Catholic Scientist of the Past

Henri Breuil

February 28, 1877 to August 14, 1961

Henri Breuil (February 28, 1877 to August 14, 1961) Nicknamed the “Pope of Prehistory,” Breuil was a French Catholic priest and archaeologist who became recognized in his lifetime as the world’s foremost authority on prehistoric cave art.  At the age of 23 he was ordained a priest of the Sulpician order. One year later he participated in the discovery of two major sites of cave art and for 61 years thereafter studied cave art at sites all over the world, spending (by his own estimate) a total of seven years in subterranean caves.  In 1952, Breuil published his masterpiece Four Hundred Centuries of Cave Art, which contained his meticulous drawings of paintings from 92 caves.  Breuil also made important contributions to understanding the classification and chronology of prehistoric industries. The Abbé Breuil (as he was generally called) was Professor of Archaeology at the Collège de France from 1929 to 1947 and was appointed a member of the prestigious Institut de France in 1938. In 1924, he was awarded the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal by the (U.S.) National Academy of Sciences. 

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