In December 2018, Prof. Dr. Gerd-Christian Weniger, director of the Neanderthal Museum, founder and lead partner of the network Ice Age Europe, retired. The network is grateful for the many years of successful cooperation under his leadership! In January 2019, his long-term Deputy Director Dr. Bärbel Auffermann took over his position and thus becomes the new lead partner of the network. We are very much looking forward to continue our work with her!
On Sunday 23rd of September 2018, the Ice Age Europe network members invited everybody to celebrate our common Ice Age heritage on #IceAgeEuropeDay! Various special activities were offered at the museums and sites across Europe to highlight the first international day dedicated to the glacial era.
The process of the serial transnational nomination of the Neanderthals sites as UNESCO World Heritage continues! Following the first project meeting in November 2017 at the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann (Germany), the second #NeanderthalCluster meeting took place from 12 to 13 June 2018 in Namur (Belgium). Representatives from Croatia, Germany, Belgium and Spain as well as from the Ice Age Europe network followed the invitation of Agence Wallonne du Patrimoine (Walloon Heritage Agency). A representative from France joined the meeting via Skype.
In March 2018 the Ice Age Europe network members gathered for their largest network meeting so far, hosted by two of our members in the Basque Country, Ekainberri and Isturitz & Oxocelhaya Caves.
Ekainberri, the replica of the World Heritage site Ekain cave, celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2018. The museum has become an important site and partner for the region and beyond. It presents about 85 % of the exceptional rock art found in the cave in a very realistic way. Our members enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tours, tested the fabulous educational programs and enjoyed the beautiful location in the middle of green hills.
5 years ago, on the initiative of the Neanderthal Museum in Germany, the Ice Age Europe network was created to pool resources and collaborate across borders.
Today it represents 20 archaeological sites and research institutions and their affiliated museums or visitor centres across 7 European countries. The sites, among them many World Heritage sites, attract close to 2 million visitors per year from Europe and overseas.
The workshop with 25 international experts from archeology, UNESCO and the German Federal Foreign Office early November 2017 at the Neanderthal Museum, Mettmann/Germany proved to be a great success. The participants were able to draw on the preparatory work of the network Ice Age Europe, which since 2013 has sought to promote the Ice Age heritage of Europe and has laid the foundation for close cooperation. As a result it was agreed to further pursue a serial, transnational nomination process.
More than a thousand sites in 167 countries are already inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Yet only a handful of them are discovery sites of human fossils from the Ice Age. In general, the early human history and the cultural heritage of the Ice Age have a very low visibility: No spectacular architecture rises into the sky, no impressive walls surround the area. Instead, a cave or the unspectacular surface of an open-air site characterizes the place. But all the more spectacular are the respective circumstances and the scientific significances of the finds that were made there. Milestones of human development with global consequences become tangible in many of those places.
Our second network meeting in 2017 took place at MUSE. The new science museum in Trento, sitting in a stunning building designed by Renzo Piano, was opened in 2013. It tells the tale of evolution, where mankind comes from and how it interacts with the surrounding environment. The museum considers itself as activist, leading visitors on the path towards a well-balanced relationship between science, nature and society. MUSE is also in charge of Dalmeri rock shelter, a key site for the reconstruction of the behavior, the activities and the exploitation of the Alpine territories by the last Paleolithic hunter-gatherers that inhabited the Alps. The most important finds are on show at the exhibitions.
On the southern edge of the Swabian Alb lie important prehistoric find spots. In four caves in the Ach and the Lone Valley (Geißenklösterle, Hohle Fels, Hohlenstein-Stadel, and Vogelherd) figurines of animals and humans were excavated, carved of Mammoth ivory.
What connects Europe? It is not the language, nor is it the currency. It is the cultural heritage we share, common roots which reach all the way back to the Ice Age. The most recent studies show there to be close relationships between all Europeans across the continent.
2017 sees the beginning of a journey for our network as we launch the #IceAgeEuropeNow touring exhibition. The exhibition presents large-format photographs of fascinating archaeological finds, extraordinary objects revealing surprising connections between the past and present.
Today we published the first edition of the new Ice Age Europe Magazine! It showcases the many activities taking place at some of the most important prehistoric sites across Europe, each with a direct connection to ancient human occupation. This edition contains contributions from each member site, including our two associate members. The centre pages of the magazine has a map of Europe, indicating not only the location of our members but where the coastline of Europe was during the Ice Age.
In the first week of February 2017, the Ice Age Europe network members assembled again to plan the projects of the current year. It has been a special meeting as we celebrated an anniversary: our 10th gathering since the idea to establish the network!
