Category Archives: 2013 # 5


Introduction to a congress that marks a milestone


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When Robert Bednarik, following the suggestion of Giriraj Kumar, asked me to organize the 2010 IFRAO congress on Pleistocene Art of the World, I was divided by two sentiments: my enthusiasm for the subject and my apprehension of the difficulty and enormity of the task. It had to take place in Europe, where Pleistocene art is best known and most spectacular. It could very well have been in Spain, and I admit that I hesitated. Pascal Alard, in charge in the Ariège (and elsewhere…) of all that has to do with Prehistory, convinced me. He assured me that we would have the total support of his team at the Parc de la Préhistoire and that of the Ariège Department, and he was right. This aid was decisive. In early September 2010, it made possible the organization and running of the Congress, its success, with nearly 400 participants, and now, the indispensable publication of its Proceedings.

We proposed nine symposia one for each continent, plus four more on specific topics. The number of presentations (around 180) required us to organize four parallel sessions in nearby, but distinct, locations. To enable participants to pass from one to another, we had to rigorously respect the planned time frame. The presidents of the symposiums ensured this. The quality of the Parc itself (and that of the meals served…), its splendid environment, the excursions, and the final evening gala, were all a source of vivid and emotional memories for the participants,
as I have been told by many.

Finally, we received 142 publishable papers, after the presidents of the symposiums exercised their right to accept or refuse articles. The official languages of the Congress were French, English and Spanish, and the articles in this volume will be published in these three languages. Though it is perfectly legitimate, I cannot help but regret that a few French colleagues chose to publish their contribution in English. To continue in the chapter of regrets, I am also disappointed that certain participants, after having presented their work at the congress, chose not to publish in the Proceedings, preferring a more prestigious journal. In my opinion, one must choose: barring extenuating circumstances, participation in a congress should be considered as a moral commitment, rather than as a periodic means to boost a career.

The abundance of articles (and costs) prohibited their full publication in printed form. The compromise we found was to allocate two printed pages for a summary of each study, along with one illustration, and to publish the full articles, whatever their length and number of illustrations, on a CD-rom included with the printed version. The page numbering permits these articles to be cited in bibliographies. This was not as easy as it may sound, since some authors sent summaries of only a few lines, while others, more numerous, sent texts that were too long and illustrations that were impossible to fit into the allotted space. We had to negotiate and suggest reductions. To gain space, the bibliographic references, author affiliations, and even the keywords, are found only with the full articles and not with the printed summaries.

From a scientific perspective, this volume marks a milestone. As we might have expected, European Paleolithic art, portable and parietal, occupies a lot of space, with new results and syntheses of very diverse forms of this art. Africa is less well represented than we had hoped, despite the interest of recent discoveries in Upper Egypt. The three other continents made many rich contributions that provide a welcome overview of what we know of the earliest periods and especially of the uncertainties and gaps in our knowledge. We can wager that in the coming years these gaps will be filled and the recognition of Pleistocene sites will be multiplied on the four continents where they are still underrepresented.

In closing, I express my sincere gratitude to those who contributed to the success of this Congress and to the publication of its Proceedings. First, to my dear IFRAO colleages, and foremost among them, Robert Bednarik and the other presidents of the symposiums: Aline Averbouh, Enrico Comba, Valérie Feruglio, Dirk Huyge, Yann-Pierre Montelle, Giriraj Kumar, María Mercedes Podestá, André Prous, Dario Seglie and Alice Tratebas.

Without the efficient work of Pascal Alard and his team from the Parc de la Préhistoire, none of this would have been possible. Jacques Azéma, Emmanuel Demoulin, Cécile Sarrail, Myriam Cuennet, Audrey Laffont, Jean-Marie Dumora and a young intern, Nathalie Bordenave, accomplished a remarkable task. My secretary, Anne Cier, continually offered her precious aid for both the preparation and running of the conference, as well as the publication of the Proceedings.

We received full support and encouragement from the Ariège Department and its president Augustin Bonrepaux. The Ministry of Culture and Communication provided us with financial and moral support. Marc Drouet, in charge of Archaeology at the Ministry of Culture, honored us with his presence at the opening of the Congress, accompanied by Michel Vaginay, Regional Curator of Archaeology, alongside the Ariège Prefect, Jacques Billiant, who was particularly interested in our work.


