Society of Africanist Archaeologists

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The organising committee is happy to propose a choice of four excursions, in the painted caves and prehistory museums in the Midi-Pyrenees region (visits 1, 2 and 3) or in the medieval city of Carcassonne (visit 4), all located in a one to two-hour drive from Toulouse.

These excursions will take place on Wednesday afternoon, June 29, during a half-day when there are no sessions scheduled. All conference participants are thus able to participate in an excursion, although this is not of course an obligation.

A person can register for only a single excursion (the four excursions proposed are thus mutually exclusive). Departure by bus will be from the conference centre at 12:30 pm and the return will be in early evening to the same place (around 8:00 pm). Picnic lunches will be available (those participating should therefore include the price of lunch in the cost of their conference registration fee).


Attention : The number of persons per excursion is limited. All requests thus cannot be guaranteed a place.




Grotte de Gargas and Museum of Aurignac
(Hautes-Pyrénées and Comminges)


Situated at the foot of the Pyrénées, the grotte de Gargas (Gargas Cave) is known for its rich Gravettian occupations, which are evidenced as much in the traces of their settlements as by the art on its walls that makes it one of the principal "parietal sanctuaries" of the European Early Upper Palaeolithic, dated around 30,000 years BP

Aurignac offers the chance to discover the invention of prehistory: it is in this small rock shelter named after this small village in Comminges that Edouard Lartet, in 1861, made the definitive discoveries for the recognition of fossil humans.

Today, the museum near the site presents this episode in the history of the discipline and our current knowledge of the Aurignacian culture, with which Upper Palaeolithic societies became established in Europe.


Gargas Musée d'Aurignac

© Y. Rumeau

© Musée Forum de l’Aurignacien

Cost of the visit: 35 € / person (this includes both transport and the visit)


- 12:30 pm: departure from Toulouse;

- 2:00 pm: arrival at the grotte de Gargas;

- 2:15 pm and 3:15 pm: departure to visit the cave;

- 5:15 pm: upon return, visit to Aurignac (museum and rock shelter);

- 8:00 pm: arrival in Toulouse.

Maximum number of persons: 38.




Grottes de Niaux and Mas d’Azil
(Pyrénées ariégeoises)


In the heart of the Pyrénées ariégeoises, the grotte de Niaux (Niaux Cave) contains some of the best-known masterpieces of Magdalenian cave art (circa 15,000 years BP), located in its famous “Salon Noir”, a vast chamber accessed by a long path through the maze of this monumental cavity. Nearby, the Park of the Prehistory of Tarascon offers the chance to increase our knowledge of this major cave and more broadly, discover the prehistory of the region.

Another monumental cave, the grotte du Mas d’Azil, enabled Edouard Piette to identify the Azilian in 1889 and, with this culture at the end of the Pleistocene, to fill in the chronological gap between the Palaeolithic and the Neolithic. His excavations, and those by many other prehistorians (including Henri Breuil), yielded one of the most beautiful collections of Magdalenian and Azilian mobile art, a sample of which is presented in the picturesque village museum.


Mas Azil Niaux

© Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de Toulouse

© Jean Clottes

Cost of the visit: 35 € / person (this includes both transport and the visit)


- 12:30 pm: departure from Toulouse ;

- Visit to the Grotte de Niaux and Park of the Prehistory of Tarascon;

- Upon return, visit to the grotte du Mas d’Azil;

- 8:00 pm: arrival in Toulouse.

Maximum number of persons: 38.




Grotte and Museum of Pech Merle


Found in the karstic plateaux of Lot, the Grotte de Pech Merle (Pech Merle Cave) reveals the complete palette of the Gravettian artists (circa 30,000 years BP), of which the famous "Spotted Horses" panel and the "Black Frieze" are the most important works, while the "Ceiling of Hieroglyphs" intertwines dozens of figures, including elegant feminine silhouettes.

The museum near the cave familiarises us with the prehistoric richness of this region, which has many sites ranging from the Lower Palaeolithic to the Neolithic as well as evidence of human occupation during the Upper Palaeolithic, for which the Grotte de Pech Merle is one of the most beautiful manifestations.


Peche Merle Peche Merle

© Museum of Pech Merle

© Museum of Pech Merle

Cost : 35 € / person (this includes both transport and the visit).


- 12:30 pm: departure from Toulouse;

- 2:30 pm: arrival at Cabrerets;

- Welcome by Bertrand Defois, museum curator, and film viewing;

- 3:00 pm and 3:15pm: departure for visits to the grotte de Pech Merle (one hour per visit);

- 4:15-5:30 pm: self-guided visit to the Museum;

- 6:00 pm : return to Toulouse, arrival expected around 8:00 pm

Maximum number of persons: 38.




Medieval city of Carcassonne


After having been a major protohistoric oppidum and then a Late Antique centre, during the medieval period the site of Carcassonne became a fortified city for which 19th century restorations by the celebrated architect Viollet-le-Duc have made it the largest medieval fortification in the Western Middle Ages that we can see.

The visit to the city includes in particular the discovery of its ramparts and the medieval streets within them, and perhaps pleasurably accompanied by one or more of its many museums, especially the museum of history of the city and its environs, housed in the spectacular Château Comtal.



© Office du tourisme de Carcassonne

Cost: 35 € / person (this includes transport only, entry fees for museums are paid individually during the visit)


- 1:00 pm: departure from Toulouse;

- 2:00 pm: arrival in Carcassonne;

- Self-guided visit of the city and its museums;

- 6:00 pm: departure from Carcassonne;

- 7:00 pm: arrival in Toulouse.

Maximum number of persons: 96.



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Update 17th june 2016   © Copyright 2015-2016 - Traces - University Toulouse Jean Jaurès   ≡   All rights reserved