The Women of Brassempouy: A Century of Research and Interpretation Author(s): Randall White Source: Journal of Archaeological Method and

Theory, Vol. 13, No. 4, Advances in the Study of Pleistocene Imagery and Symbol Use, Part 1 (Dec., 2006), pp. 251-304 Published by: Springer Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20177543 . Accessed: 19/01/2011 04:34
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Journal DOI:

of Archaeological

Method

and Theory,

Vol. 13, No. 4, December

2006

f? 2006)

10.1007/sl0816-006-9023-z

The Women of Brassempouy: Research and Interpretation
Randall White1
Published online: 30 November 2006

A Century

of

The discovery of female figurines at Brassempouy in the 1890's would launch more than a century of debate and interpretation concerning Paleolithic rep resentations of women. The figurines emerged from the ground into a colonial context nearly obsessed with matters of race. This intellectual and socio-political racial interpretive frame would only be replaced in the mid 20th centuryy early when prehistorians turned to questions such as fertility and womanhood. The first figurines were discovered in 1892 under rather tortured circum stances in which their very ownership was the subject of a heated dispute between Edouard Piette and Emile Cartailhac. Their toxic relationship would lead Piette, in his subsequent excavations, to be extremely precise about issues of stratigraphie and spatial provenience. Piette7s publications and archives enabled Henri Del to confirm the Gravettian attribution of thefigurines and have allowed the porte present author to create a map of their spatial distribution within the site. re and microscopic Technological analysis of the Brassempouy figurines solves some lingering questions about the sex of certain of the figurines and and the abandonment of un suggests an original context of figurine fabrication successful
KEY WORDS:

sculpting attempts.
Brassempouy; grotte du Pape; Venus figurines; female statuettes.

INTRODUCTION
Paleolithic images of women are among the most fertile sources of debate in all of archaeology. At the same time, they remain one of the most poorly known, with few specialists having actually studied large numbers of them first hand. The consequence has been that they have frequently been the subject of stereotypes (Nelson, 1990) that have not taken into consideration generalizing
department 25 Waverly of Anthropology, Center for the Study of Human Origins, New Place, New York, NY 10003, USA; e-mail; randall.white@nyu.edu. York University,

251
1072-5369/06/1200-0251/1? 2006 SpringerScience4-Business Media, LLC

252

White

their morphological variation, the technology underlying their production and the contexts in which they are found. There has also been a very real archaeological lack of consideration of the original intellectual and historical contexts that result in today's spontaneous use of terms such as venus, goddess and fertility figure. In reality, these latter interpretations (disguised as descriptive terms) are of recent manufacture (White, 2003b). As we shall see below, at the time of their first discovery in the late 19th century, the question of their racial origin dominated
discourse about them.

Especially since World War II, a diversity of interpretive frames has been ap 1995) with the focus plied to Paleolithic female images (Delporte, 1993b; White, shifting to their status as women. First phrased in terms of fertility, reproduction and religious power (for example, Gimbutas, 1989), interpretive emphasis has and obstetrics (Duhard, 1993a, more recently tilted to questions of gynecology status, roles and sexual division of labor (Soffer et al., 2000), 1993b), womens' different facets of womanhood (Rice, 1981) and even women as sexual objects There has also been a newfound emphasis on representational (Guthrie, 1979). 1997a, 1997b; Roussot, 1995) and viewing 1989; White, I leave aside many of these more recent 1996). Here, (McDermott, perspectives Instead, I seek to illuminate our understanding by focusing on developments. the first assemblage of Gravettian (ca. 28-22,000 the figures from Brassempouy, female figurines to be published, exploring various aspects of their discov BP) ery, interpretation and the intellectual context into which they emerged from the techniques (Gvozdover, sediments of SW France. The sculpted figure known as La Dame ? la capuche, from the grotte du in the southwest corner of France, is one of the most fre Pape at Brassempouy quently reproduced and widely appreciated objects in the entire archaeological record. Photographic images of this tiny sculpture of a human head have appeared in generations of American college textbooks and have adorned the covers of countless compendia of prehistoric art. Surprisingly, only a hard core of prehis of her discovery and of the toric art specialists is aware of the circumstances fact that she was accompanied by several other sculpted human images. The ul of the dame ? timate goal of this paper is to provide a better contextualization and social la capuche and her sisters in historical, stratigraphie, technological
terms.

Specifically,

I seek to

1. Describe the stage-setting events in French prehistory that preceded the discoveries by Edouard Piette of female images at Brassempouy 2. Outline the tortured history surrounding the excavations at Brassempouy that led to the discovery of the figurines,2

2Tomaskova understanding.

(2003)

has underscored

the impact

of such

local histories

on modern

archaeological

Women

of Brassempouy

253

3. Discuss
sources,

the archaeological and stratigraphie context in which they were found, using both published accounts and previously unpublished archival

4. Present and evaluate some of the interpretive highlights of their early career as archaeological icons, notably their insertion into scientific and popular ideologies linking race and evolution, 5. Describe and illustrate my own technological and microscopic analysis of the Dame ? la capuche and the other Brassempouy figurines, the results of which, even through the fog of 115 years, suggest a context of figurine fabrication and the abandonment of unsuccessful sculpting attempts.

PREAMBLE TO THE BRASSEMPOUY DISCOVERIES
The first Upper Paleolithic representation of a woman was discovered in about 1864 by theMarquis de Vibraye at Laugerie-Basse (Dordogne), in the immediate and Christy at this site and others aftermath of the pioneering excavations by Lartet in and around Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. This 7.7 cm tall sculpture in ivory (Fig. 1) was named La V?nus impudique (the immodest Venus) by its discoverer and is also sometimes referred to as the V?nus de Vibraye. The term V?nus was almost certainly applied in evocation of classical antiquity and in recognition of her gracile form. She is headless, footless, armless and breastless. Her legs are separated each from the other, and she has a strongly incised vaginal opening. She ismost often is certain, interpreted as a pre-pubescent girl. Her attribution to theMagdalenian as this is the only Paleolithic culture present in the Laugerie-Basse sequence. Yet another Magdalenian female representation (Fig. 1)was discovered a few years later3 at Laugerie-Basse by the abb? Landesque. It was stunningly different from the V?nus impudique in that the woman in question, almost certainly a pregnant adult, was part of a complex composition engraved on a palmate fragment of antler. She is positioned beneath and behind the rear quarters of amale reindeer and is engraved using the same false-relief technique as the latter. Apparently, her head has been lost to prehistoric breakage of the support piece. Her feet resemble the hoofs of the associated reindeer and her anus are upraised in front of her face. Her abdomen is clearly pregnant and covered with hundreds of missing small tool incisions evoking body hair or clothing. Her wrists show engraved cuffs or bracelets and the base of her missing neck shows a collar or necklace. The absence of the word V?nus from published descriptions of this object can perhaps be understood by the fact that her physical form does not correspond
to the canons of classical antiquity, ever moreso because she is engraved rather

than sculpted in the round. Most

relevant for the current discussion
figure, much more

is that she was
by Dupont (in

3ln the intervening years, another sculpted in Belgium. 1867) at Trou-Magrite

abstract, was discovered

254

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the time of his excavations at purchased from Landesque by the renowned French prehistorian. 1827.March Brassempouy at about 11. Prior to his death in 1906. human figures from the Upper Paleolithic were engraved male images published . 2. d. Piette would donate her to the mus?e des Antiquit?s nationales at Saint Germain-en-Laye (Reinach.Women of Brassempouy 255 Fig. June 5. Edouard Piette (Fig. the only other At the time of Edouard Piette's excavations at Brassempouy. 1906). 2). Edouard Piette (b. who labelled her La Femme au renne (the woman with reindeer).1906) (Phototype Berthaud).

his correspondence with representatives yields precious insights into the of his interpretations. 21-22).256 of Magdalenian at La Madeleine at Laugerie-Basse age: L'Homme (Dordogne). discovered by Massenat (Dordogne). 1913) and links with Africa. at Grimaldi on the Franco-Italian frontier. as well as his detailed reading of the figurines. 1902). ideological underpinnings At the close of the 19th century. 1896 . female figurines at the sites of Barme Grande and the Grotte du Prince. Piette's influential approach to figurine nomenclature. These would play a r?le in Piette's struggle to interpret Upper Paleolithic images of women. Apart from occasional comments about attractive contours. "because I have never seen a male statuette from these periods (Piette. Although most of these discoveries occurred prior to Piette's excavations at Brassempouy from 1894 to 1897. they were kept a closely guarded secret for commercial and legal reasons (Bisson andWhite.MAN archive no. 1998). Moreover. 1896. seven of the Grimaldi female figurines from their excavator. April 5. Most importantly for our pur poses. 1894a. Germain museum the figurines as women was largely irrelevant to his interpretive priorities. White and Bisson. Piette would name and describe these figurines in detail. Edouard Piette owned. Piette would subsequently purchase. 1898). Piette actually states that the only reason that he focused on descriptions of women in his racial analyses was. the status of of the mus?e of the St. Louis Alexandre Jullien. June 12. This was a very (1875). following his excavations at Brassempouy to be discussed below. In sum. White and L'Homme au b?ton sur l'?paule. 133) prior to the controversial 1898 publication of one of these objects (Reinach. acquired by Reinach on behalf des Antiquit?s nationales at Saint Germain-en-Laye (Piette. providing clues about his conceptual and theoretical frame of mind. almost all of the Upper Paleolithic female figures known to prehistoric science (Piette. MAN archive no. literally. several discoveries were made of Finally. well after the discovery of all but one of the female figurines at Brassempouy in 1892 and 1894. Piette seems not to have been aware of the existence of the Grimaldi figures until 1896. sculpted representations of humans constituted precious evidence of ancient European populations (see also Lalanne." At a time when French physical anthropology and prehistory were dominated by the racial preoccupations of Paul Broca and Ren? Verneau. took place against a backdrop of questions concerning the African origins of Upper Paleolithic peoples or. 1907). deeply-entrenched. Gabriel de Mortillet (1821-1898) different intellectual climate from that of the early 1860's when classical Venuses . the primitive status of modern Africans. 129. by the late 19th century new chronostratigraphic had developed in the works of Lartet and Christy geographic understandings and Piette himself. pp. more correctly. and culture Moreover. The Grimaldi figurines first became known to Piette in the of 1896 (Piette to Reinach. in 1883 and again in 1892-95. found by Lartet and Christy et l'aurochs. Piette spring to Reinach. 1996. some time between 1898 and 1902.

