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Eduardo Ripoll Perelló

1923 - 28th March 2006

Appreciation by
Francisco Gracia Alonso

In 1916, Pere Bosch Gimpera brought together a small group of students and colleagues at the University of Barcelona (UB) who were the forerunners of what would become known as the Catalan School of Archaeology. Though the group's founder member was forced into exile after the Civil War, the main researchers (L. Pericot, J. Serra Rafols, J. Colominas) remained at the University or at the Archaeology Museum of Barcelona (MAB), under the leadership of Martín Almagro Basch. The first generation were gradually joined by new specialists (J. Maluquer de Motes, P. de Palol, A. Arribas, A. Balil, and M. Tarradell) who, in spite of the new political climate, kept alive the memory of their absent master. One of the most influential of these scientists was Eduardo Ripoll Perelló.

Born in Tarragona in 1923, Ripoll Perelló entered the university relatively late, beginning his studies in philosophy and arts at the University of Barcelona in 1947. He graduated in 1953, receiving the premio extraordinario, the prize awarded to the year's outstanding graduate. During the preparation of his PhD thesis he received grants to study at the Institut d'Ethnologie du Musée de l'Home in Paris (1950-1951) and at the Escuela Española de Historia y Arqueología in Rome (1956). His PhD dissertation, entitled Arte Paleolítico Español, supervised by Almagro and influenced by Henri Breuil, was presented on 17/11/1956 to a tribunal comprising Pericot, Almagro, Tarradell, Castillo and Amorós. The work was awarded the national prize for the best thesis in 1958.

On completing his degree, Ripoll had continued at the UB as an assistant lecturer, teaching practical courses in Prehistoria General and Historia de Oriente from 1953 to 1955. After another stay in Paris, he was appointed course coordinator, a post which he held from 1956 until 1968 when he began to teach at the University of Oviedo as an aggregate lecturer (1969-1970). However, very soon he moved to the Autonomous University of Barcelona where he taught the first class given at the new institution, on 6 October 1968.

He began his association with the Archaeology Museum of Barcelona in 1947 as a pupil of Martín Almagro, who would become his mentor in his dealings with political and government institutions. From January 1948 until February 1958 Ripoll was temporary assistant conservator, rising to the post of conservator in 1958, along with Carlos Cid Priego, beating Juan Maluquer de Motes and Antonio Arribas Palau, thanks to the support of Almagro, in a hard-fought and controversial competitive examination. He remained in this post until the 30 November 1981, but after Almagro's definitive transfer to Madrid he was named acting director of the museum by the Provincial Council of Barcelona on 11/04/1961, though his appointment was only officially confirmed by the ministry on 19 August 1966, when he was also named director of the Archaeology Museum of Ampurias. He stayed at the MAB for twenty years until 30 November 1981, when, following in the footsteps of his mentor, he was named, after competitive examination, director of the National Archaeology Museum in Madrid, a post he would hold until 1986.

Since the site of Ampurias was the property of the Provincial Council of Barcelona, the director of the MAB was also in charge of the museum and the excavations carried out in the Phocaean colony and Roman city. Though trained as a pre-historian and not as a classical archaeologist, Ripoll promoted research and was successful in his efforts to make the site of Ampurias known to a wider public. For 20 years he led the Cursos Internacionales de Arqueología de Ampurias, created in 1947 by Almagro and Pericot, and made them an indisputable reference point in the study of Roman archaeology and colonizations. He invited experts from research centres in Spain, France, Germany and Italy to participate, and the history of the courses is recorded in Miscelánea Arqueológica, XXV Aniversario de los Cursos Internacionales de Prehistoria y Arqueología en Ampurias (1947-1971) (1974). He also contributed to the remodelling of the Monographic Museum of Ampurias, inaugurated in 1961 to replace the first exhibition created by Almagro in 1945. In 1969 Ripoll published Ampurias, descripción de las ruinas y Museo fonográfico, the first modern guide to the site, which was translated into French (1969), English and German (1970), Catalan (1974) and Dutch (1978) and represents his main contribution to the study of the excavations. Though he carried out some studies of numismatic findings, the relations of the Phocaean colonists with the indigenous populations, or the late stages of the Republic, he did not organize his work in a study that gave an account of the interventions carried out each year. Among more general studies we should mention his speech on the occasion of his admission to the Reial Acadèmia de Bones Lletres de Barcelona, (08/06/1978) on the subject of the Els orígens de la ciutat romana d'Empuries, and the book Els grecs a Catalunya (1983) an exhaustive historiographic analysis of the site of Ampurias.

