European Prehistoric Cultures

The following list includes all of the major periods represented in the Logan Museum Collections and this exhibition.

Lower Paleolithic Europe
Middle Paleolithic France
Upper Paleolithic France
Mesolithic France
Neolithic Europe
Bronze Age Europe
Iron Age Europe

Lower Paleolithic Europe: 450,000 to 100,000 years ago

450,000 - 100,000 BCE
This was the period of Homo sapiens in Europe, an archaic type probably derived from Homo erectus of Africa. By around 200,000 years ago, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis had emerged. During the period people had begun to come together into bands of hunters, as evidenced by the camps typical of the later part of the period. Tools, however, did not advance significantly. They were made locally, as need required, and apparently rarely traveled with their makers. Hand-axes were most prevalent, followed by other tools necessary to prepare carcasses, such as scrapers and blades.

La Micoque, Les Eyzies, Dordogne
Located about 500 meters from Laugerie-Haute, and named for the farm upon which the site lies, La Micoque was first excavated late in the 19th century. Deposits are 6 meters thick and have yielded assemblages from six separate industries. Because the roof of the shelter has eroded away, the flints have developed a white, chalky patina caused by the percolation of rain water through the strata. As a whole, the site appears to have been primarily Acheulian, with occasional hints of the Mousterian in the upper layers. It therefore seems to have been occupied from about 200,000 to 100,000 BCE.

Clacton Gravels, Swanscombe, South Newington Commons, Warren Hill, East Anglia
A number of British sites, mostly located in the southeastern part of the country, yielded evidence from this period. Numerous hunting camps have been discovered.

Middle Paleolithic France: 100,000 to 40,000 years ago

100,000 - 35,000 BCE
The Mousterian is generally associated with the Neanderthals. Hand-axes continue to be common, but are more finely worked. Scrapers, blades and other tools also show far better craftsmanship. 

Le Moustier, Dordogne
The Abri du Moustier yielded numerous flints and a single skeleton. The objects in the Logan Collections were apparently obtained through purchase. Le Moustier lies about 10 kilometers northeast of Les eyzies along the Vézère River. The type site for the Mousterian period, it consists of two shelters, of which the lower is the more important. The site dates as early as the Middle Paleolithic, but the majority of the levels indicate Mousterian inhabitation. The most characteristic lithics are cordate hand-axes. The site dates from about 100,000 to 30,000 BCE. 

Bergerac, Dordogne
The town of Bergerac is about 50 kilometers west of Les Eyzies, along the Dordogne River. Although the exact origins of our artifacts is unknown, the prehistoric sites of Corbiac, Pécharmant and Toutiffaut attest to human occupation in the area in prehistoric times. 

Combe-Capelle, Montferrand, Dordogne
Combe-Capelle consists of two sites. The first, the Roc au Combe-Capelle, appears to have been occupied continuously from the Périgordian period, about 35,000-20,000 BCE, through the Solutrian, about 17,000 BCE. The second site, Le Haut de Combe-Capelle, is much older, dating to the Mousterian period about 100,000 years ago. The artifacts in the Logan Collections apparently derive from this second site, as they possess the characteristic features of Mousterian industry.

Upper Paleolithic France: 40,000 years ago to 9,500 BCE

35,000 - 20,000 BCE
Aurignacian industry is similar and contemporaneous with the Périgordian, the distinction being in differing blade technologies and a much higher degree of sophistication in bonework. It is thought that this technology came from outside France. The Aurignacian industry is in large part limited to central and southern France.

Abri Blanchard, Les Eyzies, Dordogne
When Alonzo Pond visited the Dordogne region of southwestern France in September, 1924, he purchased a portion of the artifacts excavated from the site at Abri Blanchard in 1910 and 1911. The site is located along the Vézère River near the village of Sergeac, not far from the famous cave at Lascaux. The artifacts in the Logan collection include 44 Aurignacian flint implements, 42 bone, antler and ivory artifacts, and 137 stone and ivory beads.

Abri Cellier, Tursac, Dordogne
In 1927, an American team from the Logan Museum undertook excavations at the Abri Cellier in the commune of Tursac (Dordogne, France). The site yielded a variety of flint work, bone work, ornamentation and faunal material. Among the most interesting are worked bone objects, some of which show early signs of being subdivided to create beads. These objects were found at the Lower Aurignacian level.

Abri de Cro-Magnon, Les Eyzies, Dordogne
The Abri Cro-Magnon is located behind the hotel of the same name in Les Eyzies. A shelter containing flints, carved bones and three skeletons was discovered in 1868. From these remains, the basic characteristics of Cro-Magnon man were defined. The industry of the occupants was Aurignacian, indicating a date of about 30,000-20,000 BCE.

Laugerie Haute, Les Eyzies, Dordogne
The shelter at Laugerie-Haute is one of the largest known. At 180 meters long, 35 meters wide and nearly 5meters deep, the site has yielded 42 levels of sediment, making it the "yardstick" for French Upper Paleolithic industry. The lowest levels date to the Périgordian (ca. 33,000-20,000 BCE), and occupation seems to have terminated around 14,000 BCE, during the Magdelenian period, at which time the nearby site of Laugerie-Basse becomes prominent. 

19,000 - 16,000 BCE
Solutrean flint industry is by far the most advanced of the Paleolithic era. Most characteristic is the finely flaked, bifacial leaf point, usually of extraordinary craftsmanship. The origins of the Solutrean are unclear - it vanishes as unexpectedly as it appears. The workmanship alone suggests a local continuation of the Mousterian parallel to the Périgordian and Aurignacian industries, but as yet unidentified in the earlier record.

Solutré, Saône-et-Loire
The type site for the Solutrean period, ca. 19,000 to 17,000 BCE, it contained industry largely dating to the Late Solutrean. Although, the Logan Museum has numerous classic Solutrean points, none comes from Solutré. However,  several teeth in the collections derive from the site. 

