At 08:30 am we met our group of students – all had found their way to the meeting point. And, surprise, surprise, the number of students from Lund was 19 and not 29, as Per had told me yesterday. I wonder who of us two is the mathematical genius! Now I do not need to change my arrangements, but have everything under control.
Our first visit this morning was the small market, which is always held on Monday mornings. Local farmers sell fresh bread, vegetables, cheese, sausages, goose and duck liver, walnut oil, and many other delicacies. After a walk along the market, one does not need any lunch. In one place we tried different cheeses, in another the fresh strawberries, yet in another the sausages, then the goose and duck liver! I bought sweet tasting strawberries.
But – our objective for this first day was not the market, but Abri Cro Magnon, the Musée de la Préhistoire, la Gorge d’Enfer and Abri Pataud. It was in Abri Cro Magnon where the first finds of Homo sapiens (Cro Magnon) together with Aurignacien tools were found in the year 1868. This was more or less the starting point for archaeology in and around Les Eyzies, although Edouard Lartet and Henry Christy had already been digging in a nearby abri in the year 1863.
The new and beautiful museum at Les Eyzies, which opened in 2004 contains detailed information on the archaeology in and around Les Eyzies, explains the different stone tool technologies, the stratigraphies and how people lived during different archaeological time interval, among many other things. The museum and the exhibition are really well made, but a drawback is that all information is in French. Our students had their guided visit this morning, with explanations by the two guides Megan and Florence.
After a long lunch we set off to explore the Gorge d’Enfer, where several large abris are set along the lush valley. This is an excellent place to explain how abris have formed and how caves formed, how digging was done 100-150 years ago, and how important it is to conserve all these fantastic archaeological sites. Last on the program was Abri Pataud, where Hallam Movius made modern excavations between 1954 and 1966. His stratigraphic coordination system (X, Y, Z) is still visible and is still used during excavations now. The stratigraphies in Abri Pataud are well preserved and contain finds dating from the Aurignacien to the Solutrean.
With all these new impressions, the new terminologies and the wealth of information that our students have received on this first day, it is no wonder that they now long for a quiet and nice dinner in one of the many restaurants in Les Eyzies.