His work at the Archaeology Museum of Barcelona centred on three main areas: the reorganization of the permanent exhibition, the dissemination of prehistory and archaeology through exhibitions and lectures, and the promotion of the institution as an advanced research centre following the lines laid down by Bosch Gimpera at the museum's inauguration in 1935. In the first area we should mention his publication of the guide to the museum (in conjunction with M. Llongueras) entitled Museo Arqueológico de Barcelona. Guía abreviada (1981), and the project supported by the Provincial Council of Barcelona for the establishment of a monographic museum at the Ibero-Roman site of Sant Miquel (Olèrdola, Barcelona). On the subject of this site, he wrote a study entitled Olérdola. Historia de la ciudad y guía del conjunto monumental y Museo Monográfico (1971). In the second area, he was particularly active in organizing scientific meetings, among which the most important were the Simposio Internacional de Arte Rupestre (Barcelona, 1966), the Simposium Internacional de Colonizaciones (Barcelona-Ampurias, 1971), and the Simposium Internacional sobre los orígenes del Mundo Ibérico (Barcelona, 1976); he pursued this involvement later on in Madrid, promoting the I y II Congreso Internacional sobre el Estrecho de Gibraltar (1988 and 1990), and the I y II Congreso de Historia de los Pirineos (1988 and 1998). Less known abroad, but no less important were his participation in the Ciclos de Cine Arqueológico, and his support for the association Grupo de Colaboradores del Museo de Arqueología de Barcelona as a meeting point for people from non-academic backgrounds who had carried out archaeological work in the old framework of the Comisarías Arqueológicas created in 1939 after Franco's victory, and others who were interested in archaeological research, but who in many cases were carrying out activities that were not supervised or sanctioned by the authorities. By bringing them together in a structure that depended on an official body it was far easier to control illegal research and thus stop the destruction of the country's historical and archaeological heritage. Later, in 1983, this body helped to set up the Societat Catalana d'Arqueologia - not without certain difficulties - which, no longer associated to Archaeology Museum of Catalonia (MAC), had among its members a great many experts and other people interested in the promotion and protection of Catalonia's archaeological heritage.

Ripoll became an associate lecturer at the Autonomous University of Barcelona when the institution was created in the 1967-1968 academic year, and was asked by the director of arts studies, Professor Federico Udina Martorell, to organize teaching in prehistory and archaeology. Ripoll became vice-dean at the faculty of philosophy and arts. At the faculty he supervised the PhD theses of researchers such as E. Sanmartí (1973), J. Padró (1975), J.L. Maya (1975), T. Gimero (1975), J.Mª. Nolla (1977), R. Montanyà (1979), A.Mª. Pujol (1981), Mª.A. Petit (1986), and J. Nieto (1988). After moving to the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) in Madrid, in 1986 he was appointed professor of prehistory, a post he held until his retirement in 1993, when he became emeritus professor. During this period he supervised the PhD theses of A. Lopez Mullor (1988), F. Gusi Gener (1988), R. Fábregas (1990), J. A. Gómez Barrera (1991), M. Ayarzagüena (1992), A. Alonso (1993), M. Mas (1998) and B. Orezoli (1998), mainly on the subject of cave paintings. He also participated in the foundation of the Laboratorio de Estudios Paleolíticos (LEP), remaining a member until his death. The LEP is now directed by his son Sergio Ripoll Lopez, a tenured lecturer in prehistory at the UNED.

