Highlights of our Journey:

There is so much content collected on our journey it will take several upcoming months to consolidate. We will share some of our findings in brief here in our newsletter. We will go much deeper during the upcoming 2020 workshop season at the Institute. For those who are interested, I have provided a consolidated list of some of the places here we visited on our journey. This list is still in progress…

British Museum. Referred to as the “Museum of the World” with over two million years of human history and culture

Museum of London. We especially enjoyed the “London before London” exhibit – explores the lives of the people living in the Lower Thames Valley from around 450,000 BC until the creation of the Roman city of Londinium around AD 50. 

Victoria & Albert Museum. so much to see…2.27 million objects !  5000 years of art. 12.5 acres. Incredible fascinating but also overwhelming.  Still we loved it. 

National Museum of Archaeology – Malta. With prehistoric artifacts Up to 5000 years old. Like most people, Laura and I are familiar with the great buildings of the Neolithic (Stonehenge,,Avebury,the stone circles of Orkney, Newgrange etc) but knowlege quite unprepared for the degree of decoration which the ancient people of Malta applied to their buildings and their possessions and artefacts. It is really moving to see that after they had laboriously made something, without all the equipment that we take for granted, they then settled down to making it beautiful. There are fragments of decorated pottery, carved pediments and bases, friezes of animals and fish as well as beautiful statuettes (the “Venus of Malta” and “The Sleeping Lady” and human representations which are full of character. There is good background information about the course of Maltese pre-history and the designs of the great temples – the prehistoric section is a real eye-opener and should be seen before any visit to the temple buildings.

Ħaġar Qim & Mnajdra – Megalithic Temples, Malta.Massive stones, formed into temple rooms, surprisingly shaped altars, doorways carved through single slabs all take you into another world. As a UNESCO World heritage site, this is carefully monitored environmentally and the experience enhanced as research and funds permit. I personally found this equally if not more evocative of prehistoric times than I did the much better sites such as Stonehenge. In both the orientation of buildings to the phases on the sun seemingly share common perspectives

Tarxien Megalithic Temple – Malta. Tarxien Temples an archaeological complex that date to approximately 3150 BC. This is the remains of three temples attached back to back. Some have intricately carved blocks with spirals, dots or animal

Hypogeum.The Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni is a Neolithic subterranean structure. This underground prehistoric site with parts dating back to 4000 BC.  

Gozo Museum of Archaeology.From unique 5000-year-old stone carvings to relics of the Phoenician, Roman, Arab and Medieval Christian eras on the island, the Gozo Museum of Archaeology is a small but important window onto the earliest cultures.. Sculptures of human figures from the prehistoric Ġgantija Temple complex and the nearby ix-Xagħra Circle burial site are highlights of the collection. Created before the building of the famous standing stones at Stonehenge, these figures give real insight into the lives of the first Gozitans and their remarkable ability to work with stone.

Ġgantija – Megalithic Temple – Gozo Malta  and
Citadel, (rich history back to 1500 BC) Ta’ Kola Windmill.

We took a ferry to their island of Gozo, known for its Neolithic Ġgantija Temple ruins.  We also toured the Citadel, (rich history back to 1500 BC) Ta’ Kola Windmill (one of the few surviving windmills dating back to the Knights’ Period) and the Ggantija Temple, Neolithic megalithic temple complex (older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids at more than 5500 years old).

Bordeaux France – Musée d’Aquitaine. The Prehistory rooms present the last 500,000 years of Aquitaine’s past. There are several thousand flints, bones, works of art made from stone or bone, jewelry and bronze objects, which show the evolution of the different human cultures from the first traces of Man in Aquitaine to the advent of metalworking.
Grottes de Cougnac. The caves of Cougnac are rich in natural stalactite formations, and numerous cave paintings dating from the Palaeolithic. These caves are remarkable for their abundant and delicate concretions surrounding some very fine prehistoric paintings: ibex, mammoth, large deer, sketchy human forms, various signs

Grotte du Sorcier. The Grotte du Sorcier, also known as the Grotte de Saint-Cirq is one of the rare caves in the world with a prehistoric representation of a human figure. La Grotte du Sorcier is a cave with engravings made by prehistoric man during the Magdalenian period, about 17000 to 12000 years ago. Inside the cave there are not a lot of engravings but one of them is a very rare engraving of a human figure – known as the sorcerer. There are only 12 other human representations dating from prehistoric times in France.

