marl) layers below the limestone close to river level, leads to the formation of an abri because of the moisture which aids in the solution of limestone at the base of the cliffs, and promotes frost shattering of the moist limestone surface during cold periods, considerably deepening the abri.

It also provides a living space protected by an overhanging vault which protects from rain and snow but provides light and air, and providentially provides a place for water percolating down from the plateau above to seep out of the cliff in a spring, conveniently just at the base of the abris.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




A considerable number of artefacts has been recovered, and various Magdalenian levels were identified, results which were consistent with the findings in the nearby classic shelter.

It should be noted that during August and September, we had the pleasure of a visit by M. Adrien de Mortillet, Honorary President of the Societe Préhistorique Française, who came at the invitation of M. Le Bel to make some personal searches. This visit allowed M. Mortillet to recognise the importance of this new site.

In his meticulous excavations, he had the good fortune to collect a very interesting piece (a wood carving of a reindeer in the round representing a reindeer head) of surprising reality and executed by an artist of real talent.

This piece, of which we have a cast, comes from the Magdalenian, although at the time of the visit of our illustrious colleague we had not yet ascertained this fact.

Laugerie Basse





Reindeer head found at Laugerie Basse / l'abri des Marseilles

Photo: de Mortillet (1913)


Laugerie Basse





Facsimile of the reindeer head found at Laugerie Basse / l'abri des Marseilles

Photo: http://www.topgeo.com/reindeers_head_5249.html






It should also be noted that we found an iron hook in the deposits, and M. Mortillet identified it as having been dropped by M. Delpeyrat, who died in 1896, in a previous excavation here.

Laugerie Basse





Hook dropped by M. Léonard Delpeyrat at Laugerie Basse.

Photo: de Mortillet (1913)




(The background here is that in 1863 Edouard Lartet, an eminent palaeontologist, arrived in Les Eyzies with his English friend and patron Henry Christie. They had come to visit the so-called 'Richard cave' in Les Eyzies but were taken to other sites of the Vézère valley. Laugerie Basse and its prehistoric remains came up to their expectations.

Also in 1863, Marquis Paul de Vibraye started excavating Laugerie Basse, and was the finder (in 1864) of the now famous 'Venus impudique de Laugerie Basse', the first feminine statuette to be found in France. In 1865, Elie Massénat succeeded the first 3 researchers and launched a 20-year long excavation campaign with Léonard Delpeyrat, an inhabitant of the neighbouring hamlet.  - Don 
)

M. Léonard Delpeyrat was an eccentric troglodyte, yet a patient and insightful excavator, and was well known in the region. Living in a hovel pressed against the rocks of Laugerie Basse, he engaged eagerly in search of antiquities, and we saw his little head with his elongated weasel face, his intelligent eyes , wearing a cotton nightcap, a lamp in hand, crawling through tunnels he dug under his house or nearby.

He seemed to us to possess the striking appearance of a prehistoric man, returned after many thousands of years, scraping the ancestral hearths for booty.

Laugerie Basse





In the following plates, we present some of the very many pieces, found in several excavations, but whose origin is indicated with the description:

1. Bone baguette with beautiful ornamental design very clear and finely engraved.

2. Smoother or polisher in bone, perfectly preserved, with ornamental design at the top, and in the middle an engraved horse head, whose muzzle is curiously adorned with a tuft of hairs.

3. the opposite face of the same smoother showing engraved ornamentation. These two pieces come from the excavation of l'abri des Marseilles and from the second Magdalenian level.

4. Horse head carved in reindeer antler. The artist has cleverly taken advantage of the shape of the antler and brought all his attention to carving the nose. This piece was found in the remains of a layer near the old oven, a layer which had been preserved to this day by a large block of stone that we blew up.

5. Engraving on bones from the second Magdalenian level of the abri des Marseilles excavations and representing a bird of the order of waders.

6. Engraving of a reindeer on a flat limestone pebble from the middle Magdalenian from the excavations called 'de la Grange'. This engraving, with a perfect purity of line, is one of the finest known specimens.

