Union Académique Internationale

Ségolène Vandevelde receives the Brepols Prize

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During the last General Assembly of the UAI, President Klaus Herbers announced the names of the winners of the two Early Career Researcher Awards of the UAI. The Brepols Prize, so named because of the financial and editorial support of this prestigious publishing house, was awarded to Ségolène Vandevelde for her project entitled "Temporalities of creation of Rock Art sites in the Canadian Shield".

Rock art is a very ancient mode of symbolic expression. Shared by many societies, it is found worldwide from at least -40,000 to the present day. It gives the viewer a unique and valuable insight into the human spirit and opens a window onto the world and the cosmogony of those who made it. As several ethnographic studies attest, its operational chain (from the selection of raw materials and the preparation of the paintings and the wall, to the creation and use of the figures) occupies an important symbolic and ritual place in society. . Understanding the chronology of creation of a rock site is therefore a major issue. Dating a figure is not everything; how can we know if all of the representations are contemporary? If such and such a panel was made at the same time? How can we define how much time separates the production of two performances? Rock art is widely studied throughout the world, but to date the temporality of the establishment of decorated sites and their occupation dynamics remain unclear. This research project aims to answer all of these major anthropological questions for understanding the relationship to the symbolism of past societies. To do this, we will seek to retrace the operational chain of decorated sites, that is to say the entire process of their construction, with a high temporal resolution thanks to the crossing of multidisciplinary methods relating to archaeology, geology and chemistry.

The crusts that form on the walls are ideal archives for achieving the micro-chronological resolution necessary to explore our problem. These deposits (overlying or underlying the paintings) are generally used as dating supports, or for paleoenvironmental reconstructions, particularly when it comes to speleothems. Indeed, these can be made up of annual doublets, a bit like tree rings, and offer extremely fine temporal resolution. The concretions which trap anthropogenic particles (soot, pigments) are also archives of the traces left by humans. The high temporal resolution of their recording is particularly valuable in archaeology, since such annual resolution cannot generally be achieved by conventional radiometric methods.

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