National Museum of Prehistory  – LeseyziesL-de-Tayac-Sireuil, France. The museum houses some 18,000 pieces and a collection of six million objects. In addition to presenting its collections to the general public, conserving humankind’s heritage and supporting archaeological digs, the museum also hosts archaeologists, researchers and students from the world over. Features unique archaeological collections chiefly discovered at the most prestigious excavation sites in the Vézère Valley, added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List owing to its many Palaeolithic remains

Cave Bear – Bara-Bahau.Bara Bahau is a geologic and prehistoric cave listed as a historical monument. It features a wide, deep cave of more than 100m in length edged by marine strata and eccentric stalactites. At the very back of this cave, hidden behind giant boulders, you’ll see engravings dating from the Middle Magdalenian. A number of cave bear claw marks show that such animals occupied this cave well before prehistoric Cro-Magnon man. The gouges are mingled with vast, authentic engravings representing animals such as horses, bears and aurochs, as well as enigmatic symbols of hands and phalli, among more. This fantastic past surges out of the darkness to reveal an impressive relief.

Rockamadoor. Sacred town and important pilgrimage site, the village of Rocamadour is perched on the side of a limestone cliff and towers majestically over the Alzou canyon.

Padirac Cave. After a vertiginous descent to 340 ft below ground level (don’t worry, there’s a lift!), you’re off on a visit that takes 1 hr 30 mins. Once down, we took a trip in a small boat along the underground river! The word “cave” seems inadequate to described Gouffre de Padirac. The size of the cave itself, all the things you expect to see in a cave like flow stone, stalagmites, stalactites and columns and other huge scale structures.

Font-de-Gaume Cave.The cave contains prehistoric polychrome cave paintings and engravings dating to the Magdalenian period.. The cave mouth was inhabited at least sporadically for the next several thousand years. However, after the original prehistoric inhabitants left, the cave was forgotten until the nineteenth century when local people again began to visit the cave. The paintings date from around 17,000 BC. Many of the cave’s paintings have been discovered in recent decades. The cave’s most famous painting, a frieze of five bison, was discovered accidentally in 1966 while scientists were cleaning the cave.

Grotte de Bernifal. Bernifal is a cave decorated with over 100 engravings and paintings. It includes engravings of horses, bison, mammoths and ibex as well as the enigmatic tectiform (roof shaped) drawings seen in many other caves of the same period. It has changed very little in more than twelve thousand years, and has not been vandalised, since the original entrance was blocked with rubble when the last artists left. We were invited for a private tour

Lauscaux. Lascaux is world famous for its Palaeolithic cave paintings, found in a complex of caves in the Dordogne region of southwestern France, because of their exceptional quality, size, sophistication and antiquity. Estimated to be up to 20,000 years old, the paintings consist primarily of large animals, once native to the region.

Abie Pataud.

abri pataud venus

This venus is known as the ‘Venus of Abri Pataud’. Abri Pataud is a well researched archaeological site within the village of Les Eyzies.

Perch Merle. Extending for over a kilometre and a half from the entrance are caverns, the walls of which are painted with dramatic murals dating from 25,000 years BC.

Naiux Cave. Niaux Cave, or la Grotte de Niaux is one of the most famous prehistoric caves in Europe. The huge cave entrance 55 metres high and 50 metres wide and is at 678 metres above sea level. Niaux Cave contains paintings of bison, horses and ibex drawn in black in great detail. Numerous geometric signs can also be seen most of which are painted in red.

Brooklyn Museum. The Brooklyn Museum is an art museum located in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. At 560, 000 square feet, it is New York City’s third largest in physical size and holds an art collection with roughly 1.5 million works.