Context and dating of Aurignacian vulvar representations from Abri Castanet, France

Edited by Harold L. Dibble, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, and accepted by the Editorial Board April 10, 2012 (received for review December 1, 2011)
May 14, 2012
109 (22) 8450-8455

Abstract

We report here on the 2007 discovery, in perfect archaeological context, of part of the engraved and ocre-stained undersurface of the collapsed rockshelter ceiling from Abri Castanet, Dordogne, France. The decorated surface of the 1.5-t roof-collapse block was in direct contact with the exposed archaeological surface onto which it fell. Because there was no sedimentation between the engraved surface and the archaeological layer upon which it collapsed, it is clear that the Early Aurignacian occupants of the shelter were the authors of the ceiling imagery. This discovery contributes an important dimension to our understanding of the earliest graphic representation in southwestern France, almost all of which was discovered before modern methods of archaeological excavation and analysis. Comparison of the dates for the Castanet ceiling and those directly obtained from the Chauvet paintings reveal that the “vulvar” representations from southwestern France are as old or older than the very different wall images from Chauvet.

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Data Availability

Data deposition: All annual reports from excavation, including original datasets, have been deposited with the Services Régionaux de l’Archéologie in Bordeaux and all collections from the Castanet excavations are deposited in the Musée National de Préhistoire in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, France.

Acknowledgments

We thank the Castanet and Castanet-Daumas families, Hélène Talenton, Dany Barraud, and Nathalie Fourment for their aid. The research described here has been supported since 1994 by generous grants from the US National Science Foundation, the Direction Régional des Affaires Culturelles d’Aquitaine, the L. S. B. Leakey Foundation, the Reed Foundation, the Rock Foundation, the Fine Foundation, Unité Mixte Internationale 3199, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, the Institute for Ice Age Studies, the Theodore Dubin Foundation, the Service Archéologique Départemental de la Dordogne, New York University, the Fyssen Foundation, the Partner University Fund, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation.

Supporting Information

Supporting Information (PDF)
Supporting Information

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Information & Authors

Information

Published in

Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Vol. 109 | No. 22
May 29, 2012
PubMed: 22586111

Classifications

Data Availability

Data deposition: All annual reports from excavation, including original datasets, have been deposited with the Services Régionaux de l’Archéologie in Bordeaux and all collections from the Castanet excavations are deposited in the Musée National de Préhistoire in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, France.

Submission history

Published online: May 14, 2012
Published in issue: May 29, 2012

Keywords

  1. Paleolithic art
  2. Vézère Valley
  3. vulva
  4. rock engravings

Acknowledgments

We thank the Castanet and Castanet-Daumas families, Hélène Talenton, Dany Barraud, and Nathalie Fourment for their aid. The research described here has been supported since 1994 by generous grants from the US National Science Foundation, the Direction Régional des Affaires Culturelles d’Aquitaine, the L. S. B. Leakey Foundation, the Reed Foundation, the Rock Foundation, the Fine Foundation, Unité Mixte Internationale 3199, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, the Institute for Ice Age Studies, the Theodore Dubin Foundation, the Service Archéologique Départemental de la Dordogne, New York University, the Fyssen Foundation, the Partner University Fund, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation.

Notes

This article is a PNAS Direct Submission. H.L.D. is a guest editor invited by the Editorial Board.

Authors

Affiliations

Randall White1 [email protected]
Center for the Study of Human Origins, Department of Anthropology, New York University, New York, NY 10003;
Romain Mensan
Laboratoire Travaux et Recherches Archéologiques sur les Cultures, les Espaces, et les Sociétés, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5608, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université de Toulouse-le-Mirail, F-31058 Toulouse Cedex 9, France;
Raphaëlle Bourrillon
Laboratoire Travaux et Recherches Archéologiques sur les Cultures, les Espaces, et les Sociétés, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5608, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université de Toulouse-le-Mirail, F-31058 Toulouse Cedex 9, France;
Catherine Cretin
Centre National de Préhistoire, Direction de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, 24000 Périgueux, France;
Thomas F. G. Higham
Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, United Kingdom;
Amy E. Clark
School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721;
Matthew L. Sisk
Department of Anthropology, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY 11530;
Elise Tartar
Laboratoire d'Ethnologie Préhistorique, Unité Mixte de Recherche 7041, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, 75015 Paris, France;
Philippe Gardère
Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives, 37000 Tours, France;
Paul Goldberg
Department of Archeology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215;
Jacques Pelegrin
Laboratoire de Préhistoire et Technologie, Unité Mixte de Recherche 7055, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Maison René-Ginouvès, Université de Paris X - Nanterre, F-92023 Nanterre Cedex, France;
Hélène Valladas
Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, Unité Mixte de Recherche 8212, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives/l’Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin, l’Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France;
Nadine Tisnérat-Laborde
Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, Unité Mixte de Recherche 8212, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives/l’Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin, l’Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France;
Jacques de Sanoit
Laboratoire d’Intégration des Systèmes et des Technologies, Centre d’Energie Nucléaire, Centre de Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France; and
Dominique Chambellan
Laboratoire d’Intégration des Systèmes et des Technologies, Centre d’Energie Nucléaire, Centre de Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France; and
Laurent Chiotti
Département de Préhistoire du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Unité Mixte de Recherche 7194, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Musée de l’Abri Pataud, 24620 Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, France

Notes

1
To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: [email protected].
Author contributions: R.W., R.M., R.B., and J.P. designed research; R.W., R.M., R.B., C.C., T.F.G.H., A.E.C., M.L.S., E.T., P. Gardère, P. Goldberg, J.P., H.V., N.T.-L., J.d.S., D.C., and L.C. performed research; M.L.S. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; R.W., R.M., R.B., C.C., T.F.G.H., A.E.C., M.L.S., E.T., P. Gardère, P. Goldberg, J.P., H.V., N.T.-L., J.d.S., D.C., and L.C. analyzed data; and R.W. and R.B. wrote the paper.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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    Context and dating of Aurignacian vulvar representations from Abri Castanet, France
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    • Vol. 109
    • No. 22
    • pp. 8355-8786

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