-E. At Piette's instigation (Piette. inMont de Marsan. Descending into what we now know to be Solutrean and Gravettian layers exposed Dubalen's removal by of Magdalenian of ivory objects. realistic readings need not have induced race. he misses an opportunity to explore the socio-political and historical underpinnings of this phenomenon. consisting almost exclusively du Pape. It will not be my goal here to summarize the interpretive frameworks that in the second half of the 20th century. curator of the regional museum visited the site in 1881 (Piette. Emile Magitot. and later. Piette first Sever. whose and art-for-art's-sake EXCAVATION THE GROTTE DU PAPE.Women of Brassempouy 257 could be placed hand in glove in the near total absence of archaeo-stratigraphic knowledge and non-Western ethnographic analogies perti nent to questions of art and representation. p. 12). 1892. Itwas discovered in 1880 during road-building operations on the property of the Comte de Poudenx who sponsored the first excavations in 1880 by P. This emphasis on race prior to World War I has been largely ignored inmost historical overviews. By spends barely lumping racial interpretations within the broader class of "realistic" readings of the figurines. 1894a. p. Dubalen and Joseph de la Porterie. de la Porterie and Dufour would observe This would lead Piette to distinguish this the importance indus "Eburn?enne" try from the overlying "Tarandienne" industry where reindeer antler dominated (Piette. Dufour. After all. a pharmacist in the nearby village of St.-L. a decision that the head of the .-E. 1894a). Their plans were temporarily he would bitterly regret. On March suspended when Piette made 13. In the winter of 1891-92. deposits. artistic and popular imagination. 12) on the invitation of P. would arrive on the scene decades after Piette's death in 1906. We shall see below that an additional factor was the turn-of-the-century resurrection and appropriation of all things African in the French scientific. (1993b). these latter preoccupations. a paragraph on readings of the figurines that focus on race. de la Porterie and Piette agreed to continue the work in collaboration. however. Even Delporte developed dominance chronicle of interpretations is otherwise rather comprehensive. Dubalen (1881) published the first report on the site. Dr. BRASSEMPOUY OF The AFAS Excavation of 1892 and the "Theft" of La Poire The cave known as the grotte du Pape is located in the Chalosse region of the French department of Landes. but rather to underline the of race in Piette's view of things. of Magdalenian materials from the upper levels of the grotte Then after several years of abandonment. excavations were resumed from 1891 to 1892 by Joseph de la Porterie and A. Dubalen. a relative of the site's owner. 1894a. They could just as easily have focused on reproductive or sexual anatomy.

where de la Porterie had been excavating for two years. 133). 1892. Piette informed him that Brassempouy. worked unsupervised for nearly two days before Dubalen would finally arrive on the scene the afternoon of September 16. Piette then asked de la Porterie and the Comte de Poudenx to temporarily cede control of the site to the AFAS for their excursion. After all. Dubalen was work. There they collected numerous objects. 274). scheduled for September 19. would quickly go from bad to worse. p. They arrived on the morning of September 15 and. wrote to Piette asking whether he knew of a prehistoric site that could serve for an excursion by members of the Pau congress of the AFAS in September. p. 275. 1892. observing a Solutrean layer. Objects found during these preparations were set aside in a untrained they accomplished to be shown to the members exposed archaeological nearby house were of the AFAS excursion. Piette. 1893a). the AFAS9 s Magitot. Piette. 1894a. Piette returned to Brassempouy since 1881 (Piette. and a local workman. 1892. At the request of de la Porterie. digging excursions was standard fare right up toWorld War II when the law of 1941 imposed greater controls on the excavation process. However. Things Twelve workmen were employed to prepare the site for the excursion. the count gave his approval not only for excavations during the September 19 excursion. astonishingly. layers that no stratigraphie So disturbed analysis the previously was possible when the excursionists arrived tomake matters worse in what Henri Delporte (1993b. 1892). 275). congress in 1934 (Guichard. They were invited to dine at the Comte de Poudenx's residence that evening. Emile Cartailhac (the preeminent French prehistorian from Toulouse). 14-15). de la Porterie. met at Brassempouy. 1895a. spending an hour or two excavating in l'Avenue (Cartailhac. p.258 White physical anthropology section of the Association fran?aise pour F avancement de la science. (Dordogne) during its P?rigueux . 21) would describe as one of the greatest looting episodes in the history of Prehistory. with great enthusiasm. 1892. for the first time On September 10. the damage had been done. fit the bill. Itwas understood that after the excavations by the AFAS. these were This agricultural workers whose only instructions were to clear the site. For example. de la Porterie would not join him assigned on site until the very morning of the excursion on September 19 (Piette.4 in the context of congress such uncontrolled 4As tragic as it was from a modern perspective. to help him (Magitot. 1892). de la Porterie would resume his excavations in collaboration with Piette. By then. the exact nature and stratigraphie position of which they hoped would be resolved during the AFAS excursion. p. by turning the soil with standard agricultural picks. no less eminent an organization than the Soci?t? Pr?historique to the abri des in an excursion the same kind of sanctioned pillaging undertook precisely Fran?aise Merveilles 1935). Dubalen. 1892.1892 (Piette. Piette's plan was to have his trusted de la Porterie supervise the preparatory as he had other obligations during this period. pp. Against his better instincts (Piette. In reality. p. but also for preparatory work including tree removal (Piette. 1892.

who was suspected of having a better spot. p. although it remains that le Fragment was derived therefrom. . due to its apparent unfinished small. 4). it is entirely probable that other important objects were never surrendered by the excavators. once assembled on-site. no stratigraphie control was exercised. A bouchon ? outre (skin-bag plug) (Fig. A figurine fragment. went to work with the implicit under standing that most discovered objects would remain the property of the finder. Cartailhac (1892) states that. they invaded the trenches. Soon after.. the Comte de Poudenx. 2. heavily worked fragment of ivory (Fig. upon arrival on-site. They spoke little. in spite of the poor conditions of discovery. 1893. the physical anthropologist Emile lower portion of an anthropomorphic figure (Fig. everyone hastened to dig up the talus. 1895b). 3) subsequently named l'Ebauche (the rough-out) by Piette. 148) that L'Ebauche was found in the right-hand side of the cave (when facing out by the AFAS workmen from the entrance). each casting a furtive and jealous glance at their neighbor. 1895a. or those that were possible uncovered were never surrendered to the AFAS representatives. 5-2). The bags filled up. 1895a. The In the course of this "excavation" three sculpted ivory objects were found to the AFAS representative. Although chaotic digging took place inside and outside the grotte du Pape. almost certainly a nature. 5Not a single figurine is attributed with certainty to the AFAS trench in l'Avenue. in what is generally known as "l'Avenue" shortly after the excursion.5 Piette was present during this debacle and. 3. rendering any serious stratigraphie work impossible (Piette. When the excursionists went to work. As for Le Fragment. p. the excavations focused on a sagittal trench run or ning outward from the cave opening.Women of Brassempouy 259 to Piette (1892. we know only that It was left on site by the AFAS diggers and later recovered by the site's owner. de la Porterie and Dubalen provided a history of excavations to the members of the excursion.. [ ]. with improvised tools or with picks and digging tools brought for the purpose. working on his own behalf. we know (Piette. Given the anarchical nature of the AFAS excavation. 1895a. 134). each According of the forty participants chose a sector and. Either none were found there. As a result. sometimes "l'All?e" In a brief note published and surrendered Magitot: 1. he was able to interrogate Dubalen as to the find locations of important objects found during the preparations and on the day of the excur sion. The preparatory work was badly done and the AFAS excursionists arrived to find the Solutrean exposures covered with backdirt.

an unnamed. White). White). the AFAS excursion found Fig. (Photo. R. 3. The figurine fragment known as V Ebauche. of September 19.1892 found during (the rough-out). .260 White Fig. Le Fragment.1892. the Compte de Poudenx (Photo. sculpted fragment of mammoth-ivory It was left on site and later 19. 4. R. during the AFAS excursion of September recovered by the site's owner.

Besides . 31 July. 1894. during the AFAS excursion 1892.Women of Brassempouy 261 in detail here. MAN archive no. 144): Regrettable things happened during the Pau congress. 2: A so-called Ivory pendants. discovered 19. 3 and 6: Fig. the members of the AFAS excursion were unaware of According dramatic events that had occurred on the evening before their arrival (Piette to Bertrand. to Piette. Monsieur Trutat. 1907). 1. recovered from the Magdalenian (adapted from Piette. dividing them statuette which is now in the hands of Monsieur the steatopygous up between them. They went together to the house where artifacts from the site were stored and took them. 4: The fragment of ivory ring found during preparations for the excursion. Well known ivory objects from the grotte du Pape not discussed from de la Porterie's 1891-92 excavations. On the eve of the visit to Brassempouy by members of the congress. on September to Brassempouy bouchon ? outre in ivory. 5. 7: So-called navette in ivory. came to the site in charge of the association's where he found Monsieur Dubalen excavations. almost certainly Gravettian. accompanied by Monsieur X. layer inside the Grande Galerie.

