1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Madelenian

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MADELENIAN, a term derived from La Madeleine, a cave in the Vézère, about midway between Moustier and Les Eyzies, France, and given by the French anthropologist Gabriel de Mortillet to the third stage of his system of cave-chronology, synchronous with the fourth or most recent division of the Quaternary Age. The Madelenian epoch was a long one, represented by numerous stations, whose contents show progress in the arts and general culture. It was characterized by a cold and dry climate, the existence of man in association with the reindeer, and the extinction of the mammoth. The use of bone and ivory for various implements, already begun in the preceding Solutrian epoch, was much increased, and the period is essentially a Bone age. The bone instruments are very varied: spear-points, harpoon-heads, borers, hooks and needles. Most remarkable is the evidence La Madeleine affords of prehistoric art. Numbers of bones, reindeer antlers and animals’ teeth were found, with rude pictures, carved or etched on them, of seals, fishes, reindeer, mammoths and other creatures. The best of these are a mammoth engraved on a fragment of its own ivory; a dagger of reindeer antler, with handle in form of a reindeer; a cave-bear cut on a flat piece of schist; a seal on a bear’s tooth; a fish well drawn on a reindeer antler; and a complete picture, also on reindeer antler, showing horses, an aurochs, trees, and a snake biting a man’s leg. The man is naked, and this and the snake suggest a warm climate, in spite of the presence of the reindeer. The fauna of the Madelenian epoch seems, indeed, to have included tigers and other tropical species side by side with reindeer, blue foxes, Arctic hares and other polar creatures. Madelenian man appears to have been of low stature, dolichocephalic, with low retreating forehead and prominent brow ridges. Besides La Madeleine the chief stations of the epoch are Les Eyzies, Laugerie Basse, and Gorge d’Enfer in Dordogne; Grotte du Placard in Charente and others in south-west France.

See G. de Mortillet, Le Préhistorique (1900); Edouard Lartet and Henry Christy, Reliquiae Aquitanicae (1865–1875); Edouard Dupont, Le Temps préhistorique en Belgique (1872); Lord Avebury, Prehistoric Times (1900).