Editorial – P@lethnology

The P@lethnology editorial committee

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The editorial committee of P@lethnology is pleased to devote Number 5 to the publication of the proceedings of the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO) congress entitled Pleistocene Art of the World. This prestigious event, held under the scientific direction of Jean Clottes from Septemter 6-11, 2010 in Tarascon-sur-Ariège (France), brought together the most esteemed Paleolithic Art specialists in the world.

A first paper edition of the proceedings was published in 2012 with support from the General Council of Ariège, the Société Préhistorique Ariège-Pyrénées and the DRAC Midi-Pyrenées: Clottes J. (dir.) 2012 –/ Pleistocene art of the world / Arte pleistoceno en el mundo, Actes du Congrès IFRAO, Tarascon-sur-Ariège, septembre 2010. N° spécial de Préhistoire, Art et Sociétés, Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Ariège-Pyrénées, LXV-LXVI, 2010-2011, 1985 p.

This volume consists of the paper publication of 142 short articles written in the three official languages of the congress (French, English and Spanish) and a CD containing the full versions of these articles. The large number of contributions prevented their complete publication in paper form.

With the aim of making this review of prehistoric art available to the greatest number, P@lethnology presents Pleistocene Art of the World in a new publication media. To realize this digital publication, P@lethnology worked in partnership with the DRAC Midi-Pyrénées and the Société Préhistorique Ariège-Pyrénées. The choice was made to publish the short versions of the articles in the two languages of the Review (French and English), and to make the full contents of the CD available on-line. A hypertext link, present at the beginning of each contribution, provides easy access to the full article from the short article. P@lethnology thus enables the full publication of the texts of the congress regardless of their length and number of illustrations. Thanks to this exhaustive on-line presentation, prehistoric art is documented with an abundant iconography that reflects its richness and diversity.

With great enthusiasm for this opportunity to contribute to the diffusion of prehistoric art through this digital publication, which will undoubtedly become a reference, we would like to than the scientific director of the congress and the publication, Jean Clotte, for his confidence and his efficient review of the articles.




President of the General Council of Ariège

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The Parc de la Préhistoire in Tarascon-sur-Ariège had the immense honor of hosting, on September 6-11, 2010, the biennial congress of the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO), with support from the General Council of Ariège.

Presided by Jean CLOTTES since 1988, the Federation includes site owners, university and avocational scholars and scientists interested in the study, conservation and development of rock art sites.

Many of them met in Ariège, at the invitation of Jean Clottes, to address the topic of Pleistocene Art of the World.

During this fruitful week, conferences, round tables, discussions and presentations succeeded each other in the gentle ambiance of a late Ariège summer, which was in sharp contrast to the vivacious rhythm of the debates.

The conviviality and joy of reuniting with colleagues and friends from all continents went hand in hand with the richness of the interventions, the quality of the discussions and the confrontation of different points of view.

The visits to our sites, the cultural and artistic manifestations in the evening and the quality of the gastronomy also played a part in the national and international resonance of this event, as intended by the Ariège Department, following the lead of the centennial of the authentication of the parietal paintings in the caves of Niaux and Bédeilhac.

The success of a manifestation of such amplitude of course required a strict and efficient organizational team, among whom I first applaud Jean Clottes, the great prehistorian from Ariège, whose capacities in this domain are no less impressive than his accomplishments as a researcher and discoverer.

To him, his entire team, and all those who invested their time and energy to ensure the success of this congress and the comfort of the participants, I address my most sincere and warm congratulations, as well as to our partners from the DRAC.

The Proceedings that you will discover in this superb tri-lingual volume, and the accompanying CD-rom, faithfully reproduce the articles and presentations of the congress thanks to the efficacy and savoir-faire of the Société Préhistorique Ariège-Pyrénées.

In this volume, all will be reminded of the quality of the discussions, and the diversity of opinions and perspectives expressed throughout each day of this week in September.

Loyal to its cultural tradition, the General Council is happy and proud to have contributed to the organization of this conference and the publication of its Proceedings.

I wish to all a fruitful reading of this volume and address my sincere wishes for the success of the next IFRAO congress in Bolivia.


Cover 2013





Symposium 1

Pleistocene art in Europe

Symposium 2

Pleistocene art in Africa

Symposium 3

Pleistocene art of the Americas

Symposium 4

Pleistocene art in Asia

Symposium 5

Pleistocene art in Australia

Symposium 6

Dating and taphonomy of Pleistocene palaeoart

Symposium 7

Application of forensic techniques to Pleistocene palaeoart Investigations

Symposium 8

Pleistocene portable art

Symposium 9

Signs, symbols, myth, ideology…