Gabriel de Mortillet

Mortillet, Gabriel de


Born Aug. 29, 1821, in Meylan; died Sept. 25, 1898, in St. Germain-en-Laye. French archaeologist.

Mortillet took part in the Revolution of 1848 in France. From 1868 to 1885 he was a member of the staff of the St. Germain-en-Laye Museum of National Antiquities, where he was the curator of the section on prehistoric antiquities. He developed a chronological classification of the development of Paleolithic cultures, based on differences in tool-making techniques and in the shape of the tools. Although Mortillet was an evolutionist in the tradition of C. Darwin, he erroneously maintained that it was possible to apply the laws of flora and fauna development to primitive human society and to the development of the forms of objects of material culture.


Musée préhistorique. [2nd ed.] Paris, 1903.
Doistoricheskaia zhizn’: Proiskhozhdenie i drevnost’ cheloveka. St. Petersburg, 1903. (Translated from French.)


Boriskovskii, P. I., and S. N. Zamiatin. “Gabriel’ de Mortil’e.” Problemy istorii dokapitalisticheskikh obshchestv, 1934, nos. 7–8.
References in periodicals archive ?
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Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban lists anatomist Ernest Aubertin, archaeologist Gabriel de Mortillet, and fellow Haitian scholar Louis-Joseph Janvier as Firmin's three (required) membership sponsors, going on to remark that he was admitted "with majority vote by secret ballot" on July 17, 1884 (2000a, p.
Prado also added that Gabriel de Mortillet was considering checking and documenting Desnoyer's data and publishing the results in his journal Materiaux pour l'histoire positive de l'homme (see Prado 1864: 306) appendix entitled Breves reflexiones sobre la antiguedad del hombre y su supremacia entre los demas seres.
Indeed we will have occasion later in these pages to reconsider the work of Gabriel de Mortillet (1821-1898), the fiery railway engineer, geologist and politician who rejoined the Musee des antiquites nationales in the mid 1860s to exert his growing domination on Palaeolithic research worldwide (see notably Coye 1997, Richard 2008, Schlanger 2014).
Also Desor's longstanding friend Gabriel de Mortillet, as Kaeser notes, proceeded by "determining on homogenous sites the characteristics of an epoch as a whole, before ordering each epoch one vis a vis the other: in this undertaking, the study of archaeological stratigraphy seems to have occupied a meagre position, overwhelmed by the a prioris of unilinear evolutionism" (ibid.
Four French prehistorians have been chosen, who followed one another and partially overlapped in time: Gabriel de Mortillet (1821-1898), Emile Cartailhac (1845-1921), Salomon Reinach (1858-1932) and Henri Breuil (1877-1961).
The opinions of Gabriel de Mortillet, who led the way interpretatively in the field of prehistory until the mid-1880s, were decisive.
The representations of bone and antler objects found at paleolithic sites in dordogne (Christy and Lartet 1864) were hence conceptualized by Gabriel de Mortillet (1883: 415-421) as a lesser art form, craftwork that may well have been done by paleolithic "savages" through an ingenuous reproduction of nature, but certainly foreign to any kind of symbolic-religious thought.
(1899a): Gabriel de Mortillet. Revue Historique, 24eme annee, 69: 67-95.