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The Georgicks of Virgil, with an English Translation and Notes Virgil, John Martyn Ipsi in defossis specubus secura sub alta Otia agunt terra, congestaque robora, Pierius says it is confecto in the Roman manuscript. And Tacitus also says the Germans used to make caves to defend them from the severity of winter, .

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Nevertheless, a fundamental given of historical alpine societies is their structurally mobile way of life Granet-Abisset, ; Fontaine, , of which I have shown the multiple facets Thirault, a. Work on pre-alpine resources flint , but also rock crystal and hard rocks for polishing, has largely profited from the implication of several young researchers. Let us mention the work of C.

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Riche and C. Bressy on flints Bressy, ; Riche, ; Pelegrin et al. Cousseran and V. Brisotto on hyaline quartz Brisotto, ; Cousseran, , and our own research on hard-grained rocks intended for axe blades, arrowheads and ornament Thirault et al. More recently, cultural identities and the circulation of ideas and people have been apprehended via certain types of arrowhead Durand, ; Thirault, a or of ceramics Beeching, a, In the same manner, a mobile way of life has been inferred from the recognition of caves as being used as sheep folds whose extent and chronology are variable according to region cf.

For the French Pre-alps, a threshold is effective in the middle Neolithic; in the interior Alps, the data only go back to the final Neolithic but the documentation is very scarce Balmes site in Sollieres: Brochier et al. These studies show clearly that circulation and identity differ from one area to another in the interior Alps, and this from the middle Neolithic onwards.

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If it is not possible to determine alpine particularisms for the Neolithic, neither is it possible to speak about an alpine Neolithic in an overall way Beeching, I believe that a global approach is no longer effective and that it is now necessary to work on a more restricted scale - massif, valley, micro-region - in order to establish a tight grid of archeological documents within a homogenous geographical framework Beeching and Brochier eds.

A too loose grid of spatial and temporal data undermines the coherence of the analysis. The problem is the same for pollinic studies, often called upon in debates on anthropisation. They provide invaluable but localised data and presently do not support a satisfactory evolutive models of plant cover and its anthropisation in the Alps.

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Only the multiplication of analyses on a tightened territorial grid and according to altitudinal gradients, as in the Pyrenees, will allow progress on this point Gallup et al. We think that the return to the archaeological field must be conducted in circumscribed spaces and that it should be carried out in depth and in the long term.

Archaeological research is a slow process, especially in a mountain context where the sites are slipping away under the footprints of the prospectors. Based on the above principles, any place is appropriate for the project of establishing how mountain environments were peopled during the Holocene. In this field, the intra-alpine valleys and reliefs are of great informative potential but suffer from a documentary deficit. This observation led us to choose the Maurienne as a field study following encounters and opportunities which it is irrelevant to specify here fig.

Establishing the ways in which the Maurienne was populated should result in documenting the bonds, the thresholds and the borders on both sides of the alpine chain, as much between west and east as between north and south, between cultures resulting from the Mediterranean neolithisation and those belonging to the Danubian sphere, between central and western Europe.

Rey et Thirault Tarentaise : 1. Fontaine-le-Puits, dans le village. Maurienne : Fontcouverte-la-Toussuire, maison Bouttaz. Lanslebourg, rive sud du lac du Mont-Cenis. Lanslevillard, au pied du col du Mont- Cenis. Saint-Julien- Montdenis. Saint-Martin-la-Porte, col de Porte. Saint- Pancrace. Val Susa et Val Chisone : New sites in Maurienne : Lanslebourg, rive du lac du Mont-Cenis : an axe blade discovered accidentally oral information J.

Concerning the Maurienne, three facts should be remembered: a long-standing activity of prospection which had resulted in many discoveries compared with other alpine areas 37 points , but a notable deficiency of proven Neolithic sites 11 ; the activity of amateur and voluntary archeologists, including the only Neolithic excavation organised before the end of the XXth century, that of Les Balmes in Sollieres; widely scattered sources of information whose strongest point is the presence of Neolithic sites and indices from the bottom of the valley up to high altitudes approximately m.

Ozanne in Bessans at the bottom of the valley at an altitude of m, in which polished arrowheads in serpentinites and amphibolites were produced Rey and Thirault, ; Thirault, a. However, we quickly realised that the problems of the exploitation of hard-grained rock materials would not lead to a satisfactory account of how the area was settled. We therefore widened our area of study by carrying out a complete diagnosis of the site of Le Rocher du Chateau in Bessans , , completed by thematic prospections throughout the middle and high Maurienne valley or, more specifically, on the basin of Bessans and since The last operation aims to document the first settlement of an oasis at altitude: the plain of Bessans m and neighbouring reliefs up to m for summits exceeding m , by surface prospections and systematic surveys of the potential sites.

This operation, authorised for the period to , is not completed yet and the results are preliminary. Moreover, in , the opening of a forest road was the occasion of an intervention at Balmes in Sollieres which relaunched the issues studies on this site monograph to be edited by P. Benamour and J. We must specify that these operations are carried out with the assistance of voluntary teams, thanks to the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Council General of Savoy and the Vanoise National Park, modest subsidies supplemented by the logistic help of the Centre for Prehistoric Archaeology at Valence UMR of CNRS.

