Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

European Upper Paleolithic Rock Art: Sacredness, Sanctity, and Symbolism

  • George Nash
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1860


Where, Why, and How

In this entry, I discuss, albeit briefly, the evolutionary development and research history relating to Upper Paleolithic parietal rock art in Europe which, based on current research, probably represents more than 30,000 years of artistic endeavor. The physical act of producing art is not confined to engravings and paintings on static surfaces; a significant portable art assemblage comprising engraved antler, bone, and ivory, and often occurring alongside cave and rockshelter rock art, is also attested over the same period. Cave contexts have, in addition, revealed clay sculptures and bas-relief images carved from stone, such as the two clay bison at Tuc d’Audoubert (Ariége), the sculpted head of a horse at Camargue in the Dordogne, and plaquettes – simple animal-and human-engraved images on stone and clay tablets. In the past labeling, these assemblages as “art” have proved contentious (see Ucko & Rosenfeld 1967); it is my view that this aesthetically...

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Further Reading

  1. Chippindale, C. & G.H. Nash.(ed.) 2004. Figurative landscapes of rock-art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Chippindale, C. & P. Taçon. (ed.) 1998. The archaeology of rock-art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
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  5. Whitley, D.(ed.) 2001. Handbook of rock art research. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Archaeology & AnthropologyUniversity of BristolBristolUK