Chopper

Paolo's picture
The Department of Anthropology at University of California, Berkeley was established in 1901. In the words of Frederick W. Putnam the department and the museum were necessary to properly organize several archaeological and ethnological expeditions maintained on behalf of the University by Mrs. Phoebe A. Hearst.
Phoebe Hearst didn't seem particularly enthusiastic about European prehistory although she had few objects - such as this scraper from Sweden - in her personal collection. As patron of the museum she financially supported Alfred Emerson in his collecting trips to Europe and around the Mediterranean. The turn of the last century witnessed a wealth of prehistoric research in the Old World but he largely focused on classical archaeology.
Between the world wars, a few single objects and small lithic assemblages from important paleolithic sites - mostly in France - were acquired. By the late 1960's these accessions had ceased and only few exchanges with other institutions took place. Old World archaeology at UC Berkeley was then mostly dedicated to Africa while European prehistory remained in the background. By the time professors Ruth Tringham and Meg Conkey came to the department in 1978 and 1987 respectively archaeology had greatly changed its modus operandi since the days of Putnam and Emerson. Large shipments of artifacts across the globe were no longer the norm as maintaining the relationship between objects and their original context was more highly valued and European governments began to restrict the trade in archaeological objects.
Laws on the export of cultural heritage are now very strict worldwide. Although, in the course of my own archaeological research, the Croatian government always granted me permission to borrow archaeological materials to study, traveling through customs was often challenging.
When compared to holdings from other geographic regions, today PAHMA curates a smaller collection of prehistoric artifacts of European provenience. It contains type tools of most cultures and traditions with the notable exception of the neolithic. Featured today is the biggest (and also one of the oldest) object in the European prehistoric collection. The chopper was collected in the Tagus Valley, in Portugal, by J. Desmond Clark; it measures 14 x 23.5 cm (5'5" x 9'2" in). Acheulean tools appeared in Europe around half million years ago.
 
 
PAHMA 7-5064
Early Acheulean cobble chopper; quartzite; bifaced
Portugal; Barreiras do Vale do Forno; middle terrace
Collected by J. Desmond Clark, 1964
 
 
PAHMA 7-2
Flint scraper, Solutrean
Sweden, Province of Skane
Collected by Phoebe A. Hearst
 
Paolo Pellegatti
Research Archaeologist
Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology
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