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Protection of Antiquities in France

Nature volume 130, pages 339340 (03 September 1932) | Download Citation



A QUESTION of much interest to archologists in general, though naturally of more immediate moment to French archologists, is raised by Dr. R. Vaufrey in the current issue of L'Anthropologie (t. 42, Nos. 3–4), in describing certain steps which have been taken by the Prehistoric Section of the Commission des Monuments historiques for the more efficient administration of the law relating to the protection of prehistoric antiquities. It would appear that French archologists are feeling some alarm lest they should be on the eve of a condition of affairs prophesied by M. Marcellin Boule more than forty years ago, when he foresaw that, unless effective measures were taken, France's priceless store of prehistoric antiquities in the Dordogne would be exhausted. In the opinion of prominent French archologists, that time is indeed close at hand. Every effort is to be made to avert it. Present financial conditions preclude anything in the nature of the creation of a department for the purpose, but steps are being taken to secure a stricter enforcement of the existing law. The Prehistoric Section of the Commission, which is the body responsible, wishes to place no check on scientific excavation, whether by organisations or individuals properly accredited; but it aims at the ‘amateur’ who seeks to exploit a site for his personal and pecuniary gain. In this praiseworthy object, French archologists will have the moral support of their colleagues, whatever their nationality, and also in what is clearly their secondary object, namely, to secure the control of the finds thus averting such a catastrophe as occurred when the skeletal remains found in the caves of Le Moustier and Combe Capelle were lost to France.

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