Tuesday, August 5, 2014

St. Germain-en-Laye: le musee d'Archeologie nationale, 1

We first visited the National Museum of Archaeology in 1989. France has many archaeological museums, dispersed throughout the country and generally associated with specific sites, standing stones, dolmens, caves and their art, and so on. There are many such sites in the UK, and Ireland, excellent ones, and some also in Spain and Portugal. But it is difficult to imagine a place with a greater concentration and diversity of paleolithic and neolithic sites than France. The National Museum at St. Germain-en-Laye is a kind of national compendium, covering the paleolithic up to Gaul and the Romans. It is has one surpassing treasure, IMHO, and we'll get to that below.
Older paleolithic tools and a couple of Neantherthal skulls

Figurines...30,000 year old artifacts...

Female figurines...obviously influenced by

And the surpassing treasure...the Dame a la capuche...carved
from mammoth  ivory, found in the Grotto de Pape a
Brassempouy; Gravettian, about 25,000 years old, give or
take...the Mona Lisa of the paleolithic, one might say,
although I think that gives way too much credit to the

Another view

Closer up artsy view (from a poster at the

More fine carving


Ditto again

And again

And a large relief, similar to many we have seen in the south
west of France

And now, presto, fast-forward a dozen millennia or so, and
we are in the neolithic period, looking at beautiful ceremonial
hand axes, of jade, from Brittany; I still hope to find one on
Carnac plage...

Jade bracelets and necklaces

Neolithic pottery

And carved standing stone, also from Brittany

And now, shazzam! we are in the iron age, Gauls and Celts
and such

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