Interpreting the Rock Paintings of Abri Faravel: laser and white-light scanning at 2,133m in the southern French Alps

K. Walsh1, F. Mocci2, C. Defrasne3, V. Dumas2 and A. Masinton1

1. Department of Archaeology, King's Manor, University of York, YO1 7EP, UK.
2. Centre Camille Jullian, UMR 7299 AMU_CNRS_MCC, MMSH, F-13094 Aix-en-Provence France
3. Fyssen post-doctoral researcher, Departament de Prehistória, História Antiga i Arqueologia – SERP, Universitat de Barcelona. Email: claudia.defrasne@gmail.com
Corresponding author: kevin.walsh@york.ac.uk
http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1621-2625

Cite this as: Walsh, K. et al. (2016) Interpreting the Rock Paintings of Abri Faravel: laser and white-light scanning at 2,133m in the southern French Alps, Internet Archaeology 42. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.42.1

Summary

Résumé


View of the paintings from the interior
of the rock shelter with the rock art colours
enhanced with DStretch

The Abri Faravel, discovered in 2010 at 2,133m asl in the Parc National des Ecrins, Freissinières, Southern French Alps, is probably the most enigmatic high altitude site in the Alps. This rock shelter saw phases of human activity from the Mesolithic through to the medieval period; the artefactual assemblages comprise Mesolithic and Neolithic flint tools, Iron Age hand-thrown pottery, a Roman fibula and some medieval metalwork. However, the most interesting and unique feature on the site are the prehistoric rock paintings; the highest representations of animals (quadrupeds) in Europe. These paintings are presented in this article. The paintings themselves were the object of a white-light scan, whilst the rock-shelter and surrounding landscape was scanned using a Faro laser scanner. Both of these models are presented here, and their interpretation elucidated by an assessment of the different phases of activity at the shelter, combined with a synthesis of other evidence from the area and pertinent environmental evidence.

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This article explores ways to develop communication of archaeology for differing audiences, one of the aims of the NEARCH project under the EU Culture programme.