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Museum Mondays: Getting to the point at the Logan Museum

December 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Last week, the Logan Museum of Anthropology hosted visiting researcher Luc Doyon, a graduate student at the Université de Montréal in Canada. The latest in a string of scholars interested in the Logan’s Paleolithic collections, Luc spent four days on campus analyzing and recording information on ancient tools made of reindeer antler.

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Anthropology major Matt Schlicksup’13 (left) learns about the stages of antler projectile point manufacture from visiting researcher Luc Doyon.

Luc focused on artifacts that were excavated in 1927 by professor and Logan curator George L. Collie’1881 and his student, Paul Nesbitt’26. Their dig site, called Abri Cellier, is located in the picturesque Dordogne valley of southwestern France. Abri Cellier is an important Paleolithic site and its collections are significant because they are well preserved and documented. Here’s what Doyon says about his research:

“I am interested in the migration of the first population of Homo sapiens in Europe, known as the makers of the ‘Aurignacian’ material culture, some 30,000 years ago. I specialize in the study of their technology made of antler, mainly projectile points used for hunting activities. My goal in analyzing the collection from Abri Cellier was to compare the archaeological data with the results from an experiment I conducted in August 2012 to see if the techniques I used to produce projectile points out of antler were in line with those used in the Aurignacian.

“Surprisingly, considering the excavation methods where the focus was mainly directed toward lithic (stone) technology, I was able to find solid evidence suggesting that the Abri Cellier was a site used for the production of antler projectile points. I also was able to reconstruct the whole operation sequence used in this technology by analyzing the different artifact types and the traces left by their makers.”

Doyon’s will use his findings in his master's thesis as well as for a conference on experimental archaeology to be held at Cardiff University in 2013.

Doyon’s work follows up on recent research visits to the Logan’s European and North African archaeological collections by scholars from Algeria, Italy, and the U.K., as well from American universities. For example: http://www.beloit.edu/campus/news/?story_id=316793. These visitors interact with our students, enriching student perspectives on anthropology, collections, and the research process in general, while generating important new knowledge about the human past.