11 British Museum for 150,000 francs, approximately equivalent to £ 580,000 today. Augustus Franks, the keeper responsible for the north European archaeological collections at that time, had seen the reindeer in Paris but declined de l'Isle's selling price because it exceeded the Museum's entire annual acquisition budget. Nevertheless, he sent his assistant Charles Read to see the material in Toulouse. Read negotiated and bought the collection for £ 500, equivalent to about £ 30,000 today and half the price of the collection from Courbet Cave, a site just upstream from Montastruc, where engraved drawings of animals on bone had been excavated in 1864. Appropriately, Franks purchased the Montastruc collection with funds bequeathed by Henry Christy, a Victorian entrepreneur who used his fortune made in industry to excavate caves in south- west France. Christy's discoveries in collaboration with the great French palaeontologist Edouard Lartet in 1864- 5 had proved beyond doubt that, at a time when it was much colder, people had coexisted with mammoths and other animals now extinct in Western Europe, such as reindeer, saïga antelope, musk ox and bison. Peccadeau de l'Isle's place in history Today it is the great painted caves of Altamira in Spain and Niaux, Lascaux, Pech Merle and Chauvet in France that dominate our ideas of Ice Age art, but none of these sites was known when the Swimming Reindeer were unearthed at Montastruc. The first painted cave to be discovered was at Altamira, near Santander, in 1880. Inspired by seeing artworks such as the reindeer in France, the owner of the Altamira site, Marcelino de Sautuola, started to excavate at the entrance to the cave in the hope of finding similar pieces. His daughter, Maria, wandered further in and saw a fresco of bulls painted on the ceiling of an inner chamber. De Sautuola published the discovery but the paintings were regarded as fakes because they were so fresh and modern in appearance. Gradually other painted sites were found but it was not until 1904 that his detractors admitted they had been wrong and accepted the antiquity of sites with painted and engraved pictures on the walls.
12 There was never such doubt about drawings or carvings on bone, antler, ivory or small stone slabs, although the first recorded discovery was puzzling. In 1833 or 1834 a solicitor called André Brouillet found an engraved drawing of two female deer on a piece of reindeer bone in Chaffaud Cave, on his land in the hills between Poitiers and Angoûleme ( Fig. 4). Brouillet supposed the piece must have been made by the Celts, then thought to be the oldest pre- Roman inhabitants of France. His conclusion was not surprising at a time when the great age of the earth was generally accepted but the length of human antiquity was still considered to be no longer than 6,000 years, as calculated back through classical history and the Bible. This was to change with the recognition of the contemporaneity of stone tools and extinct animals found in gravels of the river Somme. Stone tools and human antiquity By the 1850s many discoveries of stone tools with the remains of extinct animals had been published, but geologists were often sceptical about them. Excavation techniques were rough and, without carefully recorded observations, the geologists were often right to suggest that tools and bones of quite different ages had come to be associated by natural processes. However, the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origins of the Speciesin 1858 offered a new view of humans as part of nature and subject 4 Drawing of two deer, incised on bone. Found in Chaffaud Cave, near Vienne, central- western France. Probably about 13,000 years old, L. 13.2 cm. Musée d'Archéologie Nationale, Paris