Art and Archaeology Summer Program in Peyre Blanque, France

Despite the richness of research over many decades, and of the archaeological record, we have much to learn regarding the varieties of sites and regional mobility of late Pleistocene hunter-gatherers, especially those of the Upper Paleolithic modern humans. A landscape archaeology of the Paleolithic is increasingly possible, building on, and expanding, the history of Paleolithic research in southwestern Europe that has long privileged the detailed studies of individual sites, especially caves and rock shelters.

Located in the foothills of the Pyrenean Mountains in Southwestern France, the site of Peyre Blanque offers a unique opportunity to conduct research on a rare preserved open air settlement from the early Middle Magdalenian (ca. 16,000 BP). The site of Peyre Blanque was discovered in the context of a broader landscape project, especially dedicated to investigating the nature and importance of open air settlements in a region (Midi-Pyrénées) where prehistoric research has almost exclusively concerned rock shelters and cave sites despite numerous evidence of outside occupations. This site is already contributing to the wider anthropological goal of understanding the emergence of the distinctive Pyrenean Middle Magdalenian and thus, to understanding the contexts within which a rich and flourishing material and visual culture comes to be among hunter-gatherers. Students will contribute to a multi-year research program, participating in ongoing excavations while learning hands-on about field research methods and more broadly about the Late Glacial period in southwestern Europe.

Learning objectives

This program consists of a 4 week course where students can earn 4 or 6 credits (ANTH 380P / ANTH 570P). Through the course, graduate and undergraduate students will learn prehistoric excavation techniques, from careful exposition of artifacts to systematic detailed drawings (individual excavation units and stratigraphic profiles) and three-dimensional coordinate recording with a total station. Students will also be trained in laboratory processing of artifacts (including wet-sieving techniques and flotation), recording (including ink-drawing of artifact, site features, and stratigraphic profiles), and some analytic techniques (such as technological and typological analysis, refitting and petrographic and geochemical sourcing analysis). Students will be given a chance to further participate in the study of the site by collaborating on the analysis of the artifact collections (lithic and bone artifacts, pigments, spatial analysis), or its paleo-environmental aspects (charcoal, geology, geomorphology, micromorphology, etc).

Additionally, students will be immersed in the current debates and research trends regarding the Late Pleistocene both in the regional framework and in southwestern Europe. There will be field trips to local raw material sources (in connection with Peyre Blanque), as well as museums and archaeological sites throughout the region, including some of the most impressive decorated caves such as Niaux and Bédeilhac.

Program Information

Dates: June 28 - July 26, 2014

Location: Commune of Fabas (Ariege, Midi-Pyrenees, France). [map]

Important: The field school is limited to 8 students. You need to complete an application to be considered.Check back soon for the next application.

Costs: Estimate of Costs for 6 credits
  Estimate of Costs for 4 credits

Direct questions about the course and program:

Dr. Kathleen Sterling & Dr. Sebastien Lacombe
Department of Anthropology 
Binghamton University
PO Box 6000
Binghamton, NY 13902-6000

Last Updated: 8/21/14