Saturday, 30 April 2016
Trowelblazers - Annette Laming Emperaire
This was a French archaeologist, who also joined the French Resistance during the Second World War. She specialised in cave art, and her techniques for recording the art are still in use today.
"It involves compiling minutely detailed inventories and diagrams of the way that species are grouped on the cave walls; of their gender, frequency, and position; and of their relation to the signs and handprints that often appear close to them." (from an article in The New Yorker by Judith Thurman in 2008).
She married Joseph Emperaire, also an archaeologist, who believed that early humans had come from South Asia to South America, and gradually worked their way up into North America, rather than the "ice bridge" theory that early humans came into America across the Bering Straits in the North. They dug several sites in South America, but Joseph died when a wall collapsed on him at a dig in Chile.
In the 1970s, Annette returned to South America, digging in Brazil, where she discovered the oldest human fossil known from Brazil, at around 11,000 years old.
In 1977, she died of asphyxiation in a shower with a defective gas heating element.