due to the shape of its enormous thighs. to In sum. was Emile Cartailhac's boss! de Toulouse to Readers who wish the original French quotations. as if things were not bad enough. 145). It remained Piette (Piette to Reinach. They knew full well. 1894. had they not been pilfered. bones and flint disappeared. archive no. Before doing so. given this name from the inception. They objects. 6) known as La Poire (the Pear). 1894). fauna and worked as well White as some beautiful ivory sculptures. 1895). .. Among these was an ivory ring (Fig.262 there was Cartailhac. the exception of a few pieces that were justifiably In less time than you can say it.. and erudite discussions were rekindled with enthusiasm. and simply given to the AFAS diggers in a kind of free-for-all : The objects from recent excavations. I have not reproduced obtain them are invited to request them from the author. but seemed not to their colleagues who had come from afar to visit the site. 1910). Cartailhac claims that they were piled on tables on the site. If itwas a lease. important objects belonging the Comte de Poudenx had been stolen (according to Piette) and confided to Cartailhac of Toulouse. with held back. that the next day deprived of the means probably another. even presenting La Poire before the British Association for the Poire of Science (Cartailhac. that Cartailhac still had in his possession important ivory objects from la grotte du Pape.8 the Comte de Poudenx.] The existence recognized a full two years ago and. the association from understanding the nature These wretches prevented race would have been of the site and its contents. large piles of But the sun began to set and it was nearly time to leave. would be to appreciate it. having been named Head Curator at theMus?um in 1866. He then anonymously published La struck with 1894) according to the terms of a compromise (Anonymous. 7For reasons of space. was not an ordinary thief (Cartailhac. The latter retained these objects for more than two years (Regnault. They also knew that what they had taken belonged to others but committed the theft without Trutat6 is guilty of batting an eye. we did justice to the buffet which had so usefully taken the place of the fossils on the tables. by the workmen who found it. Here are two rascals worthy of punishment. then the objects 8The nature of the agreement with the Comte de Poudenx according to common practice at the time. long after the "stolen" figurine had been returned. in 1895 (by which Advancement time Piette had negotiated the purchase of all of the statuettes from the latter) . While Piette had said they were set aside for the appreciation of excursion members. of the steatopygous [. MAN Piette's position. probably belonged to the AFAS.7 Cartailhac's (1892) version was quite different from that of Piette concerning the artifacts from Dubalen's preparatory excavations. These would only be returned to their owner. 5-4) and the figurine (Fig. Indeed. the beautiful and interesting and admired by the sculptures associated with the statuettes would have been published public. he was a renowned 6Eug?ne Trutat (1840-1910) d'Histoire naturelle photographer and geologist who. July 27. is unclear. both care. took everything. were given to the participants. Monsieur theft and Monsieur Dubalen of complicity and abuse of trust.

143) 9 Yann Potin. which. According time that the members of the excursion arrived on site on September 19. 17). it remains the subject of scientific curiosity and speculation. . 6). targeted Magitot. the "stolen" figurine had been badly Unfortunately. Magitot it on to Trutat and Cartailhac. in Dubalen's absence. Dubalen showed it to several persons present. in press). this statuette was found at about the up in Cartailhac's hands. Found during preparatory digging in the days the AFAS excursion immediately preceding evident at right (Photos. Dubalen succeeded in collecting several fragments and gave them to "one of his AFAS colleagues" who refitted them to reveal the form of a woman. almost certainly a reference to Sartje Baartman. 2001. 6. By implication. provides a detailed account of Piette's accusations of theft.Women of Brassempouy 263 Fig. b) provides yet a third account9 of how La Poire ended to him. but retained possession of passed it. Profile and top views of the mammoth-ivory figurine fragment known as La Poire (the pear). White). the only Brassempouy This name was figurine that Piette labelled a Venus: La V?nus de Brassempouy. discovery. In spite of the damage done to it (Fig. He then mailed it toMagitot early the next morning. of 1892. the so-called Hottentot Venus (compare with Fig. the damage wrought by Dubalen's excavators is Dubalen (1893a. The prominent mons venus is visible in profile at left. we do know (1895. shattered by the excavation tool of one of his workmen at the moment of its to Emile Cartailhac (1894) and Adrien de Mortillet (1894. According 1895). the leading expert on the history of the Brassempouy excavations. including Piette. From Piette's interrogation of Dubalen. through the use of a pseudonym. p. Dubalen and Cartailhac (Potin. R.

attributed in today's terms to a Gravettian with Noailles burins (Delporte. they observed a sequence of three stratigraphie levels. Reinach. As if this were not bad enough. the site was partially by clandestine excavators in the days following the Pau congress.10 it is sufficient to present the sagittal profile (Fig. 1894a. extending the frontal portions of the grotte des Hy?nes in 1896. 1894a.264 White that La Poire was found in the right-hand (when looking outward) side of the cave near its eastern wall. (Aurignacian) . Their controlled excavations lasted for four seasons from 1894 to 1897 (Carr?re. 1993b). It is noteworthy that. 8 and 20). which seems to equate to the "statuette layer" (E) in l'Avenue. they found a lower layer on bedrock.b. 1896. 7) of the grotte du Pape published by Piette in 1895. of their excavations (a deep bifurcation deep into the Grande Galerie Magdalenian). This lower layer contained huge quantities of ivory.b).e. Cartailhac would propose to the Pau congress that he be given the remaining funds to continue excavations in the site. the chamber to the right as one enters the grotte du Pape (Figs. The day after the excursion. the lowest being on bedrock. 10During the four years of excavation. 168) of the state of preservation of this figurine.c. For Piette. containing large quantities of ivory but no figurines. in press). Piette and de la Porterie would win out over Cartailhac for the Comte de Poudenx's permission to con tinue excavations (Piette. For our purposes. in proximity to L'Ebauche. during the 1896 season. the reader will comprehend the strange. completely disaggregated Also in 1896. In a very humid area at a point about 12m from the entry. known as the Grande Galerie. 1894a. 2002). which Piette argued had been accumulated and stored in the cave by the prehistoric occupants. in other words. Piette and de la Porterie exca they enlarged vated part of the Galerie du Puits. the excursion had the undesirable consequence of focusing atten tion on the richness of the grotte du Pape deposits. they penetrated into the left gallery of the grotte du Pape. Potin. This mass of ivory was so humid as to be in a near liquid state (the consistancy of runny brie cheese according to Piette). a direct challenge to Piette and de la Porterie which Piette justifiably read as hostility on the part of Southern French prehisto rians toward the research activities of a northerner (Piette. looted Piette and de la Porterie's Stratigraphie Excavations In the wake of the sanctioned pillaging of 1892. After cleaning up the mess left by the 1892 excursion and subsequent looting. In reading Piette and de la Porterie's account (1897. Piette and de la Porterie.d. 2001. p. Here. almost they also explored the interior of the grotte du Pape (Solutrean. and they excavated the grotte du Pape) further along the hillside. In this lower layer was found the last of Piette's figurines from Brassempouy: Le Torse. the trench in front of the grotte du Pape and rendered a series of stratigraphie profiles. All available indications are that all the female figurines are from level E. sometimes in hollows in the bedrock itself.

Second.5 thick). completely saturated.E. it turned white and developed stains. First. from 1 to 2. 1896. Piette would only learn of the existence of the Grimaldi figurines in the late spring of 1896 (Piette to Reinach.5 m thick) :Yellow clay containing a series of layers attributed at the time to the Magdalenian. Piette was very attentive to the context in which the 1894-97 figurines were found and was extremely concerned tomake observations related to the possible intrusion of the or by trickery. which Piette saw as a continuation of theMagdalenian layers inside the cave." A: Humic layer. both Piette and Reinach had noted the striking resemblance of certain of the Brassempouy pieces to Egyptian "dolls. Although Piette's excavations were not up to modem standards. Piette's (1895) sagittal profile along "the Avenue. either by stratigraphie mixture possible suspicion that the figurines were of recent manufacture derived from two factors. It took two months for it to lose its tackiness. In particular. B: Yellow silt (2 to 2. they were a model of stratigraphie control in the late 19th century. a pale chamois color when lifted out of the silt and. restricted to the zone distal to the "avenue." raising for them the possibility of recent intrusions. His concern to allay all figurines". In drying out. 14 and 15).F (taken together. . sculpted representations of "steatopygous" women were heretofore unknown and claims for their existence needed to be stratigraphically unassailable. it was grey patches and black sticky to the touch. liquified appearance of the piece (Figs. nos. H: Sterile gravels the Solutrean and the Mousterian.Women of Brassempouy 265 0??& 0 1 1 I Foyers 2 i 3 i 4 ' 5m ' m Fig. Piette archive MAN. D.". C: Yellow blocky layer (90 cm thick) containing Solutrean pieces. The question is also raised as to whether the concentration of figurines in L'Avenue might be in part due to preservation It was factors. 5 April and 12 June. G: Sterile clay (25 cm thick). (30 cm thick). 7.

266 White ON O O. 2 g QQ .

The Excavations and Observations of Henri Delporte. both on-site and by studying Piette's. 1981-2000 When Henri Delporte resumed the excavations of the grotte du Pape in 1979. at the beginning of the third year of his excavations at Brassempouy and after his excavations had already yielded at least five figurines. Front and rear views of the ivory figurine fragment that Piette found in 1894 and named Le Manche de poignard struck by the flaring hips that he (the dagger handle). heavily patinated. he was able to clarify the stratigraphie situation (Figs. 7 and 8). interpreted as showing gibbosit?s graisseuses (fatty protuberances) 129 and 133). upper portion of level D: Protomagdalenian to 30 cm long (terminal Gravettian) with blades up . within level F: Early Aurignacian with car?nate scrapers and typical bone and antler industry level E and the lower portion of level D: Gravettian (Upper P?rigordian) with numerous burins and Gravette points. R. he reconstructed the cultural stratigraphy as follows from bottom to top: base of level F: archaic Mousterian. 9. He was particularly (Photos. White). Dubalen's and de la Porterie's collections. No trace whatsoever of Aurignacian materials. Briefly.Women of Brassempouy 267 Fig.

Piette seems to have kept stratigraphically distinct assemblages separate at the time of excavation. level C: a series of Solutrean occupations. with Middle Solutrean (laurel-leaf points on the bottom) overlayn by Upper Solutrean (shouldered points) levels A and B: Middle Magdalenian (without harpoons) with forked base points and several animal engravings on bone fragments. who had replaced Lartet's 1860's. 10. Piette apparently undertook considerable mixing and in the years following (Delporte. (the young girl). matching It is noteworthy that Upper Paleolithic systematics in the 1890's were dom inated by the ideas of Gabriel de Mortillet (1883). It was (Photos. Three views of the ivory figurine found by Piette's collaborator Mascaraux that Piette named La Fillette during the 1894 excavations. faunal-based scheme with one based on typological evolution of lithic . One should not underestimate the difficulty of Delporte's task. White). R. in his struggle to come to terms with assemblage differences and existing archaeological systematics. However.268 White Fig. 1980).