Le Placard
This site apparently dates to the Solutrean Age, as the flints in the Logan Collections bear the typical physical characteristics.

16,000 - 9,500 BCE
During this period, the bone industry reached its highest level. Elaborate harpoon points, tridents and even needles become common. Flint work remains similar to Solutrian. This is also a period of great artistic expression, and a majority of Upper Paleolithic art dates to the Magdalenian. 

La Madeleine, Tursac, Dordogne
La Madeleine is the type site for the Magdalenian period, particularly the Middle and Late phases, about 12,000-9,500 BCE. It was first excavated by Capitan and Peyrony in 1928. The site was rich in both lithic and bones tools, as well as engravings and bas-reliefs. 

Grotte des Eyzies, Les Eyzies, Dordogne
The Grotte des Eyzies (also known as the Grotte Richard) was first excavated in 1863, one of the earliest sites to be explored in the region. The cave has yielded over 70 engraved representations of animals in bone, antler and stone. These include wolverines, wolves, bears, red deer, reindeer, ibex, bison, horses and wild ass, all of which appear to be Late Magdalenian in origin.

The engraved bear in the Logan Collections was sold by the French artifacts dealer Clément Labrousse to Miss Martha White of New York in 1922. Miss White and her sister Emilia would become important figures in Southwestern archaeology, founding the School of American Research in Santa Fe. On January 8, 1937, the bear found its way to Beloit College, having been donated by Miss White in memory of her father, Horace White, a Beloit alumnus. 

Rocher de la Peine, Les Eyzies, Dordogne
In 1925 and 1926 the Logan Museum leased and excavated a small and little-known rockshelter near Les Eyzies in the Dordogne known as Rocher de la Peine. George Collie and his assistant, Alonzo Pond, also purchased a sizable collection of materials previously excavated from the site in 1926.

The assemblage contains over 2500 lithic artifacts, 150 bone and antler objects, a large number of faunal remains, two grinding stones and is largely dateable to the Late Magdalenian period.

Limeuil, Dordogne
Limeuil is situated at the confluence of the Vézère and Dordogne Rivers. About 12,000 years ago, the Magdalenians occupied the same locale and left abundant evidence of their stay. In 1909, M. Léo Bélanger, Limeuil's baker, and his cousin, Dr. Rivière discovered bones and chipped flints in the backyard of the bakery. The site was excavated between 1909 and 1913. The research was published in 1924. In September of 1924, Alonzo Pond was able to purchase the objects from the site at Limeuil that are currently held by the Logan Museum. 

The collection contains 77 worked flints, 22 objects consisting of incised reindeer antlers, bone and antler tools, and 46 engraved blocks. 

Grotte de Lacave (Jouclas), Dordogne
This site was excavated in 1904-1905 by Armand Viré, a portion of whose collections now reside at the Logan Museum. These consist mostly of bone and antler tools. The Grotte de Lacave, also known as the Grotte de Jouclas, was excavated by Viré between 1902 and 1905. It is perhaps known better today as one of the finest geological caves in France, but it also contained numerous remains from the Solutrian and Magdalenian periods, dating to about 19,000-9,000 BCE.

Artifacts of Unknown Provenience
Several intriguing objects in the Logan Collections derive from unidentified sites, though these sites are most likely in the Dordogne region.

Mesolithic France: 9,500 to 9,000 BCE

9,500 - 9,000 BCE The Azilian industry seems to be a declining remnant of dispersed Magdalenian communities. The bone and flint work are far less refined, and there is more focus on microliths. Bonework is limited to crude, flat barbed points.

Mas d'Azil, Pyrénées
The site at Mas d'Azil is about 20 kilometers west of Foix in the Pyrénées. It is the type site for the Azilian period, the last phase of the French Upper Paleolithic. The relative simplicity of the industry suggest a decline during this period. The painted pebbles acquired by Beloit College reportedly came from the left bank of the Arise River at Mas d'Azil. They were aquired by Alonzo Pond in two separate lots in 1929.

Neolithic Europe: 9,000 to 1,800 BCE

Neolithic Bergerac
Queyssac, Monsac and Issigeac, Dordogne, France
At some time, a number of large stone celts were purchased from a dealer in Périgueux, the principal city of the Dordogne. The Logan Collections records list these as having come from "Goudad" which does not appear to be a place name but rather that of a collector or dealer. On many of these artifacts, the original source is written in pencil, and we have used these attributions here. 

Bronze Age Europe: 1,800 to 500 BCE

Bronze Age Denmark
Denmark was a haven for Bronze Age peoples, and a multitude of sites have yielded a wide variety of artifacts.
Lac de Chalain, Jura, France
The Lac de Chalain is located approximately 20 kilometers east of Lons-le-Saunier, near the border of France and Switzerland. The site represents a typical lakeside settlement, of which thousands existed during the Bronze Age. The site has been carbon dated to around 1530 BCE.
Objects of Unknown Provenience
There are numerous Bronze Age objects which came to the Logan Museum through private collectors, but whose origins are uncertain. Many are listed simply as deriving from "Europe".

Iron Age Europe: 500 to 1 BCE

Station La Tène, Switzerland
This is the type site for the La Tène period, which extended from around 500 to 1 BC. The artifacts at the Logan Museum were part of the Vouga collection, and include a superb example of a La Tène votive sword. 
Lac Neuchâtel
To date, over 40 lakeside settlements have been discovered surrounding Lac Neuchâtel, in western Switzerland. The artifacts in the Logan Collections were obtained from the National Museum of Switzerland in Zurich, a provide a glimpse at a wide range of tools, accessories and ceramics from these Bronze Age sites.