Photo and text: Maury (1925)


Laugerie Basse

1. Needle polisher in granite, with traces of use in forming bone needles on three sides.

2. Carving in bone representing a horse and a reindeer arranged back to back. The poor condition and age of the material was the cause of the disappearance of the heads of the animals. We must remark, however, on the clean lines of the engraving and the masterfully executed hindquarters of the horse.

3 and 4. Specimens of bird bones with many nicks cut in them, probably used for making jewellery: necklaces, bracelets, etc.

5. Fragment of a baguette with engraving forming ornamentation, whose work is very fine and neat.

6. Engraving on a piece of rib showing a hand holding a trident. It would be foolhardy to give a precise explanation of this engraving, but the opposite side represents a pattern of ornamentation of nine wavy lines, similar to designs on the walls of the caves of Altamira, Hornos de Pena and Gargas, as reported by MM. Cartailhac, Breuil and F. Regnault. We believe this piece could have had a mysterious and magical meaning for our ancestors.

7 and 8. Gray flint blades, the edge has been retouched in a sawtooth. These are the only two examples encountered in a considerable amount of flint.

9. A beautiful bone poinçon or punch, decorated with four rows of notches, including two of parallel lines and two other rows forming many V shapes.

Piece No. 1 of this plate was found in the upper Magdalenian layer of l'abri des Marseilles; pieces 2, 5, 7 and 8 from the middle Magdalenian, and piece No. 9 from the lower Magdalenian. Finally pieces 3, 4 and 6 were found in the Magdalenian level known as 'the old oven'.

Photo and text: Maury (1925)


End of Paper




Laugerie Basse formation of abris

Formation of abris. Laugerie Haute and Laugerie Basse were formed with method 1, frost action.

There is a marly, clayey, impermeable to water limestone layer near the river level at these abris, which stops the percolation of water.

When this water seeps out of the porous limestone and freezes on the surface, frost action breaks off small grains or even large slabs of limestone, and the abri deepens over time.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008



Many of the following photos and associated text come from Roussot (2000). My thanks to Anya for this resource.

Laugerie Basse
Vue aérienne de la vallée de la Vézère, de l'amont vers l'aval. Les falaises de Laugerie-Haute et Laugerie-Basse sont tout au fond de la vallée. Au premier plan, le cingle de Marsac décrit une boucle ou méandre de deux kilomètres de développement.

Aerial view of the valley of the Vézère, from upstream towards downstream. The cliffs of Laugerie-Haute and Laugerie-Basse, with L'abri des Marseilles between the two, are all at the bottom of the valley, and may be seen in the background. In the foreground, le cingle de Marsac describes a loop or meander of two kilometres in size.

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)



Laugerie Basse

Vue aérienne de la falaise du Grand Roc et de Laugerie Basse, sur la rive droite de la Vézère, visible en bas de la photographie. L'abri des Marseilles est en contrebas de la fracture de la falaise, sur la droite.

Aerial view of the cliff of the Grand Roc and Laugerie Basse, on the right bank of the Vézère, visible at the bottom of the photograph. The shelter of Marseilles is below the break in the cliff, on the right.

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)



Laugerie Basse

Falaise de Laugerie-Basse entre l'abri classique, au fond, et l'abri des Marseilles, en arrière de la vue. Les rainures horizontales, taillées de main d'homme sur la paroi rocheuse, correspondent à des "larmiers" destinés à empêcher les ruissellements d'eau dans les maisons autrefois adossées à la falaise.

Cliff of Laugerie-Basse between the shelter of Marseilles and the classic abri or shelter of Laugerie-Basse. The horizontal grooves, cut by hand on the rock face, are in the position of former 'drips' and are intended to prevent rainwater trickling down the cliff streaming into the backs of houses formerly leaned against the stone shelter. Presumably lead sheet or something similar was pushed into the grooves, lapping over the roofs of the houses, forming what is called 'flashing'.