In the area of research management, in 1959 Ripoll participated in the creation of the Instituto de Prehistoria y Arqueología de la Diputación de Barcelona (IPA), of which he was named director on 15/03/1963. The Institute was set up to succeed the Servicio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas (SIA) of the Mancomunitat de Catalunya created by the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (IEC) in 1915, and headed by Bosch Gimpera from its foundation until 1939, and to succeed the later service created by the Provincial Council of Barcelona after the Civil War; this unit, also known as SIA, had taken over the service set up by the Generalitat which supervised archaeological research in Catalonia, also under the leadership of Bosch Gimpera between 1935 and 1939 and based at the MAB. However, the IPA was also born of the break with the University of Barcelona which set up its own Instituto de Arqueología y Prehistoria; at this point, for personal reasons and differences between researchers, the museum and the UB ceased to work together. The staff and resources were divided still further in 1968 when the MAB became affiliated to the recently created Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). Though very active between 1961 and 1981, the IPA stagnated after Ripoll's departure, and its functions were taken over by the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia when the museum was absorbed by the Generalitat, Catalonia's Autonomous Government.

Ripoll's career at the MAB is indissolubly linked to his work on the journal Ampurias, created in 1939. He joined in 1949 as secretary and copy editor, later taking up the post of co-director in 1962 with the founder Martín Almagro, and was director from 1968 to 1980. During this period he was the driving force behind the journal, publishing a multitude of articles, chronicles of scientific reunions and bibliographical references. At the MAB he also created the journal Información Arqueológica, which he directed between 1970 and 1981 and which publicized the activities of the IPA and the museum, and the series Quaderns de Treball (1979), in conjunction with the Autonomous University of Barcelona. His work as an editor includes the series Corpus de Monumentos Megalíticos (in conjunction with Luis Pericot) between 1961 and 1979, and Monografías de Arte Prehistórico (1961-1979), co-edited by the IPA and the Werner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and which he would continue in Madrid where he founded the series Ars Praehistorica (1982), which he directed until 1988, and the Boletín del Museo Arqueológico Nacional, which he edited from 1983 to 1986. He was also a member of the editorial board of the journals Índice Histórico Español (1953) where he coordinated reviews on prehistory and archaeology from 1970 onwards, Rivista di Studi Liguri (1972), Fonaments (1978), Revista de Arqueologia (1980), Trabajos de Prehistoria (1981-1986), L'Anthropologie (1983), Bulletin du Musée d'Anthropologie Préhistorique de Monaco (1984), Proserpina (1984), Archeo (1985) and Espacio, Tiempo y Forma (1987). On his return to Barcelona in 1987, he became director of the Butlletí de la Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi (1993) and of the Boletín de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona (1995).

Though Ripoll's main research interest was prehistory, he also participated in some archaeological excavations, such as the trips to the Caverna dei Pipistrelli (Finale Ligure, Italy) with Martín Almagro, the results of which he published in 1957 with Almagro and A.Mª. Muñoz, and the Cueva de Ambrosio (Vélez Blanco, Almeria) between 1958 and 1960, reported in 1961 in Ampurias (XXII-XXIII, 31-49), which rapidly became known in the scientific community through the review by D. Sonneville-Bordes in L'Anthropologie (67, 370-371). As a member of SIA, run by the Provincial Council, he researched at a range of sites in Catalonia, covering a vast chronological period from the palaeolithic levels of Abric Romani (Capellades), where he worked with H. de Lumley, to Iberian settlements such as Moleta del Remei (Alcanar) and Puig Castellar (Santa Coloma de Gramanet). However, in 1951 he wrote one of his earliest studies on the cave paintings of Puente Viesgo, beginning a major study that would culminate in 2002 in the publication of the monograph El arte de los cazadores paleolíticos. Ripoll, whose PhD thesis had centred on the classification and chronology of cave art, became one of Spain's leading specialists in this field, maintaining frequent contact with specialists abroad, such as A. Leroi-Gourhan, H. de Lumley, F. Bordes, D. de Sonneville-Bordes, R. Vaufrey, R. Lantier and many others.

