The Logan Museum of Anthropology at Beloit College possesses perhaps the finest collection of French Paleolithic Art outside France. But although these artifacts are gathered together in a separate storage area named "Paleolithic Collections", these are neither completely French nor entirely Paleolithic.
Indeed, a large part of the Paleolithic collections derives from France, and in particular, the so-called "Cradle of Prehistory", the Dordogne. There are, however, a great many artifacts from other areas of France, Great Britain, North Africa, South Africa, and even the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Furthermore, there is an extensive assortment of artifacts from the European Bronze and Iron Ages.
Many of these were obtained through Logan Museum excavations at individual sites such as the Abri Blanchard and Abri Cellier in the Dordogne, Mechta El Arbi in Algeria and the 1928 Expedition to the Gobi. Some of these have been published, but many remain unillustrated, unpublished and unseen.
It was with all this in mind, and my own personal fascination with the prehistoric, that this exhibition was developed. After sifting through the thousands of little flakes of stone, many of which might arouse the interest of a trained archaeologist but had little meaning for me, it became evident even to me that there was a fairly thorough cross-section of prehistory to be found here. Having spent a great deal of time in the Dordogne, and having a more than passing familiarity with the type sites of French Paleolithic cultures, I determined to expand my expertise in this area.
Most of the artifacts in the collections seemed to be adequately identified, for others I have relied on research and comparison. Should you take issue with any of the information contained within this exhibition, please let us know.
- Dr. Christopher Henige, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point