Paul Rivet  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Paul Rivet (18761958) was a French ethnologist, who founded the Musée de l'Homme in 1937. He was also one of the founder of the Comité de vigilance des intellectuels antifascistes, an antifascist organization created in the wake of the February 6, 1934 far right riots.

Rivet proposed a theory according to which South America was populated by settlers from Australia and Melanesia. Trained as a physician, he took part in the Second French Geodesic Mission to Ecuador in 1901. He remained for six years in South America. When he returned to France, he was active with the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, directed by René Vernaus.

His notes were published along with René Vernaus' notes between 1921 and 1922 under the title Ancient Ethnography of Ecuador. In 1926, Paul Rivet participated in the establishment of the Institut d'Ethnologie in Paris, where he taught many French ethnologists. In 1928, he succeeded René Vernaus as director of the National Museum of Natural History.

Rivet's theory asserts that Asia was the cradle of the American man, but also that migrations took place from Australia some 6,000 years before, and from Melanesia somewhat later. Les Origines de l'Homme Américain ("The Origins of the American Man") was published in 1943, and contains linguistic and anthropological arguments which suppprt his thesis.

In 1942, Paul Rivet went to Colombia where he founded the Anthropological Institute and Museum. Returning to Paris in 1945, he continued teaching while carrying on his research. His linguistic research introduced several new perspectives on the Aymara and Quechua languages.




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