After analysing the paintings of Monte del Castillo (1952), la Cueva de las Monedas (1954, 1955, 1956), and La Pasiega (1954 and 1956), he published his first general work in the area: Las representaciones antropomorfas en el arte paleolítico español (1958) (Ampurias, XIX-XX, 167-192), which earned him an international reputation, thanks also to his Recent Research on the Prehistory of Spain (1960) written in conjunction with L. Pericot (Current Anthropology, I, 2,139-145). In 1961 he helped to organize the Wartenstein Symposium on the Rock Art of Western Mediterranean and Sahara, whose proceedings, which he also wrote in conjunction with Pericot for the Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology, were published under the title Prehistoric Art of the Western Mediterranean and the Sahara (1964). This work had a major impact on studies of post-palaeolithic art, by establishing definitively the recent chronology of Levantine Art and refuting the opinions of researchers such as Bosch Gimpera who favoured classifying it as Upper Palaeolithic. Together with studies of cave art from all over the Iberian Peninsula, Ripoll also produced monographs on Los abrigos pintados de los alrededores de Santolea (1961), Las pinturas rupestres de la Gasulla (1963), La cueva de las Monedas en Puente Viesgo (Santander) (1972), Las cuevas del Monte del Castillo (Puente Viesgo, Santander) (1977) and above all his Orígenes y significado del arte paleolítico (1986). He also wrote more than fifty specialist articles and contributions to scientific congresses and meetings on subjects of wall and portable art. Ripoll studied cave art not only in the Iberian peninsula, but in sites as far afield as Patagonia, Tassili, Nubia, and Larhemland (Australia).

Like many other archaeologists Ripoll was fascinated by the East. He participated in the Spanish archaeological mission to Nubia under the auspices of UNESCO, publishing the monograph La necrópolis de Masmas, Alto Egipto (1964), together with Almagro and L. Monreal, and contributing to the catalogue of the exhibition in which the results of the mission were displayed. However, his most important work is probably Prehistoria e Historia del Próximo Oriente (1965), a truly comprehensive study of the subject; again, we find parallels with Bosch Gimpera, who published in Barcelona and Mexico an ambitious Historia de Oriente. Disseminating knowledge in an engaging way is something that only a few researchers are capable of doing. Ripoll was an assiduous contributor to encyclopaedias, writing numerous articles on prehistory and archaeology, translating books and articles, and supporting the Spanish editions of a great many studies by adding prefaces which, of course, bore his prestigious name.

Ripoll's scientific production is also characterized by his interest in the historiography of prehistory. In Ampurias (Barcelona), the Boletín del Museo Arqueológico Nacional (Madrid), and Butlletí de la Reial Acadèmia de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi (Barcelona), from 1957 he wrote biographies of many researchers, personal friends and scientific reference points such as H. Begouën (1957), H. Breuil (1962), H. Kelley (1963), A. Glory (1966), G. Isetti, R. Vaufrey and L. F. Zotz (1967), L. Meroc (1969), J. de C. Serra Rafols, A. Garcia Lorenzo and A. Garcia and Bellido (1972), P. Wernert (1973), P. Bosch Gimpera (1975), M. Oliva Prat (1975 and 1977), N. Llopis (1976), L. Pericot (1978 and 1980), E. Junyent (1979), S. Vilaseca, A. Duran i Sanpere and A. del Castillo (1980), F. Bordes (1982 and 1983), H. Schlunk (1983), A. Leroi-Gourhan (1986 and 1991), A. Balil (1990), H. Lothe (1993 and 1994), M. Gomez Moreno (1995), M. Fernandez Miranda (1995), P. de Palol (1996), and Miquel Llongueras (1998).