The distribution of sites and of isolated discoveries shows concentrations of which the archeological relevance is not certain. We find an absence of examples in the lower Maurienne and concentrations in the valley of Arves, around Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and Saint- michel-de-Maurienne, as well as between Modane and Sollieres, with altitudes ranging from m to m. In addition to these lower- lying discoveries are indications at higher altitude, between m and m, distributed on the southern slope of the Maurienne and underlining the importance of circulation at high altitudes and the frequentation of passes: the three passes of Frejus, of La Roue and of La Vallee Etroite, the saddle of Mont-Cenis and the sector of the sources of the Arc.

Two of them, Le Rocher des Amoureux in Villarodin and the shelter of Chatel at Sollieres, were discovered during excavations carried out by J. Ozanne on protohistoric occupations and remain largely unpublished Aubin ed. Les Balmes in Sollieres was revealed in by R. Chemin, and excavations were carried out successively by R. Chemin, F. Ballet, P. Benamour, then J. Vital until Benamour, ; Brochier et al. Several phases of the final Neolithic are attested.

In we carried out an intervention on the shelf adjacent to the cave and confirmed an open-air occupation during the final Neolithic at an altitude of m. In Bessans fig. Lastly, the site of Chatalamia in Villarodin, perched on a promontary above Modane at approximately m of altitude, has been the subject of surface surveys since fig. A Neolithic occupation is attested, at least for the end of the period.

The Neolithic site occupies the bottom of the rock face directed to the East. It is nevertheless possible to specify some advances made in our knowledge of this field, evidence for which is published elsewhere or is soon to be published.

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A detail of the deer panel, painted in red. Photography taken by the author in The same detail of the deer panel, after working on colours in order to set the painting off well. To date, no site irrefutably earlier than the Neolithic is known but, given the chronology of alpine deglaciation, it cannot be ruled out that human groups penetrated into the valley during the Tardiglacial or the ancient Holocene, i.

The early Neolithic is also absent. The dating of these occupations is not yet firmly established but it falls in the course of the 5th millennium cal. At this period there is a strong VBQ influence in the Maurienne and it would be useful to delimit the geographic extent of this phenomenon. Beyond the intra-alpine valleys, VBQ impact is well established in Swiss Valais and in the French Alps as far as the Rhone, but it is documented only by ceramics Bazzanella, ; Beeching et al.


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The nature of the VBQ presence in France is far from uniform. In the interior Alps it consists of occupations of the VBQ culture itself, whereas in the pre-Alps and the valley of the Rhone it is limited to influences which can be seen in ceramic forms and techniques Beeching, On the other hand, the end of the Neolithic is represented in the five sites mentioned, the status of which shows the functional diversity of the settlements: shepherding cave and probable open-air settlement in Balmes in Sellieres, repeated passages in the shelter of Le Chateau in Bessans.

Nevertheless, we note that the VBQ occupation of Bessans is certainly not perennial, which implies that this site is part of a broader territorial network including the nearer Piedmontese valleys just beyond the passes. For the final Neolithic, a link appears through lithic resources: production of polished arrowheads at Bessans Thirault, a , exploitation of the fine- grain quartzites at Chatalamia.

In this projection, Balmes de Sollieres could represent a perennial settlement at a new altitude for the period m. Rey et Thirault Tarentaise : 1. Fontaine-le-Puits, dans le village. Maurienne : Fontcouverte-la-Toussuire, maison Bouttaz. Lanslebourg, rive sud du lac du Mont-Cenis.

Lanslevillard, au pied du col du Mont- Cenis. Saint-Julien- Montdenis. Saint-Martin-la-Porte, col de Porte.

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Saint- Pancrace. Val Susa et Val Chisone : New sites in Maurienne : Lanslebourg, rive du lac du Mont-Cenis : an axe blade discovered accidentally oral information J. Concerning the Maurienne, three facts should be remembered: a long-standing activity of prospection which had resulted in many discoveries compared with other alpine areas 37 points , but a notable deficiency of proven Neolithic sites 11 ; the activity of amateur and voluntary archeologists, including the only Neolithic excavation organised before the end of the XXth century, that of Les Balmes in Sollieres; widely scattered sources of information whose strongest point is the presence of Neolithic sites and indices from the bottom of the valley up to high altitudes approximately m.

Ozanne in Bessans at the bottom of the valley at an altitude of m, in which polished arrowheads in serpentinites and amphibolites were produced Rey and Thirault, ; Thirault, a. However, we quickly realised that the problems of the exploitation of hard-grained rock materials would not lead to a satisfactory account of how the area was settled.

We therefore widened our area of study by carrying out a complete diagnosis of the site of Le Rocher du Chateau in Bessans , , completed by thematic prospections throughout the middle and high Maurienne valley or, more specifically, on the basin of Bessans and since The last operation aims to document the first settlement of an oasis at altitude: the plain of Bessans m and neighbouring reliefs up to m for summits exceeding m , by surface prospections and systematic surveys of the potential sites.

