Lartet

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(1801-73). A magistrate by training, who abandoned the study of law to become a palaeontologist and one of the pioneer Palaeolithic prehistorians of France. Initially on his own, later with the help of his English banker friend Henry Christy, he excavated many of the famous caves of southwest France, including La Madeleine, Laugerie Haute and Le Moustier, published eventually in the volumes of Reliquiae Aquitanicae between 1865 and 1875. Lartet devised a system for classifying the material from these caves, based on palaeontological criteria. He proposed four successive periods: the Cave Bear period; the Woolly Mammoth and Rhinoceros period; the Reindeer period and the Aurochs or Bison period. It was an interesting scheme, but difficult to apply and with geographically restricted validity; most scholars preferred the system of de Mortillet which was based on archaeological criteria (such as tool form) and employed the names of type sites for periods, for example Mousterian after Le Moustier. Lartet and Christy discovered Upper Palaeolithic decorated objects (mobiliary art) in their cave excavations and the publication of these objects from well-excavated contexts made it easier for some scholars at least to accept the authenticity of cave art when the first wall paintings were discovered in the 1870s.

The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983Copied

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