Gourmet Fair

A Panorama of Prehistory

Bronze Age carved bracelets and ear ornaments discovered in the Alps made of a coppery alliage. Musée d’Archéologie nationale, MAN 14791. ©MAN/Valorie Gô

Gabriel de Mortillet was born 200 years ago. A pioneer in the field of pre-history, he was perhaps best known for his clarification and ordering of the archeology of the Paleolithic, and, too, the classification and description of objects of pre-history. France’s national archeological museum is paying tribute to the engineer, geologist, paleontologist and politician. The exhibition is being played out at the Musée d’Archéologie nationale – Domaine national de Saint-Germain-en-Laye and is entitled To Classify, To Exhibit and to Date in the 19th century.

Bronze Bust of Gabriel de Mortillet, by Auguste La Penne , 1899. MAN 87128. Musée d’Archéologie nationale. ©MAN/Valorie Gô

The show draws on the important collections housed in the museum and offers a journey into the prehistoric world as well as into the methods of the man who was recruited in 1866 to classify the museum’s vast holdings and who at the same time was the mayor of the town where the museum is located, Saint-Germain-en-Laye. So if you can’t be in France right now, The Gourmet Gazette brings the exhibition and the museum to you.

Bronze swords, Abel Maître, gouache, 1878. Musée d’Archéologie nationale, centre des archives, BIB 5440. ©MAN/Valorie Gô

His method was founded on the strict observation of an object and its introduction into a series that was characteristic of a certain period. He would establish a chronology of Prehistory in relationship to a geological timeline. He organized the museum into four periods, dividing the Stone Age into two periods, the age of carved stone and the age of polished stone, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, juxtaposing the pieces with the graphic arts, casts and zoological representations. Among the some 100 objects and documents on exhibit one finds a map of the caves in Gaul, a rendering of bronze swords, silex axes, engraved ancient bracelets and ear cuffs.
The exhibition runs through January 2nd while the castle that houses the museum, the permanent collections and the stunning grounds are all worthy of a visit.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette

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