"Résonnances", created in July 2008, was composed in and for the Isturitz, Oxocelhaya and Erberua Caves. The objective is to present the caves from a very different angle, to reveal their dimensions and spaces as well as the very unique soundscapes.
The second network meeting in 2016 took us to the Swabian Alps with it's world famous caves. Our host this time was our member Museum of Prehistory in Blaubeuren, where visitors can dive into our prehistoric past and admire the oldest Ice Age art worldwide.
In 1866, the French geologists and paleontologists Henry Testot-Ferry and Adrien Arcelin discovered the world-famous site of Solutrè, situated in east-central France near Mâcon and marked by the famous rock. The site soon became the name-sake of an industry which unique tool-making techniques were not seen before and not rediscovered for millennia. Numerous excavations with a multitude of discoveries - and still ongoing - revealed it to be an exceptional hunting site and witness of a long human presence.
At the latest session of the World Heritage Committee, July 2016 in Instanbul/Turkey, Gorham’s Cave Complex has been inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. The steep limestone cliffs on the eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar contain four caves with archaeological and paleontological deposits that provide evidence of Neanderthal occupation over a span of more than 125,000 years. This exceptional testimony to the cultural traditions of the Neanderthals is seen notably in evidence of the hunting of birds and marine animals for food, the use of feathers for ornamentation and the presence of abstract rock engravings. Scientific research on these sites has already contributed substantially to debates about Neanderthal and human evolution.
Ahead of the vote at the 40th Session of the World Heritage Committee in July 2016, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the official advisory body of the World Heritage Committee for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention of UNESCO, has officially recommended that the site known as the ‘Gibraltar Neanderthal Caves and Environments’ be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Right at the beginning of the year, the Ice Age Europe network members gathered again. This time, the meeting was hosted by one of our founding members Kents Cavern, situated in Devon, UK, in the heart of the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark.
Dwarfs and giants cavort in myths, legends and fairy tales, from Greek mythology to Grimm's fairy tales and contemporary fantasy literature like "Lord of the rings" or "Harry Potter". While the giants are threatening and on the margins of society, the dwarfs are usually smart and crafty and live among the people.
A herd of 42 artistically designed mammoths from the Vogelherd Cave are off for a hike! These oversized replicas of the 40,000-year-old, fully preserved mammoth figure were painted by artists and citizens of the region. Through the acquisition of a mammoth, you can support the district of Heidenheim and social services of the region.
The network members just returned from a highly productive network meeting at the paläon - Research and Experience Center Schöningen Spears. During the two-day programm, the participants continued to work onthe various network projects inthe fields of tourismand marketing, education and touring exhibitions.
We are happy to find long articles about our network and its members in the Wall Street Journal US and Europe edition on July 15 and July 16, 2015 and are a little proud of the international interest our rather young organisation raises!
Neanderthal is the first human fossil, slightly different from us, that was discovered. He developed his individuality in Europe, a continent he occupied until some 35,000 years ago. He descends from the first human groups that spread from Africa throughout Europe about 1,800,000 years ago. Neanderthal acquired his specific morphology on this continent between 500,000 and 120,000 years ago. As from this date, he is called a "classic Neanderthal".
We are happy to announce the first Ice Age Europe study tour! Our member paläon and their partner aRuB Reisen invite you to explore famous sites and renowned museums across Central Germany. The tourtakes you behind thescenes of the new paläon and the excavations where the now famousSchöningerspears were discovered. You will meet scientists at the Primate Research Center of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, visit the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle and the Einhorn Cave in the Harz Mountains.
The temporary modern art exhibition “VR60768 anthropomorphic figure” opens April 16 in Rome. Twenty works of the contemporary artist Andrea Benetti will be on show, along with copies of the two stones painted 40,000 years ago and found in Fumane Cave.
We now welcome applications to become a member from 2016 onwards! New this yearisthe possibility to apply for associated membership. With this new type of membership we would like to give all those institutions that do not qualify for full membership, i.e. museums or visitor centers with a direct link to an Ice Age/ Palaeolithic or Mesolithic archaeological site, the opportunityto nonetheless participate in thenetwork, albeit on a smaller scale.
The 57th Annual Meeting of the Hugo Obermaier Society will take place April 07–11, 2015 in Heidenheim/ Germany at the invitation of the University of Tübingen, Institute of Prehistory, Early History and Medieval Archaeology and the Förderverein Eiszeitkunst im Lonetal e.V.. Both are closely connected to our members Archaeopark Vogelherd and Museum of Prehistory Blaubeuren.