R. Front and rear views of the ivory figurine fragment that Piette found in 1894 and to named La Figurine ? la ceinture (the belted figurine). and he cleaned the sediment off her himself. Fig.Women of Brassempouy 269 11. 12. Fig. . Piette struggled with the similarities Egyptian dolls and with her sexual attribution (Photos. R. Piette was troubled by her resemblance to Egyptian dolls (Photos. Although the object was found before his very eyes. Three views of the ivory figurine that Piette found in 1894 and named La Dame ? la capuche ou La Figurine ? la capuche (the hooded woman or the hooded figurine). White). White).

were based on close supervision of the excavations. Itwould not be until Breuil's (1912) revision that French prehistorians would insert the Au and Solutrean. 1893b). 13. 8). Solutrean (level C) and Protomagdalenian (level D) presence under lain by a Gravettian (Level E) industry (Gravette points. According the objects described in the original publications indicate aMagdalenian terms. (level A. Mousterian. he was making it up as he went of de Mortillet's along (Delporte. Three views Figurine of the ivory figurine fragment that Piette found in 1894 and named La ? la p?lerine (the caped figurine). It is not surprising then. Magdalenian. According ivory points) and an Aurignacian Piette's observations during his 1894 excavations which. which years later would be given separate status as today's archaeological cultures: Ch?telperronian. Middle and Up Aurignacian per). understandably. the rignacian between de Mortillet's Mousterian was recognized as having three sub-stages (Lower. as we have seen. bone and to (level F) one (Car?nate scrapers). he attributed the contents of these levels towhat he called the Ebumian (= ivory) industry. 1980) and new excavations to Delporte's reading. . Following Dubalen's lead (Dubalen. White). broadly a variant Solutrean but. 1987. De Mortillet's oldest to youngest: Acheulean.270 White Fig. Noailles burins. (Photos. 1968. 1996). R. struggled to come to terms with the contents of levels D through F. B). Aurignacian and Gravettian respectively. and even then. scheme identified the following industrial stages. Solutrean. excavating in the de Mortilletian pre Solutrean blindspot. from industries. based upon a re-analysis of Piette's collections (Delporte. that Piette. Delporte has constructed a credible new synthesis of the site. inmodern adjacent to Piette's trenches (Fig. all of the figurines were found in Gravettian level E.

R. discovered during the 1896 excavations the Grande Galerie (Photos. The statuette-bearing layer E was limited to that area of the Avenue bounded by limestone outcrops (Piette. Two views of Le Torse. "the cave appears to be empty of deposits. the sector known as outward to VAvenue. 1895b). 14. the cave itself did not yield female figurines to Piette and de laPorterie. this trench ran from the cave entry According a point about 5-6 m from the overhang (Fig. with one exception. 298) observation on the heels of the AFAS debacle that. White). In any event. Le Torse (the torso).Women of Brassempouy 271 Fig. in the frontal portion of STRATIGRAPHICAND ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT OF THE FIGURINES ACCORDING TO PIETTE Piette and de la Porterie's 1894 excavations at the grotte du Pape focused on the intact zones bordering on the sagittal trench left by the 1892 excursion. came from the the right-hand side (as viewed facing outward from the entrance) of the cave itself. an area of roughly 5 m by 5 m. Cartailhac's (1892. . to Piette's stratigraphy (Fig. La Poire and L'Ebauche. all of the figurines from Piette and de la Porterie's excavation of the grotte du Pape are from l'Avenue. 8). 7). but the talus extends out in front for a considerable distance" strongly implies that the cave entry proper had been emptied by the pre-1894 excavations. The two figurines discovered by the AFAS workmen. Apart from this piece. 8 and 20). recovered in 1896 from the frontal portion of the Grande Galerie (Figs. p.

Profile and top views of Le Torse (the torso). L'Ebauche de Mascaraux.272 White '#' Fig. 16. found by Mascaraux. from Piette. excavation. R. waisted ivory object from the 1894 collaborator of Piette and de la Porterie. showing ivory (Photos. (adapted . the internal structure of mammoth Fig. 15. an enigmatic. 1907). White). an occasional heavily worked.

1?A dagger handle representing a woman of the steatpygous race 2? A very small figurine of a non steatopygous woman with long hair 3? A woman's head adorned with an Egyptian wig 4? A fragment of a figurine similar to Egyptian dolls. are so Egyptian It would not be the first time that someone buried objects of with the greatest reservation. represent the only difference a man being that the author seems shawl to have sought to 5? A fragment of statuette with a cape or sort of hooded PIETTE'S CONCERNS ABOUT AUTHENTICITY Piette continues in the above letter by raising the issue of authenticity. 141). and wait to evaluate careful about the authenticity of this discovery until it had been confirmed by other such finds. age is weakening my vision. August 21. figurine-bearing.Women of Brassempouy 273 It is important to note that. and perhaps number 5. Gravettian. He then provides a revealing account of the 1894 results: Our excavation was productive. my experienced attention was not focused on this point. the similarities that we make them known only Numbers 3 and 4. The results are already excellent. some mammoth human statuette fragments. Monsieur rhinoceros teeth. 144) an indication of the extent to which he personally supervised the grotte du Pape excavations: If I haven't replied sooner to your benevolant letter. significance As for numbers the race 1 and 2. In a letter to Saint Germain director Alexandre Bertrand at the end of the 1894 excavation. There is and I am so no doubt in my mind that we observed no evidence of surface disturbance. 31 July. de la Porterie and I recovered more than 40 numerous awls and 5 some hyena mandibles. Finally. is confirmed. 1894. itmay be the case that. Therefore. with footless legs ending in a point. even if I do not yet even for reading. to be extremely of these statuettes. It is absolutely Egyptian. and the objects might have been buried for two years. in parts of l'Avenue. we have felt obliged which would have rendered almost invisible any traces. study of the site I was able to determine through a geological . according to Piette (Piette to Bertrand. its age and characteristics. it is because I received it at Brassempouy from 5 in the morning until 7 at night and because where Iwas occupied by the excavations at this even for an instant. at excavating that I am sure I would have seen it if it existed. MAN no. living side by side. wear eyeglasses. The existence of a steatopygous and another race. to Egyptian figurines were troubling to him. teeth. the stratum escaped the ravages of the AFAS excursion. as they were too inexperienced I could not leave my workmen kind of work to be left without supervision even momentarily. they are obviously authentic. and extremely short buttocks barely separated by a line. Consequently. 1894. MAN archive no. That said. the bottom of the AFAS trench adjacent to the find spots of his figurines. a different age in a prehistoric site in order that they be found by an excavator. Piette provides (Piette to Bertrand. did not descend as far as Level E (that in which the 1894 sculptures were found).

141). MAN Archive no. which resembles an Egyptian doll and is even more Egyptian than the head wiuth the wig. 143) when he evaluated the state of of the ivory of the figurines against that of the ivory otherwise found preservation the site. He shows us the classic problem of the archaeologist confronted by formal similarities across broad spans of space or time: independent invention? historical relationship? or stratigraphie intrusion? There of the statuettes that I found at Brassempouy. it is equivalent to ary and previously unobserved phenomenon. But the figurine with pointed legs and short buttocks. 1894. The various states of preservation of the figurines matched states of preservation of non figurine ivory11 from the site: nicely the we find ivory in three different states. sediments. both of which are certainly authentic. The ivory in ashy sediments. seeks to confirm. he had observed different states in large quantities in the site. It is blackish with a granular surface and delaminates into fireplaces. that or procedural flaws. easily. the the other statuettes in ashy sediments. as a scientist with the evaluation of a revolution informative of his struggle I do not wish to focus In some ways. a physicist or a mathematician who. and less white than the ivory of the head with the wig is less decomposed Consequently. breaking It is white but delaminates there is splinters. Nonetheless. made with four strokes of a flint tool. unanticipated on the issue of authenticity for. delaminating ivory like most of the mammoth the site so too does the head with the wig. Within of preservation according to the precise nature of the sediments in which it was different found. This discovery is so disturbance related to the introduction and so unusual that we seek to confirm it. It is yellowish the ivory found in ocre stained marlacious not subject to laminar separation. and a small figurine carved in a stick of ivoiy. head of Isis in ocre stained marlacious sediments. I recovered the steatopygous women from a fireplace. 111nhis analysis. as we shall see Piette's writings are very below. to send you the photographs I am pleased is the trunk of a fat woman which had served as a dagger handle. some doubts. again and again.1894 (Piette to Bertrand. The ivory in poorly developed At Brassempouy. on August 21.274 White The problem of authenticity was still bothering Piette a few days later (Piette to Bertrand. is in ivories. cannot believes his eyes. Piette seems to have resolved with certainty the authenticity of at least two of the figurines. Weeks later. MAN no. 4 August. tusk. easily. and quite compact. no sediment that I express It is only out of prudence since I observed of the objects into the site. there is little remaining doubt. having made a revolutionary experimental observation. In Piette's case. that of the other statuettes. prudence and there were no methodological intensified by the extraordinary events surround scepticism were undoubtedly the AFAS excursion of 1892 and the toxic nature of his relationship with ing Cartailhac. Finally. but was still troubled by those with Egyptian affinities. Piette seems unaware of the important structural differences within a single mammoth . and if she truly comes from white.

