Yesterday I bought the book L’affaire de l’Abri du Poisson by Randall White. It is a translation from English to French, and sure I would have preferred to have the English edition, because my French is no longer good enough to really understand everything. The passé simple gives me minor headaches, and several of the words are just out of reach for my brain at the moment. But still I do get the major issues.
The story of Abri du Poisson, as much as that of many other archaeological sites here around Les Eyzies and in the Vézère Valley, is colored by politics, nationalistic feelings, interpersonal relationships, human chemistry, power struggles, poverty, money, and so much more. The book by Randall White thus gives an interesting account on how parts of Europe looked like some 100 years ago. One hundred years is not a long time span, especially not when compared to the times of the Neanderthals, or any other prehistoric humans, but looking back to 100 years ago, it feels as if we are now living in a completely different world, at least in Europe! And I am happy and thankful for that!
Today we visited Abri du Poisson and Florence Landais, our guide since many years, gave us a very nice overview on the story of the discovery of the abri, and how the salmon finally became protected. The coarse hammer marks around the sculpture really give a feeling of last minute rescue! Luckily the salmon is still there on the roof of the abri and has not disappeared to one of the museums in Europe or the USA, and we are now able to look at it and to admire the beautiful sculpture in its right place.
As always, the last day of our excursion ended with an inspiring lecture by Francesco d’Errico from Bordeaux University. We usually organize Francesco’s talk at the Auditorium of the Musée National de Préhistoire at Les Eyzies. Access to the auditorium is kindly provided by the director of the museum, M. Cleye-Merle, and his staff are most helpful in all respect.
I would like to end this first excursion with loads of thanks to all the kind and friendly people in and around Les Eyzies, who made our visit this week so wonderful. Special thanks go of course to the Auberge du Musée, our Hotspot! Without internet access here, and some good beers, we would feel completely disconnected from the world.