Abri Reverdit

Site préhistorique de Castel-Merle


Useful Information

Location: Sergeac.
Open: Easter to JUN Mon-Fri 10-19, Sat, Sun 14-19.
JUL to AUG daily 10-19.
SEP Mon-Fri 10-19, Sat, Sun 14-19.
[2011]
Fee: Groups (15+): Adults EUR 4.50, Children (7-18) EUR 4, Children (0-6) not allowed, Students EUR 4.50.
[2011]
Classification: ExplainKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided. guded: D=90min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Site préhistorique de Castel-Merle, Castel-Merle, 24290 Sergeac, Tel: +33-553-507970, Fax: +33-553-507479.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

1875 discovered by Alain Reverdit.
1878 first excavation by Alain Reverdit.
1879 second excavation by Alain Reverdit and M. Hardy.
1909 excavation by M. Castanet.
1910 excavation by L. Didon and Denis Peyrony.
1911-1914 excavation by F. Delage.
1923 sculptures in the ceiling discovered by M. Castanet.
05-JUL-1924 declared a Monument historique.
1935 sculptures first published.

Description

The Abri Reverdit is located on the left side of the Vallon de Castelmerle, about 200m from the Vézère. It was named after Alain Reverdit, who discovered the archaeologic importance of the rock shelter in 1875. At this time it was used as a barn.

After numerous excavations during 50 years, the sculptures in the ceiling were finally discovered by M. Castanet in 1923. They were drawn by abbé Henri Breuil in the same year, but the scientific publication by F. Delage took many years and was published in 1935.

The abri is 15m long, 5m deep and about 3m high. A series of figures, made in relief, are located on the right side, forming a horizontal frieze. There are figures like the head of a wild horse, a full horse, a wisent and two incomplete wisents. The reliefs are unfortunately partly destroyed by erosion. On the left side of the abri numerous fire places were discovered in the debris.

The Vallon des Roches aka Vallon de Castelmerle is a small side valley on the left side of the Vézère, 600m west of Sergeac. it is also known as Site Prehistorique de Castelmerle (also Castel-Merle). There are ten abris or rock shelters and this was except for Les Eyzies the spot with the highest population during the late Palaeolithic. The ten abris are:

The visit to the vallon des Roches is completed by a visit at the Musée de Sergeac. It is located in the center of nearby village Sergeac and operated by René Castanet. On display are numerous finds from the excavations, like stone tools, two engraved mammoth ivory plates, needles with holes, bone whistles, and a phallus sculpture. A piece of cliff face from one of the shelters is covered by the engravings of a ring, a phallus, and a vulva. The highlight of the collection are six collars dating from Aurignacian and Magdalenian, made of steatite pearls, ivory pearls, teeth of various animals, shells, and fossils.

In 2012 the new discovery of the oldest paintings and engravings of the world was published. In Abri Castanet a big slab of rock, weighing some 1.5 tons, fell down from the ceiling long ago. As a result the underside was protected by the slab itself and the human artworks on it remained. According to the archaeologists they are about 37,000 years old. The engravings show various abstract symbols including a circle or oval with line at one end, which is interpreted as a vulva. When this results were published in spring 2012 the international press soon concentrated on the fact that the earliest art could be considered porn. Actually not new, as findings of similar age from Germany also show naked women and symbols of vulvas.