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Centre de Recherche et d'Etudes pour l'Art Préhistorique Emile Cartailhac

   

ARIANE DATABASE


 

     Palaeolithic Cave Art is our most precious source of information on the cultures of the populations that lived in Western Europe during the last Ice Age. It tells us about the evolution of their beliefs, their ideals and also about their social organisation by showing us the relations between (sometimes distant) groups.

     The study of these populations in symbolic terms is an essential aspect of prehistoric anthropology as such symbols are true cultural indicators, being outside the realm of commerce and material contingencies. These symbolic expressions are spread out over hundreds of caves and shelters and over thousands of Portable Art objects found during digs and distributed in museums all around the world.

     In order to embrace the evolutions that occurred during this very long time period (over 20000 years) and over the entire European continent, we need knowledge at our disposal that takes specialised researchers dozens of years to acquire and we need documentation that even the best university libraries struggle to obtain. Students interested in these topics spend an extraordinary amount of time putting together their bibliography and references. In fact, this bibliography is often to be found in ancient regional publications and many sites are only published in a sporadic and imprecise manner, thus forcing expensive research work. Furthermore, access to sites is now increasingly regulated.

     The evolution of computers is such that collecting, storing and quickly consulting dozens of gigabits of information is no longer a technical problem. It is now feasible to bring together on a single platform all the text and image documents relating to Palaeolithic Cave Art in Europe along with their archaeological context (including Portable Art).

     The ARIANE project was thus created, a database of documents on Palaeolithic Art in Europe available to all students, teachers and researchers. Its aim is to allow students to share the knowledge of specialists in order to gain time when assembling their documents and hence be more efficient in their research. ARIANE is also a precious tool for the specialists themselves, an aid for teaching, and it may become in the long term a method of communication for the public at large. This tool is therefore directed towards all participants in archaeological prehistory.


Project status

     This project is based on the long personal work of Georges Sauvet. The interface for consulting and navigating the database were programmed using Transcript¨ and Revolution¨ and are therefore compatible with all platforms (Windows, Mac OS, Unix).

     In its current working condition, the ARIANE database contains information relating to 369 Cave Art sites and over 580 European Palaeolithic digs. It uses 170 maps and contains over 3500 bibliographies. Over 16000 images of Cave Art and Portable Art have been digitised. These numbers, which are rapidly evolving thanks to the work of all team members of the CREAP, may seen enormous but they represent only a small fraction of what our project will have gathered in the long term. Specifically, contextual documents are still rare but we are working to fill this gap. We are convinced - and all who have tried it concur - that ARIANE will become a very powerful and useful tool for all. It is a child that has not quite yet reached maturity!

     The ARIANE database represents one of the research themes of UMR 5608 (cf. TRACES-axe 2: Methodologies for Rock Art and Portable Art). We are currently working with all those who are willing to help us to complete our database with text and image documents while also helping us to correct any mistakes or omission in our actual base. We offer our thanks for the continuing help from our Spanish colleagues from the universities of Oviedo, Santander and Cordoba (cf. Collaborations).


Users / Access

     At the moment the database is stored on a server at the university of Toulouse-le Mirail and can be consulted from any laptop (Mac or PC). Access to the database is password protected and reserved to registered users. Access is quite restricted at the moment as this project is still in an experimental phase while certain copyright issues are being sorted out. A few students are using it for their thesis along with some researchers at the Centre CREAP-Cartailhac at the university of Toulouse-le Mirail.

     The ARIANE database is essentially designed for research but we are hoping to create other versions for wider audiences that would be made available to specific partners such as the Prehistoric Park of Tarascon-sur-Arige, Regional Archaeological Services, Archaeology Museums, etc.

To find out more...

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-- Research themes
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-- Database
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-- Bibliography
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-- Collaborations
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