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Ice Age Panorama. Living in Switzerland 15'000 years ago. An interactive travelling exhibition on palaeo-lifeway facts and fiction

English title Ice Age Panorama. Living in Switzerland 15'000 years ago. An interactive travelling exhibition on palaeo-lifeway facts and fiction
Applicant Mueller Werner
Number 171624
Funding scheme Agora
Research institution Laboratoire d'archéozoologie Institut d'archéologie Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline Prehistory
Start/End 01.02.2017 - 30.06.2019
Approved amount 210'786.00
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All Disciplines (2)


Keywords (7)

Public outreach; Ice age; Lifeways; Lateglacial; Magdalenian; Travelling exhibition; Palaeoecology

Lay Summary (French)

« Ice Age Panorama » sera une exposition itinérante spécialement conçue pour les centres commerciaux. Programmée pour 2018, année européenne du patrimoine culturel, elle se déplacera dans onze cantons qui ont livré des traces d’occupation humaines datant de la dernière glaciation. Elle vise à développer un regard critique sur les représentations extravagantes, comiques, voire erronées de l’ « Âge de glace ». Les scientifiques accompagnant le panorama échangeront avec le public sur réalité et fiction du mode de vie il y a 15000 ans.
Lay summary

Le projet « Ice Age Panorama » s’inscrit dans le prolongement d’une recherche  soutenue par le FNS qui a eu pour objet d’étude la mobilité des groupes humains au Tardiglaciaire en Suisse. Il s’inscrit également dans la continuité des recherches menées depuis plus de trente ans sur les sites magdaléniens d’Hauterive-Champréveyres et de Neuchâtel-Monruz, fouillés en bordure du lac de Neuchâtel, préalablement à la construction de l’autoroute A5.

« Ice Age Panorama » est un dispositif de communication dont le pilier principal est un panorama itinérant. Par référence au nomadisme des populations qui vivaient pendant la dernière glaciation, l’exposition se déplacera à un rythme rapide à travers onze cantons qui ont livré des traces d’occupation datant de la culture magdalénienne. Elle a pour objectif de donner une vision de l’Âge de glace en meilleure adéquation avec les données scientifiques que celle donnée par de nombreux autres médias.  Elle sera produite en collaboration avec les services et musées cantonaux d’archéologie, les laboratoires d’archéozoologie  ainsi que les associations cantonales d’archéologie et d’histoire naturelle qui programmeront des événements en parallèle lors du passage du panorama dans leur région.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.01.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
124457 Dynamique de l’exploitation du territoire au cours du cycle saisonnier par les populations de chasseurs tardiglaciaires: la mobilité des groupes humains sur le Plateau suisse et dans le massif du Jura au Magdalénien 01.05.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)


Ice Age Panorama will provide a view of human lifeways during the “Ice-Age” that is more in line with the latest scientific progress and in stark contrast to the fictitious images spread by numerous movies, video games, novels and other media on that theme. Today, the popular representations are rather fanciful, drawn from productions depicting scenes of tribal wars, coexistence of dinosaurs and humans, fights against wild animals, incongruous hunting techniques or naïve representations of human groups living harmoniously with idyllic nature. The project aims to correct these clichés by bringing in elements that will help sorting out facts from fictions and showing on what evidence researchers base their interpretation. It aspires furthermore at leading to a qualitative increase in knowledge about a period that, albeit having great media coverage, remains poorly understood by the public, and at advocating the interdisciplinary approach now widely applied in prehistoric archaeology.An SNSF-funded project regarding the lifeways of the population occupying the Swiss territory at the end of the last glacial period was carried out from 2009 to 2012. This project was a follow-up to three decades of intensive research initiated by the discovery of two major archaeological sites on the shore of Lake Neuchâtel. The study was instrumental in renewing profoundly our understanding of the climate and environmental conditions prevalent 15,000 years ago, after the Last Glacial Maximum. Furthermore, we now have a better grasp on the kind of subsistence strategies developed by societies whose diet relied entirely on hunting. Consequently, we have been able to develop a regional model of the occupation of the Swiss Plateau and the Jura mountains.The communication formats chosen to share these results in an interactive way include a number of coordinated actions, the main one being a mobile exhibition conceived specifically for shopping centres. Named “Ice Age Panorama”, it will be adapted to places with a high density of people and will thereby reach a diverse spectrum of society in terms of age and social background. In analogy to the ways of the nomadic Palaeolithic hunters, the exhibition will move frequently and stop in eleven cantons (GE, VD, NE, FR, BE, SO, LU, JU, BL, AG, SH) where traces of human occupation from the last glacial period have been found. The large panorama-type module will carry the visitor 15,000 years back to a time when the mean annual temperature was 10 °C lower than today, and will show how people found solutions to adapt to those climatic conditions. Another smaller complementary module, developed in close collaboration with the different archaeological offices and cantonal museums, will display what is particular for the visited canton. The accompanying scientists will engage in a dialogue with the public through a quiz game to which the answers can be found while exploring the panorama.To complement the travelling exhibition, public lectures on the reviewed themes will be organized together with regional associations in history, natural sciences and archaeology. Five archaeozoology laboratories will open their doors to the winners of the quiz to learn about this profession and, concurrently, archaeological offices and regional museums will program similar events. Ultimately, open access to a completed e-book will allow inquisitive people to learn more about the lifeways during the Lateglacial period in Switzerland and provide them with a better understanding of the long history of humankind.This approach intends to move archaeology out of the museums, its traditional communication centres, in order to generate a dialogue with a part of the public that generally does not visit established cultural institutions. The success of this objective will be assessed to verify the real impact it had. In addition, the evaluation will determine whether this concept can be applied to share and communicate knowledge in other fields.