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Professor Jacques Cauvin (1930 – 26 December 2001) was a French archaeologist who specialised in the prehistory of the Levant and Near East.
Cauvin started his work in France at Oullins and Chazelles Caves in 1959 and 1960 and then Chandolas in 1965. He began to specialise in archaeology of the Middle East in 1958 when Maurice Dunand invited him to assist with excavations and studies of the stone tool industries at Byblos in Lebanon. He carried out seven seasons there until 1967, which included surveys extendeding to Lebanon's Mediterranean coast. Cauvin's extensive typological studies of this fully excavated site are still used as references for students of lithics today. Also at this time he began studies in Syria at Horan in 1962, in the Jezireh in 1969 and excavations at Taibe in 1965 and Tell Aswad in 1972. Because of his experience in this area, he was chosen to lead excavations at the major site of Mureybet, originally discovered and surveyed by Maurits van Loon. Mureybet was a large-scale rescue operation and had at the time the longest stratigraphic sequence seen since the excavation at Tell es-Sultan to the south. Excavations and multidisciplinary studies were conducted from 1971 to 1974. Flooding of the site prevented further work. Another season was carried out at the neighbouring and partly contemporary site of Sheikh Hassan in 1976.
Another important site was discovered and surveyed by van Loon around this time at El Kowm where the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs agreed with the Syrian authorities to study a large 30-kilometre (19 mi) area without the constraints of urgency at Mureybet. In 1977 Cauvin prepared the groundwork for the permanent mission to El Kowm-Mureybet (Syria), which he retained leadership of until 1993, when he was replaced by Danielle Stordeur. In 1978, Cauvin was asked by the Turkish government to launch a new rescue campaign on the Euphrates at Cafer Hoyuk which ended in 1986 due to flooding of the area. His work on these various important sites and the materials collected have highlighted the steps in humanity's development through the late Natufian to the end of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB).
In 1966, with the support of the CNRS and other research fellows, he founded the Centre de Recherche d'Ecologie humaine et de Préhistoire (CREP) in a converted mill in southern Ardeche to study and stock collections of stone tools and work on the problems of the Neolithic. These collections include paleobotanical and archaeozoological specimens and everything related to the manufacturing (technology) and use (traceology) of stone objects and bones. This developed into the Maison de l'Orient Méditerranéen Ancien, equipped with a library, meeting rooms and accommodation on site.This has further developed and is now called the Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée.
He remained a researcher at the CNRS throughout his career, successively as Research Fellow in 1957, "Chargé" in 1966, Master in 1977, Director in 1983 then Director Emeritus in 1995. He taught in Paris from 1978 to 1982 and Lyon from 1977 to 1982 in the form of courses or seminars directing Masters degree programs. Cauvin was regarded as an objective thinker, prolific author, charismatic team leader and one of the great French experts on prehistory.He was married to Marie-Claire Cauvin, also a Director at CNRS, author and specialist in Near East Archaeology.
Sortie Poche France/Français : 2013-04-25
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