Our recent network member gathering took us to the famous site of Solutré. We climbed up the rock, visited the Maison du Grand Site - Solutré Pouilly Vergisson and the newly opened, fantastic Prehistory Museum of Solutré. In the network meetings we worked on and refined our many project ideas, including Ice Age Europe group tours, the training of site guides and the creation of innovative learning ressources. We also considered an Ice Age Europe touring exhibition and invented clever network souvenirs, which will soon be available in the museum shops of the network members. In future, the network would also like to welcome associated members. Details will be published soon.
We believe that 2015will be anotherexciting year for the network in whichwe want toachieve a lot! So stay tuned and keep up to date here, on Facebook or Twitter!
In 2015, the urmu (Urgeschichtliches Museum Blaubeuren/ Museum of Prehistory Blaubeuren) celebrates its 50th anniversary! 50 years ago the archaeologist Gustav Riek - at that time excavating the now famous Brillenhöhle and Große Grotte - proposed to the city of Blaubeuren to establish a small museum to preserve and present his finds.
Today, the museum is considered the centerof Ice AgeartinGermany. Ithas been completely redesignedlast year and presents in originals theoldest artandtheoldest musicalinstruments of mankind, found in thecaves of the SwabianAlb, in the immediate vicinityof the museum.
The interactive Ice Age Europe Game is now available on our website! Originally developed for our interactive touchscreen terminals which connect staff and visitors at our member sites throughout Europe, it now also allows our online visitors to learn about Ice Age life and travel through Europe then or today with the roll of a dice ...
The European Museum Forum (EMF) that works under the auspices of the Council of Europe has been collaborating successfully with many national and international museum associations. Since 2013 the organisation has a signed agreement with ICOM (International Council of Museums) and in 2014 it officially created partnership with NEMO (Network of European Museum Organisations). The common objective is to strengthen the position of museums and cultural institutions in these turbulent times of sever budget cuts, but also to widen and exchange knowledge in cooperation programmes. This aim linked the Forum with the ICE AGE EUROPE network, first due to personal contacts and then through possibilities to collaborate in the interest of both networks.
Today our trans-European interactive Ice Age game has been unveiled. Controlled by touchscreen and connecting the Ice Age Europe network members via web, the game takes young visitors on a journey comparing Europe today to Ice Age Europe with no frontiers. Have there always been border controls? How big is a mammoth dung heap? Did Ice Age kids go to school? The terminals allow students of all ages to a play a dice game across a virtual map of Europe answering questions about Europe today and Europe with no boundaries during the Ice Age, highlighting the location of the most important sites of ancient human occupation.
The latest meeting of the network members took place in October 2014 in sunny Gibraltar. We shared news from the member sites, discovered 'The Rock' and it's history and even went to visit the famous Gorhams Cave. Most of all, we started to develop new projects in the areas of education, staff exchange and tourism, which will be implemented step by step in the next year. So watch out for more news!
Is your institution interested in becoming a full Ice Age Europe network member? We have now compiled a check list and set up the time frame for applications. You can find all details online here. Don´t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!
TheVenusof Hohle Fels,the oldest knownhumanrepresentation of the world,is the new star of the Prehistory Museum in Blaubeuren. The figure measures nearlysix inches,is40,000 yearsoldandemphasizes whatis necessaryfor thecreation and survival ofmankindsince time immemorial:a sweeping pelvic and a nourishingbreast.
In January 2014, the network members met at the Arkeologi Museoa in Bilbao to discuss a wide range of areas of co-operation with a focus on potential partnerships and projects suitable for funding. Funding has already been secured from the Government of North Rhine-Westphalia for a project that will virtually connect all the member sites through touch-screen stations. It will allow visitors to communicate in real time with visitors in other sites and will make them aware of the network member sites which they can visit across the continent.
After more than 25 years of existence, the museum of Solutré has embarked on a project of museographic renovation to improve and modernize the presentation of collections but also to renew the scientific discourse and integrate the new problems of prehistory research.
One of the largest European projects on the expansion of Pleistocene modern humans from Africa to Europe steps into its second phase. After a two-day assessment by an international commission, another four years of research of the Collaborative Research Centre "Our Way to Europe" have been approved. About 70 researchers of the Universities of Cologne, Bonn and Aachen are involved, and with them the Neanderthal Museum.
The Museum of Altamira is also a research centre whose objectives include the study of prehistory, humankind’s first art, and its dissemination among society to improve knowledge and awareness of its value and the requirement for its protection.
After more than 25 years of existence, the Solutré Museum has been getting involved in a museographic project for improving and modernizing the presentation of collections and also for renewing the scientific thought and the new issues in research about prehistory.
Where can we find traces of Stone Age children in archaeological sources? Did prehistoric hunters and gatherers have a concept of childhood? Which finds and findings support this idea? The Neanderthal Museum, Mettmann (Germany) seeks to answer those questions in their latest temporary exhibition.