Reading through a paper by David Pleurdeau "in press" in the African Archaeological Review, I stumbled upon a reference to the original discoverers of Porc-Epic Cave, a Middle Stone Age (MSA) site in Ethiopia. Almost everyone interested in the MSA of East Africa knows that P. Theillard de Chardin (1930) was one of them (see also Pleurdeau 2005); fewer know that Henri de Monfreid was the other. Fewer still probably know about Henri de Monfreid, a French expat (mainly) who lived an adventurous life on and along the coast of the Red Sea, trafficking in weapons and other things, and doing a number of things often not completely within the bounds of the law. As it happens, Monfreid was also a very talented and prolific writer who captured a number of his experiences in written form. The first Monfreid book I had the pleasure to read back in 1994 was La croisière du Hachich, translated into English under the title Hashish (a fantastic read!), and I've been hooked ever since, reading compulsively anything of his I've come across over the years. A good overview of Monfreid's life and artistic output (he was also a painter) is provided by P. Baraduc in his Henri de Monfreid: Flibustier de la Mer Rouge (1998).
He is, hands down, one of my favorite writers, and it was a small pleasure to learn that he had, on top of all else he did over his lifetime, done paleoanthropological and ethnological work.
Baraduc, P. 1998. Henri de Monfreid: Flibustier de la Mer Rouge. Collection "Grandes aventures." Arthaud, Paris.
Monfreid, H. de. 1933. La croisière du Hachich. Grasset, Paris.
Pleurdeau, D. 2005. Le Middle Stone Age de la grotte du Porc-Épic (Dire Dawa, Éthiopie) : gestion des matières premières et comportements techniques: Porc-Epic cave (Dire Dawa, Ethiopia). L'Anthropologie 107:15-48.
Pleurdeau, D. 2006. Huma technical behavior in the African Middle Stone Age: the lithic assemblage from Porc-Epic Cave (Dire Dawa, Ethiopia). African Archaeological Review 22: in press. (DOI: 10.1007/s10437-006-9000-7)
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