and those figurine was found in front of my eyes. aware of the statuette layer. 2) those found by Piette in his 1894 excavations (Figs. 9-13) in the . and those of Monsieur Mascaraux. prudent not to accept it in any definitive way until it has been confirmed by other such discoveries. this de la Porterie. this respond to anatomical reality. such is the novelty of such a discovery. And so. But how is it possible convention. but the technique for making struck to find it identically on our figurine and on Egyptian dolls. flint instruments techniques as those from Solutr?. The buttocks are very short. I don't of Monsieur de la Porterie and myself at the It would bottom was slightly above the require that those responsible were think anyone was aware of it before the work site. trench whose The figurine resembling the bottom of an Egyptian doll due to its pointed legs. Do these two latter figurines really come from the seems highly improbable. site or were they put there fraudulently? This latter hypothesis With regard to the wigged head. separated by a short. A limestone plaquette that covered the ashy sediment containing the figurine was removed with a pick at my request. Is it possible that the head was by there was a trench dug by the workmen introduced laterally through the wall of the statuette layer? This is highly improbable. There are African peoples who. which Here is the entry Imade inmy notebook was before my very eyes. Egypt is not the only country where footless figurines with pointed the rear-end is so odd that one is legs have been found. And I too see the layer as intact. penetrating through the sequence of layers that overlay it. could last thousands and thousands of years? It's hard to believe. Why couldn't better of which there have been other peoples who wore them thousands of years prior? The ivory it was created is better preserved than that of figurines found in ashy layers. with an Egyptian wig. The into fireplace which was 0m40 above was intact. is a much more troubling case. This was done out of style and does not cor that this way of doing things. This state of preservation is due to the absence of ash. These latter have written tome that the layer was unquestionably intact and that my reservations should be set aside. the conse and I think it only quences are such that I cannot reveal it without expressing reservations. which was found in an ocre-stained marlish clay sediment. immediately after having washed this head. One There are two or perhaps three statuettes which are uncontestably Egyptian of them is the head of a woman of Mongoloid type. And yet. like those of Egyptian dolls. But close of the AFAS. The other is the lower portion of a figurine wearing a belt without buckle and with footless legs that end in a point. reindeer. she has taken on a yellow hue from the surrounding sediment. still wear the wigs used in the time of the Pharoahs. However. Head of statuette at 2m40 from the cave entrance at 2m80 from the ground surface flaked by the same red deer. deer. Canadian at 0m40 beneath a fireplace containing ivory lamina. after thousands of years.Women of Brassempouy 275 in nature. of Monsieur THE FIGURINES THEMSELVES The figurines from Brassempouy (Table I) can be considered in three sub sets: 1) those found before and during the 1892 excursion in the entry of the grotte du Pape itself. shallow line. thus the head was not introduced the site from above. adjacent to this head were aurochs.

9 cm c. recovered before 1892 by de la Porterie in 1892 (Fig. known as the Ebauche de poup?e (Fig.276 Avenue White lateral to the AFAS trench. and 4. 1907).5 cm 4. 14 and 15) in the frontal portion of the Grande Galerie. including an enigmatic ivory object (Fig. Three unprovenienced ivory pendants (Fig. He considered this piece to be a human representation in a bone cradle which he labelled accordingly le Berceau close microscopic reveals it to be examination (the cradle). 5-5) Dufour. I include one additional object from Piette's excavations. 4. However.6 cm 5.0 cm 1892 (AFAS) 1892 (Dubalen) MAN MAN 1892 (AFAS) 1894 (Piette) 1894 (Piette) 1894 (Piette) 1894 (Piette) 1894 (Piette) 1896 (Piette) 1894? (Piette) 1894 (Piette) . provoked by Paleolithic female figures he seems nearly obsessed by two questions: racial differences within the collection In none of Piette's of figurines and the resemblance of some of them to African populations. 16) in the Avenue by Mascaraux from the 1894 excavation which was discovered that found during Piette's 1896 excavations (Piette.3 cm 4. 5-6) and a sculpted "flower bud" (Fig. A I exclude other poorly provenienced or doubtful objects including : and may not even be an anthropomorphic strange bone object found by Delporte (Delporte. although it iswith out spatial or stratigraphie provenience figure. Rather. 1. An ivory "ring" found by the AFAS workmen PIETTE'S IDEAS: THE PREEMINENCE OF RACE AND THE LINKWITH AFRICA ruminations on the figurines is there the slightest hint that were related to fertility or any of the other preoccupations of interpretations in the latter half of the 20th century. Finally.6 cm 16.3 cm 7. 25). A spatulate object (Fig. 5-4). more than a heavily carnivore-gnawed bone.7 cm 9. 1993a) in his ex cavations distal to the Avenue. 5-7) sometimes referred to as theNavette.6 cm 6.5 cm 3. nothing 2. The Brassempouy Acquisition MAN MAN MAN MAN MAN MAN MAN MAN MAN Figurines no Discussed and Illustrated Here dimension Year and excavator Object L'Ebauche La Poire Le Fragment La Dame ? Le Manche La Figurine La Figurine La Fillette Le Torse L'Ebauche L'Ebauche de poup?e Mascaraux Maximum 47 022 47 333 56 424 47 019 47 260 47 077 47 136 47 335a 47 334 47 335b 56 424 la capuche de poignard ? la ceinture ? la p?lerine 7. 3) (Figs. layer in the according to Piette (1897) was recovered from aMagdalenian Grande Galerie in 1896. 3.8 cm 4. 5-3. Table I. which. 5-1.

But their works. and skeletal reconstructions. They were profound realists. The few. more civilized than the other. but which of a sense of they probably copied faithfully from nature. Osteology is powerless never have had knowledge of them if humans of the glyptic period had not practised the in engraving and sculpture. The sculptors who depicted the old fat-hipped race never failed to show the sexual organs even if they were not visible when the woman was standing. a mons venus which seems unduly swollen. are not entirely satisfying to know in great detail the contours of the flesh. the slenderness of the buttocks and the lack of projecting hips. held in place by fibrous tissue. Physical have long been concerned anthropologists and wisdom the rare bones found in with them. The artists who represented them exaggerated the abdominal flattening. 129-130) of the Brassempouy figurines. 1895a. to those who have not made anatomy their specialty. It is worth keeping in mind that the text presented below was written before Piette was aware of the figurine sample from Grimaldi where. even more than at Brassempouy. there can be no doubt about the analogy with Bushman women. 11 January. 1am going to discuss with readers of L'Anthropologie the human races that lived in the south of France during the glyptic period. an enormous descending abdomen. this rudimentary clothing seems to have served capes. In this regard. Piette makes his position clear: they should be read literally as realistic depictions of human anatomy. and this could have been out of hatred for the other race which at that time must have been a conquered people. Piette wrote a long and richly detailed letter to Salomon Reinach (Piette to Reinach. Nonetheless. belts and styled hair. 1895. fatty protuberances. prominent hips and. had flat abdomens. This race. We can therefore have animals with such truth that one immediately recognizes faith in their statuettes. and hips body hair. and we would the nature of the hair system. and buttocks lacking the fatty outgrowths. The authors of the images of women them only with depicted of the hairless race were careful to avoid this inaccuracy. 1996). wore hooded shawls. MAN no. 1998. They are not works of imagination but rather copies of reality. which also accounts for the abundant hips and a sort of calf on the front of the thighs. They have studied with great knowledge archaeological layers preserved in caves. The other race was without somewhat slender thighs. . of fibro-fatty deposits and latter wish to show these things. This race was also as hairy as Esau. What one with troubles me is that there were two human races during the Eburnien. This is perhaps the expression did not yet wear the loin cloths as modesty which began to appear even though women would the later Egyptians. Their art was themselves plastic arts and thereby represented very faithful to nature. The enormous size of the abdomen was a result of concentrated fat deposits. only for decoration. Bushman. because on my statuettes the rear portion of the bodies is broken. This latter was not muscle. It was not me who invented this It has been employed for a long time in anthropological science to refer to expression. African women would be implicated (White and Bisson. ample thighs. probably. as good as they are. only give an even ifmeaningful to those knowledgable idea of the skeleton. Roughly six months after the close of the 1894 excavations. They rendered forms and postures of the species. buttocks that were correspondingly imposing. 135) inwhich he puzzled over themorphology of the Brassempouy figurines. 1 do not wish to characterize the hirsute race with the word steatopygous. They This said. Ouolov and Somali women.Women of Brassempouy 277 In the introduction to his first publication (Piette. pp. Bisson andWhite.

in an unexpected way. At the same time. on the shores of the Red Sea. I quote Piette fifteen months later (Piette to Reinach." the of which . It must be admitted that in this regard they showed great genius. You must by now understand my hesitation to apply the name Eburnian to this race. 12 Author's publication note: this is the yellow steatite statuette from Grimaldi. 1898). the hypothesis of anthropologists. Poire). is probably the more recent of the two. (emphasis original). to whom the appelation might well have been better suited? Here is why I proposed to you that we call one steatopygous and the other asteatogenous. born in Australia. 1896. The hips are well developed the breasts are more pear-shaped enormous. MAN Finally. a German author claimed that the Bushman in race. which has always been viewed as one of the oldest human remains of the Quaternary period. this jaw found in Belgium shows us how great was the geographic extent of this race for which today we know variants from the Somal. anthropologists have considered race with fatty protuberances the Bushman the Quaternary is so similar. The most remarkable kind of hair treatment was that similar to the Egyptian in wig. The statuettes have revealed tome the ancient existence of a fat race related to the Bushman race but nonetheless very different. are no more exaggerated today. near the Cape. At the same time. The fatty masses them and but find their equivalent covering than in some women continuing onto the buttocks. The race with fatty protuberances is that of Chellean and Mousterian times rather than of Upper Paleolithic times [author's note: Piette coined the term glyptic and the hairless race period to refer to the art-bearing cultures of the Upper Paleolithic]. She is much less fat. to which to apes. her thighs are slender. 14 and 15) in the summer of 1896. the hair arrangements on certain archaic Greek statues. to race. 129). would appear in 1898 (Reinach.278 White race had there not been two races during the I would gladly retain the term Eburnian Eburnian period. resembling a striking way. and the smoothly receding chin is identical to the jaw of La Naulette. with a kind of "French braid. in ancient Greek statuettes. 168): The woman represented does not belong to the same race as the V?nus de Brassempouy {La the abdomen is not voluminous. While than cylindrical. 5 April." jaw with the Mas d'Azil race with fatty protuberances statuette proves that the Quaternary goes back to the most ancient appearance of humans in our regions. For a long time. The discovery of Eburnian be the oldest known race: and Cuvier found similarities statuettes has just confirmed. p. It is true that a statuette in horse-tooth that I found at Mas d'Azil has preserved for us the facial details of this ancient race. that this is perfectly When Piette and de la Porterie discovered Le Torse (Figs. the linking of the La Naulette of "eastern mirage. In your article on the Menton that the end of Quaternary times was not as far statuette12 you have suggested removed as we had believed from the first centuries of Aegian civilization. she was easily integrated into Piette's racial explanation for figurine variation (Piette and de la Porterie. His thesis perhaps contains a lot In any case. I do not know on what he bases this idea. at the fringes of the empire of the Pharoahs and in the south of Southern Africa. after the excavations of L'Avenue had been completed during the 1895 season. and if I gave them this name what would I call the hairless race. In a publication that appeared a few months ago. expanded from there throughout the entire world ancient times. You can be sure true. they have informed me about the that they knew rudimentary clothing sometimes worn by this race and about the hairstyles how to vary. archive no. 1897. You have indicated a way of arranging the hair at the nape of the neck.

