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The basic importance of food in the daily lives both of individuals and of communities, and the all-pervading influence upon outlook and social structure exercised by the methods adopted to ensure its adequate supply have become more and more widely recognized among students of ancient society during recent years (1). Rather less attention has yet been paid to water (2), that other necessity of life, bound up so intimately with the distribution and density of human settlement, and linked at the same time with man’s exploitation of his physical environment. Yet water-supply merits the closest attention, not only of those who approach prehistory from a functionalist point of view, but of all those whose studies are in the last resort based on archaeological material. In the first place, the connexion between human settlement and sources of water offers a cardinal clue to the location of ancient sites; in the second, the dampness of wells and springs has made for conditions favourable to the preservation of objects, organic as well as inorganic, which in the course of time have found their way into their recesses; and in the third, the veneration in which sources have been held has fostered from time immemorial the deposition in their waters of offerings as welcome to the archaeologist as to the spirits themselves.
The great developments that have taken place in the study of prehistoric archaeology during the present century have made it possible to outline with reasonable accuracy the major cultural movements associated with Western Europe for at least two and a half millennia before Christ. It is, therefore, fitting that some attempt be made to re-examine the cultural material of the proto-historic period in the West in the light of this vastly extended knowledge of prehistoric times.
The Spanish slopes of the Pyrenees and the Cantabrian chains are rich in classic caves and galleries of art of the Upper Palaeolithic Age. In the southeast Spanish coastal belt, on the other hand, while many shallow rock-shelters are adorned with lively painted scenes, classed by Burkitt as Group II of the Cave Art, no complete or stratified record of the activity of old stone age hunters had been published till Prof. L. Pericot Garcia explored scientifically the cave of Parpalló in the Province of Valencia in 1929–31. The sumptuous publication of his results, delayed of course by the civil war, is of exceptional importance as a contribution to fill in this painful hiatus in our knowledge but also for the very surprising results it records.
In their annual migration from the warm waters of the North Atlantic, the pilchard shoals rarely travelled further east than the coasts of Cornwall and southwest Devon. Here they were caught in vast numbers and preserved, for export or use, in fish cellars which lay along the coast. The Cornish fish cellar was a building of highly specialized type, in which the pilchards were salted and pressed. With the gradual disappearance of the pilchard fishery during the nineteenth century the cellars were first abandoned, and then became ruinous or were converted to other uses.
It has long been obvious that a new policy is wanted for our museums and their buildings. The need, often discussed, now takes on a new urgency. The second world war has visited our cities with insensate destruction on a scale which we have hitherto associated only with Acts of God. Some of our museums have already suffered —and as yet we cannot say when or where more will be damaged or destroyed. Replanning schemes will see old museums rebuilt, new museums established in many places; and now, while such schemes are being blocked out, is the time to see that individually and as a body the museums are planned and developed to the best advantage. The necessary driving force must come from a comparatively small body of people. For as a nation we can hardly be called museum conscious: we have no official museum policy, and the local efforts which are the substitute for it operate so unevenly that a large part of the population is quite without a service which ought to be of great educational and cultural value to all.