Director of Cultural Affairs – DRAC Midi-Pyrénées

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The scientific interest and the challenges were great: to bring together, for the time of a conference, the Pleistocene art specialists of the world so that they could review and assess our current knowledge of the art of our origins.

All of the participants in this manifestation, exceptional in both its subject matter and the geographic area covered – nothing less than the entire planet! – can testify to the excellent quality of the presentations and the debates that followed.

We thus applaud all of the contributors to this scientific and human adventure, beginning with the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO) whose initiative it was to hold this Congress, and its “bandleader” Jean Clottes; as well as the General Council of the Ariège Department, who oversaw the mechanics of the project, and the Parc de la Préhistoire of Tarascon-sur-Ariège, which served as its linchpin.

The Ministry of Culture and Communication must also be congratulated for the quality of this event held in France, and its great contribution to the diffusion of archaeological research and knowledge of the rich and fragile heritage of prehistoric art.

It is certainly not by accident that the Congress was held in the Midi-Pyrénées region, and more specifically in the Ariège Department: the abundance of prehistoric art in the Pyrenees is no small justification and the Parc de Tarascon offered an ideal showcase! Nor is it trivial to remark that the legitimacy of this location is historic: since the recognition of the ancient age of “cave art” by Émile Cartailhac in 1902, research in this field has unceasingly continued in Midi-Pyrénées.

And while we are at it, how could we not acknowledge the major role played by the director of the present publication, Jean Clottes, tireless pursuer of new research directions, promoter of the discipline in France and the world, and ardent defender of this fragile heritage. The Ministry of Culture is honored to have counted him among their ranks of researchers, after which he became Director of Prehistoric Antiquities for the Midi-Pyrénées region before fulfilling his mission as an Inspector for the central services.

Finally, we can salute the record time in which the Proceedings of this congress have been published – less than two years since the event – and wager that this publication will mark a milestone in the history of the discipline!