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)



Laugerie Basse

La falaise au niveau de l'abri des Marseilles dont le creux est partiellement masqué par un chaos d'énormes blocs éboulés. Ici, la falaise calcaire est fragilisée par des fissures (diaclases). Au sommet, on remarque une visière rocheuse qui s'éboulera un jour à son tour.

The cliff on the level of the shelter of Marseilles of which the hollow is partially masked by a chaos of enormous tumbled down blocks. Here, the calcareous cliff is weakened by cracks. At the top is a rock overhang which will one day also fall down.

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)



Laugerie Basse



Abri des Marseilles à Laugerie-Basse. Coupe perpendiculaire à l'abri, publiée en 1914 par A. de Mortillet.



  1. couche rougeâtre avec vestiges datant de l'âge du fer aux temps modernes ;
  2. couche de cendres et de charbons avec industrie néolithique ;
  3. couche brunâtre avec industrie magdalénienne ;
  4. banc de grosses et épaisses dalles calcaires effondrées ;
  5. couche formée de plusieurs niveaux, franchement magdalénienne ;
  6. couche de blocs calcaires de toutes dimensions ;
  7. couche magdalénienne avec gravures et sculptures ;
  8. brèche stérile.


Shelter of Marseilles at Laugerie-Basse. A cross section perpendicular to the shelter, published in 1914 by A. de Mortillet:
  1. reddish layer with vestiges dating from the iron age to modern times;
  2. layer of ashes and coals with Neolithic artefacts;
  3. brownish layer with magdalenian artefacts.
  4. layer of grasses and thick broken up limestone flagstones;
  5. layer formed of several levels, clearly magdalenian;
  6. layer of limestone blocks of all sizes;
  7. Magdalenian layer with engravings and sculptures;
  8. sterile base.

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)

Laugerie Basse



Les rochers détachés de la falaise au niveau de l'abri des Marseilles ont déboulé jusque dans la Vézère.

Some of the rocks which have dropped from the cliff above the shelter of Marseilles have crashed to the ground and then rolled as far as the Vézère river itself, as can be seen in this photograph.

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)



Laugerie Basse

Photographie datant probablement de la fin du siècle dernier, prise entre l'abri classique et l'abri des Marseilles, près d'un ancien four. On y voit de quelle manière anarchique travaillaient les fouilleurs, creusant des trous et des galeries à la recherche des objets.

A photograph probably dating from the end of the 19th century, taken between Laugerie Basse and the shelter of Marseilles, close to an old furnace. This photo shows how anarchistically the diggers worked, digging holes and galleries to find out about the area, without modern disciplines for such research.

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)



Laugerie Basse



La coupe stratigraphique sous l'abri des Marseilles.

This excellent photograph and text details the ages of the various layers in the stratigraphic cut under l'abri des Marseilles.

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)



Marseille coupe

Schematic coupe of the gisement under the abri des Marseilles at Laugerie-Basse, by S. Blanc, using data provided by J. Maury.

Photo: Raoul (1972)



Laugerie Basse



Détail de la coupe stratigraphique sous l'abri des Marseilles. On note la présence de galets de rivière rapportés sous l'abri. De minces niveaux noirs correspondent à des foyers.

Detail of the stratigraphic cut under the shelter of Marseilles. Notable is the presence of river stones under the shelter. Several black layers or lenses seen here correspond to hearths.

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)



Laugerie Basse

Coquillages perforés, probables éléments de parure. Le premier en haut à gauche est une Purpura lapillus (pourpre petite pierre), les autres sont des Littorina littorea (littorines ou bigorneaux). Ces deux espèces sont d'époque quaternaire et proviennent du littoral atlantique. Musée d'Aquitaine.

Perforated shells, probably used as ornament. The first at top left is a Purpura lapillus, the others are Littorina littorea (winkles). These two species are from the Quaternary and come from the Atlantic littoral, that is, the edge of the sea. Musée d'Aquitaine.

