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Unit 8 Quiz. Available from Tuesday at 3 pm until Friday at Midnight. Don’t forget that you must take 7 of the 9 weekly quizzes to pass this class!!. Unit 8 Lecture 2. The Archaeology of Ideology, Ritual and Symbolism: Paleolithic Art. The Upper Paleolithic in Europe and Russia.
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Unit 8 Quiz Available from Tuesday at 3 pm until Friday at Midnight Don’t forget that you must take 7 of the 9 weekly quizzes to pass this class!!
Unit 8Lecture 2 The Archaeology of Ideology, Ritual and Symbolism: Paleolithic Art
The Upper Paleolithic in Europe and Russia • 35,000-10,000 BP • Associated with spread of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens)
Explosion of Evidence for Art and Symbolic Behavior • WHY? • Emergence of humans w/ greater capacity for abstract reasoning (language) or • Social and demographic changes at end of Ice Age
What is Art? • A set of material practices and performances • Evokes feelings and responses • Not separable from worldview, politics, economy • Part of social life • Way of making meaning • Must be understood in local and historical context
Paleolithic Art: Caves • 32,000-10,000 BP • First discovered in late 19th century • Over 300 painted cave and rock shelter sites • Concentrated in No. Spain (Cantabria) and So. France (Dordogne) • Famous Sites: Altimira Cave, Spain; Lascaux and Grotte Chauvet, France Entrance to Lascaux Cave
Portable Art • Figurines, personal ornaments, engraved plaques
Interpretations of Upper Paleolithic Art (1) • Abbé Henri Breuil (1940s and 1950s) • Functionalist Approach • Caves were sacred sites or sanctuaries • Painting were part of rituals preformed to increase success in hunting (“sympathetic magic”)
Interpretations of Upper Paleolithic Art (2) • Andre Leroi-Gourhan (1965) • Paintings part of elaborate system of meaning with specific structure or grammar (“mythogram”) • Based on division of world into male and female elements • Compared cave art and portable art Certain species chosen for depiction not because they are “good to eat,” but because they are “good to think.”
Interpretations of Upper Paleolithic Art (3) • Margaret Conkey (1980s+) • Contextual Approach (Geertz) • Art as social practice-- abstract, ambiguous-- constructs meaning through its production and use in specific social contexts • Must be understood in broader context of Upper Paleolithic lifeways
Upper Paleolithic Lifeways • Rich, diverse environments • Seasonal but predictable resources • Mobile hunter-gatherers; collecting strategies • Required coordination and cooperation • Altamira--seasonal aggregation site--group hunting of red dear and shell-fish collecting Upper Paleolithic characterized by social life of materiality, mobility and meaning making within a cultural landscape.
Individual and Corporate Identity • More interaction between groups--trade, exchange of marriage partners, competition, territoriality • Greater elaboration of local styles of material culture • Altamira: portable art reflects complex mix of diverse design elements
The Power and Meaning of Caves • Territorial markers • Sites of ceremonies and rituals that produce and reproduce group identity • Part of cultural landscape--associated with social memory, story telling, cosmic geography • Caves are liminal, “betwixt and between”-- membrane between social/material and spiritual worlds
“Reading” Altamira Cave Female Bison = Core Group or Lineage Other Animals = Outside Males or Visiting Groups “In such cases, objects and artforms constitute the social process and are not merely reflective of it.”
According to Conkey... • Act of making cave art is way of creating knowledge and meaning in the material world • Makes personal experience public • Transmits social information • Aesthetically and symbolically charged representation of social/material reality