The chair in European Civilizations during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age aims to undertake research and teaching about the first sedentary societies in the Mediterranean and European regions. Neolithic and Bronze Age civilizations broke with the prehistoric world of hunter-gatherers and constitute the very foundation of our
historic civilizations. They are analysed on a time scale from the Epipalaeolithic period (from about 10 000 BC) up to the Early Iron Age (500 BC). The Professor's research comprises several subjects:
1. Emergence and spread of the Neolithic from the Near East to the Atlantic façade.
The main topics studied are: the development of domesticated animal and plant species, the cultural transformations accompanying the movement of farming communities in Europe, the adaptation of farming populations to various ecological environments, the modelling of population diffusion by analysis of chronological and cultural data, and the processes of progressive opening up of the landscape.This aspect is based on archaeological fieldwork and on the study of materials stemming from sites distributed widely in the Mediterranean region: Cyprus (the excavations at Parekklisha-Shillourokambos of the oldest Neolithic settlement of the island), Greece (collaborative study of the site of Sidari in Corfu), South-Eastern Italy (initial settlement and evolution of the first farming communities of the peninsula analysed through the settlements of Torre Sabea, Apulia, and Trasano, Basilicata), Southern France (sites of the rock-shelter of Jean Cros, the Cave of Gazel, the rock-shelter of Font-Juvénal, in Languedoc), Andorra (stratigraphic sequence of the Margineda), Spain (excavations of the Cueva del Toll and of the Balma de l'Espluga). A research programme in Turkey (South-Eastern Anatolia: Adiyamann region) is under development. This research comprises a major palaeoenvironmental and palaeoeconomic component derived from various disciplines: sedimentology, micromorphology, pedology, malacology, palynology, anthracology, archaeozoology, microfauna (rodent fauna, avifauna ) and radiometric dating.
2. The emergence of the first complex societies in the Mediterranean.
This research component, devoted to Chalcolithic and Bronze Age societies, is structured around several main topics: the role of internal dynamics in processes of cultural change, development of site hierarchies, social
complexity analysed using architectural criteria (settlement defences and elaboration), sepulchral groupings (grave morphology and funerary materials), hoarding behaviour (lithic or metallic hoards) and the movement of prestige goods or materials of distinction.
This research theme comprises:
-the extensive excavations of sites dated from the Chalcolithic to the Iron Age:
settlements of Trasano in Italy (Early Bronze Age), of Roquemengarde, the Rocher du Causse and of Carsac, in Languedoc (Chalcolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age).
-the analysis of the processes of the emergence of the Western Mediterranean collective graves ( Proto-Megalithism ), the study of large megalithic burials (e.g. Pépieux and Saint-Eugène in Languedoc) or of sanctuaries from the 4th-3rd millennia BC (e.g. Maltese temples).
-the approach to social complexification investigated through the European phenomenon of Bell Beakers (study in progress of an important series in Sicily).
-the analysis of the large hoards of bronzes from Southern Gaul (supervision of the programme: Launac and the Launacian ).
3. Theoretical questions: social functioning and historical perspectives.
Some other more theoretical aspects are broached concerning the social functioning of the first farming or urban societies: the development of violence in ancient societies, the ideology of the warrior (the emergence of the statue-menhirs and anthropomorphic stelae), Neolithic feminine images (analysis of the schools of Venus figurines from the European Neolithic).The historical construction of the Mediterranean societies since the Neolithic and the Bronze Age is also one of the themes investigated: although navigation, cultural contacts and long distance exchanges spread through time, they have accentuated the development of identity, the display of differences, and the feeling of the diverse Mediterranean populations both mainland and island that they are building a specific history.
Teaching carried out at the College de France has been and is the reflection of this personal research. The subjects that have been or are offered are: historiography and theories about the Neolithic, prehistoric violence, pictures of the Neolithic woman, European statue-menhirs and anthropomorphic stelae, ancient Mediterranean protohistory. Seminars extend far beyond the European framework and touch on some fundamental Neolithic and Protohistoric processes: origins of agriculture, margins of the main Neolithic heartlands in the Old and New Worlds, emergence of megalithism, the dynamics that lead from the first villages to the processes of urbanization, movements of raw materials and long distance exchange, use of symbols, and interactions between protohistoric populations and environment.
The main partners for the operations in progress are: Ministère Français des Affaires Etrangères, Ministère de la Culture, Ecole Française d'Athènes, Ecole Française de Rome, Institut Français d'Etudes Anatoliennes G. Dumézil, Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Corfu, University of Pisa, Patrimoine Artistique Andorran, Academy of Heidelberg, CNRS, EHESS, University Paul Sabatier and Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle.