Anthropological Inquiry in France

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    THE published reports of the proceedings of the Société d'Anthropologie of Paris, for the year e ding in the autumn of 1878, testify as usual to the diligence and zeal of a large number of its members. Limiting ourselves to the notice of papers which deal with questions of French local palaeontology and sociology, we will begin our résumé by drawing attention to the interesting labours of M. Prunière, who has laid before the Society the result of several years' exploration of the Beaumes-Chaudes caverns in Lozére, the largest prehistoric ossuary yet brought to light. Here he recovered the remains of 300 individuals, besides a mass of more than 200,000 fragmentary pieces. These human bones were white, showing no trace of the action of fire, although charred animal bones and broken pottery were found near them, the whole being embedded in stalagmite and stalactite as hard as marble. The dolichocephalic crania, protruding jaws, and flat tibiæ, showed a close affinity to the Cro-Magnon and PHornme-mort remains; and M. Prunieres is of opinion, that at Beaumes-Chaudes we have evidence of the existence of a race differing essentially from those which have occupied France in modern times, and even from the pre-historic men of the neighbouring dolmens of Lozere. In the latter, and in the dolmen founders of western France generally, he recognises the more civilised agricultural race which waged war against the ruder cave-men, and finally exterminated them. And he believes we have indisputable evidence of this conflict of races in the fact, that while several of the Beaumes-Chaudes bones were found to have slender flints impacted in them of the kind discovered in the dolmens, and differing wholly from the flint arrow heads characteristic of the cave-men, only a few of the same form of silex were found lying loose in the débris, and these he thinks we may fairly assume to have become detached in the process of decomposition from the softer tissues of the body, in which they had been arrested. Some of the crania exhibited a hitherto unnoticed form of double-trepanning of the right and left parietais, whose different cicatrices appeared to show that a considerable interval had elapsed between the first and second operation, which probably was the pre-historic surgical remedy for convulsions, and all affections included in later ages under the term “possession.”

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    Anthropological Inquiry in France . Nature 20, 376–378 (1879) doi:10.1038/020376a0

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