This operation, authorised for the period to , is not completed yet and the results are preliminary. Moreover, in , the opening of a forest road was the occasion of an intervention at Balmes in Sollieres which relaunched the issues studies on this site monograph to be edited by P. Benamour and J. We must specify that these operations are carried out with the assistance of voluntary teams, thanks to the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Council General of Savoy and the Vanoise National Park, modest subsidies supplemented by the logistic help of the Centre for Prehistoric Archaeology at Valence UMR of CNRS.

The distribution of sites and of isolated discoveries shows concentrations of which the archeological relevance is not certain. We find an absence of examples in the lower Maurienne and concentrations in the valley of Arves, around Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and Saint- michel-de-Maurienne, as well as between Modane and Sollieres, with altitudes ranging from m to m. In addition to these lower- lying discoveries are indications at higher altitude, between m and m, distributed on the southern slope of the Maurienne and underlining the importance of circulation at high altitudes and the frequentation of passes: the three passes of Frejus, of La Roue and of La Vallee Etroite, the saddle of Mont-Cenis and the sector of the sources of the Arc.

Two of them, Le Rocher des Amoureux in Villarodin and the shelter of Chatel at Sollieres, were discovered during excavations carried out by J. Ozanne on protohistoric occupations and remain largely unpublished Aubin ed. Les Balmes in Sollieres was revealed in by R. Chemin, and excavations were carried out successively by R. Chemin, F. Ballet, P. Benamour, then J. Vital until Benamour, ; Brochier et al. Several phases of the final Neolithic are attested.

In we carried out an intervention on the shelf adjacent to the cave and confirmed an open-air occupation during the final Neolithic at an altitude of m. In Bessans fig. Lastly, the site of Chatalamia in Villarodin, perched on a promontary above Modane at approximately m of altitude, has been the subject of surface surveys since fig. A Neolithic occupation is attested, at least for the end of the period. The Neolithic site occupies the bottom of the rock face directed to the East. It is nevertheless possible to specify some advances made in our knowledge of this field, evidence for which is published elsewhere or is soon to be published.

A detail of the deer panel, painted in red. Photography taken by the author in The same detail of the deer panel, after working on colours in order to set the painting off well.

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To date, no site irrefutably earlier than the Neolithic is known but, given the chronology of alpine deglaciation, it cannot be ruled out that human groups penetrated into the valley during the Tardiglacial or the ancient Holocene, i. The early Neolithic is also absent. The dating of these occupations is not yet firmly established but it falls in the course of the 5th millennium cal.

At this period there is a strong VBQ influence in the Maurienne and it would be useful to delimit the geographic extent of this phenomenon. Beyond the intra-alpine valleys, VBQ impact is well established in Swiss Valais and in the French Alps as far as the Rhone, but it is documented only by ceramics Bazzanella, ; Beeching et al. The nature of the VBQ presence in France is far from uniform. In the interior Alps it consists of occupations of the VBQ culture itself, whereas in the pre-Alps and the valley of the Rhone it is limited to influences which can be seen in ceramic forms and techniques Beeching, On the other hand, the end of the Neolithic is represented in the five sites mentioned, the status of which shows the functional diversity of the settlements: shepherding cave and probable open-air settlement in Balmes in Sellieres, repeated passages in the shelter of Le Chateau in Bessans.

Nevertheless, we note that the VBQ occupation of Bessans is certainly not perennial, which implies that this site is part of a broader territorial network including the nearer Piedmontese valleys just beyond the passes. For the final Neolithic, a link appears through lithic resources: production of polished arrowheads at Bessans Thirault, a , exploitation of the fine- grain quartzites at Chatalamia.

In this projection, Balmes de Sollieres could represent a perennial settlement at a new altitude for the period m. Thus, a local focus joins a more global analysis of the mountain region since, for example, the three sites presented above furnish evidence of the production of axe blades in eclogite and omphacitite rock originating from nearby Piedmontese deposits.

In one way or another, these sites belong to the circle of producers of such tools intended for an intense circulation from the VBQ towards the west Thirault b. Thus, if the Neolithic period in the Alps is as rich and complex as everywhere else, the identifying alpine characteristics are increasingly visible from the middle Neolithic onwards.

But, for all that, they are as much regional as alpine markers so they cannot, of themselves, be the basis of the alpine Neolithic. Gallia Informations , , p. In - Metodi della ricerca sul territorio e modelli di insediamento, Dialoghi di Archeologia , , p. Actes du colloque international du C.

Atti del Convegno, Pordenone aprile Preistoria Alpina , 39, p. Paris: Ed. Hamel J. Autour de Maurice Godelier. Actes du Colloque de Cerisy, Paris, Fayard, p. Quaderni della Soprintendenza Archeologica del Piemonte , 3, p. Un bilan et un programme de recherche. Bergame Notizie archeologiche bergomensi, 3 , p. Actes du colloque de Lausanne, mai Actes du colloque de Lausanne, 13 mai Rocher des Amoureux. REY P. Etat des connaissances. In - Alpis Graia.