Upon her death in 1816. Dlustrated handbill of Sartje Baartman. original in British Museum). the so-called Hottentot Venus. she would be dis during her European sected by Cuvier. tour of 1810-16. Fig. . who would subsequently publish a report on the anatomical basis of steatopygia in African women (Cuvier. 1817) (drawn by Frederick Christian Lewis.Women of Brassempouy SARTL?E? THE! HOTTONTOT VENUS* 17.

As early as 1894. Dordogne at Laussel An inscription at the base reads Negroide in the Dordogne. was discovered ? la corne (Woman with the horn). 18. he would even go so far as to interpret theFemme au renne from theMagdalenian of as the result of a hybridization between the two races elaborated Laugerie-Basse in such detail above (Piette. If one thing is clear it is that Piette's first instinct as a scientist was to try to account for formal variation among the Brassempouy figurines. He dealt with figurine variation in the idiom of his day. 1894a. (Photo. p. and would subsequently be applied . 1894b) would endure long after his death. 21). Louis Mascr?'s in 1911 in limestone. The original. a bas-relief de Laussel. anonymous).280 White in clay of prehistorian Aim? Rutot's vision of the Femme 1914 realization Flg. His literal reading of the figurines as racial types (Piette.

" This passion for the subject probably my explains why. MAN no. he pursued the acquisition of the the collection . 1947. In September. would not be abandoned (cf. Gvozdover.Women of Brassempouy 281 Fig. 1894. White. 1916. 1981). 1924) until late in the inter-war period and this very problem of documenting and explaining figurine variation remains a subject of debate today (Duhard. he wrote to Reinach (Piette to Reinach. Erected the Femme sculpted by Constant Roux on the facade of the Institut de Pal?ontologie in 1923 under the supervision of the Abb? Breuil. courtesy M-A Dobres). Rice. often making explicit reference to the long dead Sartje Baartman. 138). Racial approaches. 1993b. occasional skeptics would begin to emerge (Deonna. "I hope that new site will be one with statuettes. By the time of World War I however. it shows a San man ? la come from Laussei (Photo. 11 September. PIETTE ACQUIRES THE GRIMALDI FIGURINES: NOMENCLATURE. Verneau. ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION Piette was truly fascinated by the female figurines. 1894. 1989. 19. on the eve of a tour of the Pyrenees in search of new sites to excavate. 1913) but 1995) would competing interpretive frames (Saccasyn della Santa. 1993a. not take root until mid-century. Humaine sculpting Part of the frieze in Paris. by Gaston Laianne (1913) to the bas-reliefs from Laussel. sometime in 1898.

2003b). Itwas in fact the com memmorations surrounding the 100th anniversary of her death (Verneau. According to him. Archive L?on Pales. she was also the most "Bushman" of the figurines. al as La V?nus though on occasion Piette referred to La Poire from Brassempouy de Brassempouy. it evoked the V?nus hottentote. Piette already knew of other Grimaldi figurines (Jullien to Piette. those that would ultimately be taken toMontreal. As I have argued elsewhere (White. 1896. by a collector ignorant of their provenience. at the time of Piette's death in 1906. In the early 1990's I indicated the existence of these additional figurines toMichael Bisson of McGill University. shown to him for evaluation Grimaldi and Bisson. that would spawn the subsequent application of the term Venus to the most robust of Paleolithic figurines. another of the Grimaldi figurines As early as 1896. is peripheral to the present paper. We do know that by December 4. June 20. wth an accompanying focus on exotic aspects of female sexual anatomy. Until well after World War I. as well as clothing and hair styles. Issues of beauty . For present purposes. no Paleolithic figurines found since the V?nus impudique had been referred to as Venuses. in yellow steatite) en steatite jaune (the woman La T?te negroide (the negroid head) Le Polichinelle (the jester) Le Losenge (the losange) (the hermaphrodite) L'Hermaphrodite La Femme au goitre (the woman with the goiter) La Statuette in?dite (the unpublished statuette) It is noteworthy that. Rather. the newly acquired figurines were confided to Saint Germain technician Beno?t Champion and to the young abb? Breuil in order that they be drawn. Piette purchased from Jullien's son. but Piette's description and nomenclature of these additional figurines continues his focus on racial types. the year in which the first of these was acquired by Reinach It is for the mus?e des Antiquit?s nationales at Saint Germain-en-Laye. race dominated figurine interpretation. during Piette appears to have became aware of the Burma Grande and Grotte du Prince figurines in 1896. 1972). he knew exactly what he was looking at when in 1993 they were Consequently. Pales. La Femme 1998).282 White Jullien at Barme Grande of figurines from Grimaldi found by Louis-Alexandre excavations in 1883-85 and at the grotte du Prince in 1892-95. 1902. a see White summary of the figurine names will suffice (For detailed descriptions. African affiliations. unclear at exactly what point Piette purchased part of Jullien's collection. In 1903. Piette's use of the term Venus had nothing to do with theMarquis de Vibraye's classical use of the term 35 years earlier. 1916) and the African frenzy during the belle ?poque. Canada by Jullien. ever-present in the French popular imagination and in physical anthropological circles.

One biases current at the beginning between the cannot help but be struck by the recurrent theme of hierarchical relationships different human groups represented. the absence of change or invasion explained of the Tasmanians by Europeans. a hierarchy that seems to lead naturally to slavery. such as the recent extinction In the end. dis in 1911. Gilman (1994). no osteological or morphological seems to have been fulfilling the racial prophecy of the figurines. represented as racially African. p. This dynamic view of prehistory was in invasions of people of a different race vogue at the beginning of the century and war-like were willingly called in to play to explain cultural changes.. Likewise. 124) describe them as vehicles this is a discourse for colonialist ideology: view of human evolution reveals Under cover of scientific objectivity. fauna and flora. In their discussion of Rutot and subjugation (see Fauvelle-Aymar. (1989). Figurines were portraiture.Women of Brassempouy 283 and fertility were rarely if ever raised. The African connection was not some kind of exaggerated ethnographic analogy. She was Venus. in the light of the politically instable context on It is impossible not to see such conceptions the eve of the First World War and the reasoning of the great colonial empires.. anatomically correct as to body proportions. which in turn re flected the deep-seated 19th century preoccupation with race in taxonomic practice (Lindfors. 2002). the same race. the result would be La n?gro?de de Laus sel (Fig.. Early Europeans and early Africans were the same people. Under his supervision. He tons as racially Negro has. disappear due to climatic changes or invasions by other races. exploitation and 1999. They showed the sculptor of the Femme ? la corne from Laussel covered as a San man (Fig. race. but in the "Hottentot" sense of the term. A view that saw the last of our primitive ancestors still in our midst was justification for domination. Verneau's (1924) interpretation of the Grimaldi skele basis. Brantlinger (1985). but could just as easily primitive. 1996). Mascr?'s models. The notion scientific discourse.13 This would continue long after Piette's death. Cro-Magnons. alongside and dominated by the more slender. The Belgian prehistorian Rutot would commission the sculptor Louis Mascr? to depict the women of Laussel. 19). The brutality and dominating always population movements. were achieved under the direct guidance of the abb? Breuil. Comaroff context. less hirsute. living deeply embedded in colonialist attitudes at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Rutot and Mascr?'s a certain number of ideological of the 20th century. 13To further explore is referred toWiss Stocking (1987). Stepan the reader (1982) and . this relationship between evolution. the friezes on the fa?ade of the Institut de Pal?ontologie Humaine inParis. 18). the persistance up to the present of racial types considered to be primitive. Certain women of Grimaldi and Laussel. sex and the colonial (1985). inaugurated in 1920. in the process of spirit of human species was embodied seen as invasions. They almost cer realistic and anthropologically the expectations of physical anthropologists conditioned studying Pale tainly olithic human skeletons. and had. Hauzeur and Mairesse (2003. More or less of numerous races dominated of a humanity composed these races adapted to the environment.

two of them were excluded from the purchase by Ales Hrdlicka because turn-of-the century white Americans would not accept blacks as ancestors. as much as it served American as a non-ancestral side branch leading to a manifest destiny of extinction. spatial data on artifacts from the grotte du Pape do not meet modern standards. It probably served French colonial purposes to see African peoples as interests to see Africans evolutionary holdovers. The N?gro?de de Laussel and the Negroid de the latter represented as the sculptor of the Venus of Willendorf. The Spatial Distribution of the Brassempouy Figurines It is surprising to see published laments about the absence of spatial infor mation concerning the Brassempouy figurines. Citing the Rutot archives in Brussels. Obviously. The application of authenticity these criteria to the Brassempouy figurines. 20). having found success in a 1920's Paris enthralled with representations of the African primitive. Hauzeur and Mairesse (2003) state that when the Rutot and Mascr?s modelled figures were acquired by the San Diego Museum. If it were possible for Europeans to imagine African ancestors. with the fireplaces observed by Piette in level E. is reminiscent of Josephine Baker who. were Menton. microscopic and technological exami nation of the Brassempouy figures. The Question of Authenticity I have outlined the criteria that can be applied to evaluate the Elsewhere. 2003a). excluded. Piette was quite detailed in this regard (Table II) allowing an approximate mapping of their relative and absolute locations (Fig. Here I provide a few of the results that resolve some of the old questions raised by Piette as well as some posed by modern researchers. in combination with the detailed obser . It is nonetheless useful to have an idea of the relative positions of the figurines themselves and their spatial association. I was able to undertake a detailed archival. racist tendancies in the US prevented such a view. for example. In fact. of poorly provenienced figurines (White.284 White It is interesting to see how the transfer of these deeply European questions of representation to the American context took a completely different turn. This A NEW AND CLOSER LOOK AT THE BRASSEMPOUY PIECES: NEW METHODS APPLIED TO OLD QUESTIONS In the context of an ambitious study of European Gravettian female figurines. was forced to use the service elevator at the Plaza Hotel in New York upon her return to America.