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)



marseilles





Poinçons en os et silex taillés du Néolithique final. La pointe foliacée, en bas, provient de la couche cendreuse (couche 7) de l'abri des Marseilles - Dessins de J. Roussot-Larroque).

Bone awl and flints of the final Neolithic era. The foliaceous point, below, comes from the ashy layer (layer 7) of l'abri des Marseilles - Dessins de J. Roussot-Larroque).

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)



marseilles


Poignard en silex trouvé sur la terrasse de l'abri classique. Ce type de poignard est caractéristique de la culture néolithique d'Artenac (vers 3.000 ans avant notre ère). Longueur 119 mm. Coll. G. Lagorce.

Flint dagger found on the terrace of the traditional shelter. This type of dagger is characteristic of the Neolithic culture of Artenac (around 3 000 years BP). Length 119 mm.

It comes from the brittle layer (layer 7) of l'abri des Marseilles

Coll. G Lagorce.

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)



marseilles



Longue côte animale décorée d'une vigoureuse gravure de bison dont la tête barbue est d'un style saisissant et dont la ligne dorsale, peu réaliste, ondule le long de l'os. Une autre tête de bison, sans barbe, est gravée sur l'autre face. Il peut s'agir d'un mâle et d'une femelle. Longueur 250 mm. Coll. P. de Vibraye. musée de l'homme.

Long animal bone decorated with a vigorous engraving of a bison whose bearded head is of a gripping style and whose not very realistic dorsal line undulates along the bone. Another bison head, without a beard, is engraved on the other face. The engravings may be of a male and a female. Length 250 mm. Coll. P. de Vibraye. Musée de l'homme.

Photo and French text: Roussot (2000)







References

  1. Bordes F., Deffarges, R., de Sonneville-Bordes D., 1973: Les pointes de Laugerie-Basse dans le gisement du Morin. Essai de définition.Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, Comptes rendus des séances mensuelles. 1973, tome 70, N. 5. pp. 145-151.
  2. Bourlon, M., 1916, Nouvelles Découvertes a Laugerie BasseL'Anthropologie, T. XXVII, 1916
  3. Crémades, M., Laville H., 1995, Le félin gravé de Laugerie-Basse: à propos du mouvement dans l'art paléolithique. PaléoNo. 7, 1995. pp. 259-265.
  4. Marshack, A., 1972: The Roots of Civilization: the Cognitive Beginning of Man’s First Art, Symbol and Notation New York, McGraw-Hill
  5. Massenat, E., 1869, Objets gravés et sculptés de l'Augerie-Basse (Dordogne). In Matériaux pour l'histoire primitive et naturelle de l'homme
  6. Maury J., 1925: Laugerie basse. Les Fouilles de M. J.-A. Le Bel, Publisher Impr. Monnoyer, 12, place des Jacobins, 1925 Length 24 pages
  7. Maury J., 1914a: Fouilles à Laugerie-Basse Bulletin de la Société préhistorique de France, 1914, tome 11, N. 1. pp. 50-56.
  8. Maury J., 1914b: Fouilles de M. A. Le Bel, à Laugerie-Basse Bulletin de la Société préhistorique de France, 1914, tome 11, N. 5. pp. 291-297.
  9. Mayet, L., Pissot J., 1915, Abri-Sous-Roche Prehistorique de La Colombiere pres Poncin (Ain) Lyon, A. Rey
  10. Peyrony, 1922, Les Eyzies et les Environs, Ussel, Eyboulet et fils
  11. de Mortillet A., 1913: Fouilles de Laugerie-Basse (Dordogne) Bulletin de la Société préhistorique de France, 1913, tome 10, N. 10. pp. 571-574.
  12. Raoul D., 1972: Note sur l'outillage lithique magdalénien du grand abri des Marseilles, à Laugerie-Basse, Les Eyzies (Dordogne) [Fouilles A. de Mortillet, 1913], Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, Comptes rendus des séances mensuelles. 1972, tome 69, N. 3. pp. 73-79.
  13. Roussot A., 2000: Visiter les Abris de Laugerie-Basse, Editions Sud-Ouest..





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