He paid special attention to the life and work of Pere Bosch Gimpera, the founder of the Catalan School of Archaeology, devoting a tribute to him in 1967 in Ampurias (XXIX, 305-308) when Bosch Gimpera was still living in exile in Mexico, and the monograph Pere Bosch Gimpera, fundador del Museu d'Arqueologia de Barcelona (1977), the first wide-ranging biography of an academic figure who had been rector of the University of Barcelona (1933-1939) and minister of justice in the Generalitat under the Republic (1937-1939). Ripoll devoted great efforts to the analysis of the figure of Abbé Henri Breuil, his master in the study of cave art; indeed, he always considered a particularly privileged pupil for the Abbé's. Ripoll wrote his first study shortly after their first meeting in Paris (A propósito de un aniversario. El Abate Breuil y el arte rupestre español, 1953) and coordinated and edited the Miscelánea en Homenaje al Abate Henri Breuil (1877-1961) in 1964. In 1994 he published one of his favourite works, the extensive biography El Abate Henri Breuil (1877-1961), which he later completed with a reference work entitled Abate H. Breuil. Antología de textos (2002), an analysis of the career of the French scholar through his correspondence and original writings. In these works Ripoll's admiration for Breuil is plain to see as he describes the Abbé's close relationship with Spain through his frequent visits to study cave paintings in the Peninsula. He also edited a variety of monographs on his Spanish correspondence (which Breuil left to him after his death) on the findings from Minateda (Albacete) (1988), and those of Hermilio Alcalde del Rio (1993) and Juan Cabre (1999). His editions of Breuil's manuscripts bear witness to the profound respect and friendship that existed between the two scholars.

The international dimension of Ripoll's scientific work is reflected in his membership of many institutions worldwide, including the Société Préhistorique Française (1949), the Société Préhistorique de l'Ariège (1950), the Istituto Internazionale di Studi Liguri (1951), the Deutsches Archaeologisches Institut (correspondent in 1954 and full member in 1972), the Centro Internazionale di Studi Sardi (1956), the Istituto Italiano di Prehistoria e Protohistoria (1957) and the Hispanic Society of America (1981). He was also awarded the rank of académico by the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (1970), the Real Academia de la Historia (1972), the Reial Academia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi (1975) and the Reial Acadèmia de Bones Lletres de Barcelona (1974), an institution of which he was president from 1996 until his death. He received the Gold Medal for Cultural Achievement of the Diputación de Barcelona (1972), the Civil Order of Alfonso X the Wise (1972), the Medal of Honour of the association Amics dels Museus de Catalunya (1983), the insignia of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France (1987) and many others. Nonetheless, the highest recognition he received was from the Union Internationale de Sciences Préhistoriques et Protohistoriques (UISPP), of which he was appointed a member of the permanent commission and executive committee in 1980. On his retirement in 1993, he was named member of honour, an accolade awarded to very few researchers (among them, two leading figures of the Barcelona School, Bosch Gimpera, representative first of Spain and then of Mexico during his exile, and Luis Pericot). Bosch Gimpera was organizer of the meeting in Bern in 1932, the first international congress in prehistory and protohistory, from which the future UISPP would be born, and Pericot was president of this institution and the Madrid Congress of 1954.

Besides Ripoll's indisputable merits as an academic and researcher, he will also be remembered for his kindness and bonhomie. An excellent conversationalist, his professional involvement over a period of more than fifty years gave rise to a great many anecdotes which he always included in his stories. As a member of a generation situated between the founders and the reformers of the Catalan School of Archaeology in which the figure of the master was essential to the existence of the research, he was able to maintain the spirit of the discipline's origins and at the same time to act as a bridge with younger scholars who were able to create the basis for the multidisciplinary development of the research teams that now staff Catalan research centres. Professor Ripoll died in Barcelona on 28/03/2006.