All figurines are inmammoth-ivory according to theWorld Wildlife criteria (Espinoza and Mann. 2m40 from the cave entry left-hand side of L'Avenue side of L'Avenue near the cave entrance right-hand side of L'Avenue). 2. leave almost no doubt about their Upper Paleolithic the observations in favor of authenticity are the following: provenience. 1898). The approximate find locations of the Brassempouy figurines Piette (1892. 1895b. 1907) and Piette and de la Porterie given by . unknown l'Avenue facing out from the aPiette (1895b. 1. 20. cave entrance. La Figurine i la p?lerine 8. Figurine L'Ebauche La Poire Le Fragment La Dame ? la capuche Le Manche de poignard La Figurine ? la ceinture La Figurine ? la p?lerine La Fillette Le Torse L'Ebauche L'Ebauche de poup?e Mascaraux side of the cave right-hand side of the cave. 1895a. location of 1892 AFAS trench after the indications (1894b. 134) is very clear that right and left are to be read as if one were Among vations of Piette. Fund 1. 1897. 1992). Locations to Published Descriptions of Brassempouy Figurines According 1895b. La Dame a la capuche 5. La Figurine ? la ceintura 7. Le Hanche de poignard 6. 1907) and Piette and de la Porterie (1897) Location3 ( 1895a.Women of Brassempouy 285 by Piette Table II. L'Ebauche ?LaFiltett? 4. All figurines bear significant stigmata of stone tools. Le Torse Today's protective fence (Ceve entrance) Approximate Fig. p. near the cave entrance right-hand near the cave entrance left-hand side of L'Avenue about 12 m from the entry Grande Galerie. La Poire 2. near its eastern wall right-hand either in cave entry or in the AFAS trench in the Avenue left-hand side of L'Avenue.

6. 3. While none of them stands out as aberrant against the background quite original. found much later. She is sculpted in the hard. . Manche de poignard) 4. The techniques used in sculpting are precisely those found on other as semblages of Gravettian figurines. 5. and that all of those from Grimaldi are also fakes. such as those from Kostienki.286 White to show tool-stigmata illuminated (6 x ). of known Gravettian figurines. central core of the tusk where the laminate structure of the ivory is poorly developed (Photo. R. The claim by Niedhorn (1990) that all but two of the Brassempouy figurines are recent fakes. Right: Flg. has no credibil ity. Avdeevo and Gagarino on the Russian Plain. It is difficult to imagine who could have faked Gravettian female figurines before the advent of archaeological knowledge of the very existence of such objects. 21. is the form of certain figurines (Ebauche. This author did not examine the originals. Left: The face of the Dame ? la capuche detail of the center of the forehead with absolutely typical stone burin-tracks (18 x ). 1995). White). had no experience with Paleolithic tools and did not consult archival sources. All figurines retain residues of sedimentary matrix and accasionally of ocrous staining (Walter.

Kostienki. Delporte's observation that the "hair" was created by a series of vertical incisions that were subsequently cross-cut by a series of horizontals. These tool traces (Figs. Milandes. My own technical analysis confirms certain aspects of a previous examination of theDame ? la capuche using amagnifying glass (Delporte. 1980). including those from the These latter are perfectly consistant with the range of techniques which (experimentally verified) are also observable on figurines than 100 grotte du Pape. Malt'a. Gagarino. scraping.27-30. Burin tracks are frequently observable. incising. Tursac. 21-25. Note the border between at the bottom of which the neck and "hair" created by a deep vertical depression. For example. 22. abrading entirely consistant with the use of various flint tools and mineral abrasives. White). R. pecking. is a classic stone burin-track (6 x ). However. and polishing. but this tool seems generally to have intervened relatively late in the fabrication process in order to create detail on an already shaped support. Right: Profile showing natural fissure along a structural line within the ivory and.Women of Brassempouy 287 Fig. Avdeevo. gouging. and are hacking. Laussel. scrape-marks A Diversity of Gestures and Techniques more I have undertaken a detailed microscopic examination of Gravettian anthropomorphic figurines. at bottom of cheek. the stigmata of from Grimaldi.34. Sireuil. include pazier and Lespugue. we can go . partially smoothed-over (6 x ) (Photo. Left The highly polished chin and neck of the Dame ? la capuche. Mon and 35).

back of the figurine to the nerve canal. I had observed14 that the support pieces for the figurines (with a few exceptions) were systematically oriented in the same way in relation to the tusk. the figurines from Brassempouy were extracted in every which way: horizontally. Right: Highly magnified horizontals that of the dame ? la capuche showing V-bottomed detail of hair/head-covering cross-cut U-profile verticals with clear stigmata of the "bar-code" left by full-on application of surfaces of the grid elements the burin-bevel. Confirming the opinion of my dear colleague. much shallower V-profile horizontals (18 x )." that is. Also visible are the highly polished (Photo. In contrast. 23. ." resulting in a V-profile blade incision. with the application of the full front of the burin-bevel. creating an incision with a broad In contrast. A Curious Exploitation of the Ivory Structure: Breakage During Fabrication where I studied the Brassempouy figurines after those from the Russian Plain sites. vertical inci Fig.288 White of the Dame ? la capuche. or by the application of a burin in "graving mode. legs toward the distal end. the horizontals were created either by the edge of a flint U-profile. even farther in noting that the verticals were creating by the application of a burin in what I have called elsewhere (White. the late Marianne Govozdover. White). R. 1982) "scraping mode. front to the tusk exterior. obliquely. Details of the hair/head-covering sions cross-cut by later. head toward the proximal end of the tusk. Left: Deep.

such as soft stone. In other words we are seeing the hand of someone skilled at sculpting but with little . consideration. White).. The upper extremity of the back-crease of Le Torse.Women of Brassempouy 289 . R.."':" %?fy ? # Sm??? Kg. These are partially removed by the imprints of the trihedral corner of a flint burin. 24. probably multiple which apparently served to deepen the back-crease (Photo. passes of a flint point. that lacked such a highly developed internal grain. The structure of the ivory seems not to have been taken into longitudinally. Itwas as if the sculptor/sculptress was habituated to sculpting other materials. At roughly 90 degrees to this crease are a series of hacking marks from the initial roughing out of the form of the figurine.

define the head. This further implies that the sculptors) was working with partially dessicated tusks.290 White tool traces that. Macro and micro views of the Ebauche de Poup?e showing significant the piece is interpreted as an anthropomorphic figure. The consequences sample: virtually all the pieces were broken during fabrication. R. It is not clear whether he ever tried to refit them as is. an opportunity . The first of these is embodied in the re-fitting of two of the figurines (the Figurine ? la p?lerine and the Figurine ? la ceinture\ previously considered by most researchers to be independent objects. are obvious within the Brassempouy experience with ivory. In case the reader is skeptical. interfaces are not points of weakness. chest and abdomen (Photo. these laminar binding the lamina together had been compromised. where the collagen In fresh tusks. I provide two remarkable examples. White). if Flg. However. Breuil had astutely seen that their forms were such that the two might conjoin ifwe had the missing intervening fragments. 25.

Women of Brassempouy 291 JL7-1 "?''1 ?> and the Figurine ? la Ceinture. 27. found together on the right side of the avenue (Fig. The result was The two figurines. 26. Views (18 x Dame and 40 x ) of the burin-tracks on the fracture surface of the ? la Capuche (Photo. that was given stunning. R. The strange refitting of the Figurine ? la P?lerine the slight gap results either nom a very thin. 19). Fig. White). White). At right. although there may be Fig. missing lamina or from subtle chemical solution. R. share a common fracture surface along a laminar interface. (Photo. . to me by the curators at Saint Germain-en-Laye.

26) makes no morphological surface structures (the belt for example) mesh very cleanly... They re-fit nicely. even if the margins of the fracture surface are slightly smoothed by very subtle chemical solution. showing fracture coarse unrelated traces of to the a very thin lamina missing. the result (Fig.292 White F?g. even if certain re-fitted. However. scraping breakage The lower extermity of the leg of La Poire. one with the other. is a prehistoric (6 x ). when sense . Each fragment . 28. there is only one solution to this enigma. This first figurine was quite far along when it broke into at least two pieces along a laminar boundary. For me. The sculptor began to sculpt a figurine out of partly dessicated ivory. The inferior margin during excavation.

