Institute of Archaeology

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IoA Rock Art Fieldtrip - Dordogne 2013

23 May 2013

In front of the heavy bronze door of the famous Lascaux cave

A group of Institute students has recently returned from the Dordogne where they gained unprecedented access to Palaeolithic decorated cave sites.

Didier Bouakaze-Khan organised a Rock Art field trip to Dordogne for the second consecutive year in conjunction with his Masters courses on World Rock Art: from Palaeolithic to Present and Rock Art Studies: Theories, Methods and Management.

The group, lead by Didier, was accompanied by the Institute's Director, Stephen Shennan and three students taking the MA course on Rock Art Studies, Ethan White, Kate Sinha and Ginger Drage.

Maria Guagnin (Edinburgh University), who also teaches Saharan Rock Art on Didier’s course, accompanied the group as well as Peter Robinson (Bradshaw Foundation).  The group was hosted by Prof Jean-Michel Geneste and his team at the Centre National de Prehistoire in Les Eyzies de Tayac, from 12-19 May.

A total of 13 Upper-Palaeolithic decorated caves were visited, such as Combarelles, Rouffignac, Pech-Merle and Cougnac. As last year the group enjoyed access to caves not open to the public: there they were able to see exceptional Gravettian engravings of mammoth and bison, dated to about 25.000 BC.

The group also visited the facsimile copy of Lascaux Cave and were granted access to the much protected control room of the ‘real’ Lascaux Cave: this was a very useful insight on the measures in place to conserve and monitor one of the two most treasured Upper-Palaeolithic cave in the world (the other one is Chauvet Cave in Ardeche).

The site visits were followed by a two-day seminar organised at the National Museum of Prehistory, during which Stephen was able to introduce the growing interest in Rock Art studies and research at the Institute of Archaeology while two of the students presented their research which was very well received:

  • Kate Sinha Colonial Rock Art of South Africa
  • Ethan White Cornish Rock Art

Maria presented her state-of-the-art work in the Sahara and Peter explained the work of the Bradshaw Foundation and his wish to develop further his cooperation with the Institute of Archaeology on Rock Art Studies. Finally Didier presented his research in the Horn of Africa and delivered a keynote presentation on Southern Africa Rock Art.

The cave visits and discussions with rock art specialists provided a very informative learning experience for the students, whetting their appetite for further Rock Art research while also contributing to the acquisition of new skill sets and knowledge.


View an image slideshow of the fieldtrip:

  • Entrance to La Calevie Cave, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, Dordogne
  • Ethan White delivering his presentation on Cornish Rock Art, during the Rock Art seminar at MNP
  • In front of the heavy bronze door at Lascaux cave
  • Head lamps on in Roc de Vezac cave