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Visiting Lascaux


Our first trip to the continent
Colin Renfrew Archaeologist
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Another thing that I have a very good memory of in those years is our first trip to the continent and my father always enjoyed travelling in, in Europe. Before the war he'd travelled quite widely then obviously during the war it wasn't possible to go on holidays overseas. But quite soon afterwards, he bought a four- seater MG which was a very attractive car, and we set off. This was in 1949 when I was 12, and we set off to the Continent and I remember seeing the Bayeux Tapestry and lots of pleasant things in France. And then we went down to Italy and I remember we made a point of seeing lots of the works of Michelangelo. We saw Leonardo's "Last Supper" in Milan, and Pompeii was one of the high spots, Pompeii and Herculaneum which, of course, have this marvellous atmosphere. And the car broke down just north of Rome and we had to get some repairs done and we were told that Cerveteri was a good place to visit, which, of course, is the great Etruscan necropolis and that was a really interesting experience, to see all these open tombs. Of course there is a fenced off area, but to see all these open tombs, be able to crawl into these rock-cut chambers which were still full of fragments of pottery and so on, brought one very close to what seemed a remote and mysterious past, and, of course, the Etruscans were, and still are to some extent, mysterious, so I found that really a very interesting experience and began to take an interest in the Etruscans from then on.

Baron Renfrew of Kaimsthorn is a British archaeologist known for his work on the dispersal of the Proto-Indo-Europeans and the prehistory of PIE languages. He has been Disney Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge as well as Master of Jesus College and Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

Listeners: Paul Bahn

Paul Bahn studied archaeology at Cambridge where he did his doctoral thesis on the prehistory of the French Pyrenees. He is now Britain's foremost specialist on Ice Age art and on Easter Island, and led the team which discovered Britain's first Ice Age cave art at Creswell Crags, Nottinghamshire, in 2003. He has authored and edited numerous books, including Journey Through the Ice Age, The Enigmas of Easter Island, Mammoths, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Prehistoric Art, and, with Colin Renfrew, Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice which was published in its 5th edition in 2008.

Duration: 1 minute, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2008

Date story went live: 14 May 2009