29. or tab. 1997a). with the piece in hand. each to be sculpted in its own right. I interpret this of the points of weakness piece as an attempt that failed due to a mis-estimation at laminar interfaces. White) at 6 x ). 27). it is difficult to imagine how the fracture surface that runs along only a part of her posterior in profile view. unbroken and intact. In sum. that apparently served as a finger hold for the sculptor. In simple terms. In actual fact. after having studied Gagarino. in the wake of my own experience with ivory-working. that she minuscule head had a corresponding body. Right: The pubic area of La Fillette (Photos. Center: beveling of this surface by scraping. In the case of the Figurine ? la p?lerine the portion above the "belt" was apparently carried away by a subsequent was (but prehistoric) transverse fracture. Moreover. an attempt had apparently been made to recover by re-working the . it attests to a piece broken during sculpting. perhaps following additional breakage events. I wondered whether the small fracture surface might simply have been an accident during the sculpting of a self-standing head.Women of Brassempouy 293 Fig. in other words. With this inmind. actually two figurines in the course of being sculpted. a kind of surface might have connected head to body. Since her discovery. An attempt was made to salvage the two fragments but my guess is that these were abandoned. A V-profile The back of the head of La Fillette showing no evidence of lines representing hair. after surface the fracture. In other words. The fact that the fracture surface remained intact may suggest that one or both of the "new" supports was abandoned before completion. R. I turned on the fracture surface itself and immediately observed that its my microscope bore the distinctive marks of stone burins (Fig. A second example is more dramatic because it concerns the Dame ? la that this there has been a general assumption capuche. vertically oriented tool-marks from the incision provides the impression of the neck. (all magnifications subsequently reappropriated. This projec inferior projection tion resembles a similar feature on the "double statuette" from Gagarino (White. can be clearly seen. Seeing all of this. was a fragment of a broken figurine. Left: The chest of Lu Fillette with slightly undulating.

served as Both of these examples imply that the Avenue at Brassempouy a kind of atelier for ivory-sculpting. My guess is that too much material had been lost and the piece was abandoned or "used" as is. White). (Photo R. Both top and bottom figures show the same angled chest shelf that one sees on La Fillette. The so-called "double statuette'* from Gagarino unfinished statuettes in the course of being sculpted on a single ivory rod.294 White I m P?v in Russia. which is in fact two Flg. We are left mostly with pieces broken . 30. fracture itself.

Women of Brassempouy 295 Fig. soft stone. 30 and 31). is an unfin ished figurine. it is possible that even she was unfinished or broken during sculpting. Without close examination. as does the approach to disengaging the chest from the neck (Fig. the surface of her right it is diffi leg shows extremely coarse working stigmata (Fig. like the Gagarino . before being broken again by Dubalen's workmen. (Photos R. La Fillette may have been unfinished as well. rough-outs. This creation of a sloping shelf was frequently used in early stages of figurine shaping in order to create an appropriate volume for the detailed sculpting of the breasts and pregnant abdomen. Although cult to be sure because of her incompleteness. for example fresh ivory. broken at the waist before the lower extremities could be finished. Others. antler or wood. 29) argues against this. This raises the possibility that. makers. 29) which is seen in other Gravettian ivory figurines such as the unfinished women on the "double statuette" from Gagarino (Figs. A clearly defined pubic triangle (Fig. 31. There seems little doubt that L'Ebauche. bone. if they existed. may have been carried away by their The mis-estimation of the ivory structure may suggest sculpting by some one used to sculpting in other materials where laminar breakage grain is less problematical. The pubic triangle and scraping on the angled chest shelf on the least finished of the Gagarino to La Fillette. White). itmight be imagined that La Fil?ete is either male or ambiguous. showing very specific similarities during fabrication. 28). as Piette himself saw. Although parts of La Poire are very finely worked.

Men or Women? that many Among others. Chollot (1964). In some cases. 32. the question simply cannot be answered because relevant morphology is absent or ambiguous. Even fragments of broken figurines can end up in such pits. Defining what is a "finished" statuette is tricky business and may involve the imposition of our own standards of finishing. impossible (18 x ). La Fillette is in fact a small. (Photo rough-outs. The broken pubic area of l'Ebauche leaving sexual determination R. It ismy opinion however. being nothing more than the natural texture of the ivory. In some cases. 1895b). Duhard (1993a) and Dobres (1992) have raised the question as to the sex of the humans represented in the Brassempouy sample. Under the microscope. for example L'Ebauche (Fig.296 White Fig. . 32). inauspicious breakage has occurred. unfinished figurine that was destined to the long hair on her back that represent an adult woman. which I doubt was being sculpted 12 m deep inside the Grande Galerie. was seen by Piette is unconvincing. White). Piette (1895a. I have previously observed of the figurines interred in ritualized pits in Russian Plain sites retain significant production scarring and sometimes have the appearance of rough-outs. At Brassempouy there is no indication of such ritualized placement of the figurines with the possible exception of Le Torse.

White). 33. evidence . This is quite strong in favor of a female attribution of this figurine (Photo. The highly polished mons venus of the Figurine ? la ceinture viewed from above and to die right The impression of an out-of-focus vaginal slit is confirmed by higher magnification in image at right (18 x ). R.Women of Brassempouy 297 Fcr >"' H i?i Fig.

At right. the labia minora are perfectly represented. Between as the so-called apron in the Hottentots. although I suppose that even she is open to honest debate.. Note the deep. White). 6). Deep comer gouges overhung by deep brows create a play of light and shadow that gives the impression of eyes (6 x ) (Photo? R. a pronounced mons venus (Fig. women are represented. scrape-marks . vertical tool gouges that descend to define the contours of the nose. One can say little more about her vulvar anatomy and there is absolutely no justification for Adrien de Mortillet's (1894) detailed observation that. isrelevant to a sexual determination of some of the other statuettes. R. Itmay seem strange to begin this discussion with La Poire. Russia. Fig. In spite of the absence of such sexual anatomy. that in all cases where pubic anatomy is well preserved. oblique soften the vertical gouges (18 x ) (Photo. 34. . one aspect of her anatomy.298 White Fig. The brows and eye sockets of the Dame ? la capuche are treated in precisely the same ways as those from another Gravettian figurine from Avdeevo. However. Detail of the eyes of the Dame ? la capuche oriented as if she were looking at the viewer. Although they nonetheless protrude considerably beyond the greater labia. the sex organs are the greater labia.. White). the sex of which has never been disputed. it is clear tome that theDame ? la capuche represents a female subject. 35. these are not as developed visible.

1894e. The tool used was apparently not a burin. 35 right). 1895a.Women of Brassempouy 299 relevant to the labial details cited by de Mortillet aie absent due to In reality. creating at the same time the lateral margins of the nose. the slightly downward facing anterior surface of the protruberance shows two converging. At least in the case of her left orbit. microscopically. technically. 34 and 35). 1964) vacillated between interpreting the pubic area as that of a man with a cod piece and that of a woman with a pronounced mons venus. has perhaps been the most disputed. As I have pointed out elsewhere (White. They have been variously appropriated by advocates of fertility magic. Careful microscopic examination (Fig. oblique incisions between which is a vertical. scientific scepticism and careful observations during the 1894-97. the heavy (Fig. surprisingly unambiguous. For me. excavations as well as to Henri Delporte's (1968) meticulous re-analysis of Piette's archaeological collections from Brassempouy. Piette (Piette. there remains no doubt. goddess ideology. 33) allowed me to observe that. original matriarchy and militant feminism. Of course we need to remain prudent about such sexual attributions. 12). colleagues have asked me whether theDame ? la capuche has eyes. for the most part. His reading is shared by Duhard (1993a). in fact. b. Before analyzing it La figurine I too thought itwas probably amale. 2003a). the stratigraphie and spatial provenience of the figurines is. finally preferring the former view. while Dobres (1992) sees it as ambiguous at best. traces of this work were subsequently scraped away SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION In spite of the complicated circumstances surrounding the excavations at the grotte du Pape more than a century ago. breakage. Eyes or no Eyes? From time to time. incised midline: a classic pubic triangle with vulva. most of whom have ignored the rather messy and oppressive origins of the Venus terminology they so . Chollot. Depth and shadow were produced by gouging deeply into the corner of the eye socket and then dragging downward with considerable pressure. Gravettian figurines often manifest such visual ambiguity which may well be purposeful. The impression of a regard was created by the interplay between overhanging brow and the deeply gouged inner corners of the eye sockets (Figs. The answer. is no. the areas ? la ceinture (Fig. We owe this to Piette's extreme prudence. Over the years the figurines from Brassempouy have served several different masters. but rather a pointed flint tool. La figurine ? la ceinture has a vulva situated on what seems to be a protruding mons venus.

The primary sculpting area seems to have been at the very front during it is possible that differ of the cave and in nearby areas of l'Avenue. Hopefully. incising. This is the same range of techniques observable on better excavated and female figurines from other Gravettian sites. venus. the remarkable assemblage of figurines from the grotte du Pape wall continue to stoke debate. To the experienced eye. I am grateful to April Nowell. they speak to a rather complex repertoire of Gravettian sculpting procedures. may imply removal from the outside production area to a potentially ritualized context.300 willingly colonial employ. White In the m?l?e. there remains little doubt as to the authenticity of the Brassem pouy figurines. There is every indication that the Brassempouy figurines reflect a produc tion context in which sculpting occurred on-site. Grimaldi. Yann Potin. Inevitably. ential preservation of ivory across the site as a whole may explain the perceived density of figurines in this area. pecking. Nonetheless. Moreover. The remote location of the Torse. Rapha?lle Bourrillon and Joanna Milk for to have commenting on different versions of this paper. abrading and polishing. and when attention is paid to historical and archival ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS to thank the curators and librarians of the mus?e des Antiquit?s at Saint Germain-en-Lay e for generous access to the figurines from Brassempouy. the foregoing has served to clarify a certain number of questions and also to demonstrate the research potential of female figurines when studied according to inspection 21st century research designs sources. these tool stigmata can be linked to a wide range of gestures and stone tools of which they are the prod directly uct. seem to dominate the Brassempouy of women Although representations certain figures are difficult to attribute to sex due to breakage or assemblage. Sireuil and Tursac as well as the Piette archives. ambiguity by induced by a protruding mons to be a male representation. This partial dessication. The Figurine appears upon closer ? thought some to be female or at least ambiguous. deep inside the Grande Galerie. in part due to their fragmentary nature and in part due to the low resolution of Piette's excavations by modern standards. a position supported by the detailed technical traces evident on the themselves.Avdeevo and Gagarino. including hacking. I am truly privileged I wish nationales . resulted in a high frequency of breakage fabrication. representational la ceinture. their original and spontaneous integration into a of racial inequality. notably Kostienki 1. scraping. making use of locally available. gouging. For this author. seemingly not taken into consid better documented figurines eration by the Brassempouy sculptor(s). partially dessicated tusks. seems to have been largely overlooked. in which human differences were seen as ideology evolutionary stages.

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