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Title: Metabolism, mythology, magic or metaphor? : animals in the rock art of Thailand
Author: Winch , Lauren
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2013
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A common feature of many rock art corpora is the inclusion of animals, both naturalistic and fantastical. For a long time it was assumed that animals in the art simply related to actual or desired prey species. In recent decades, however, research has increasingly revealed rock art to be full of subtle nuances, mythological phenomena, multifaceted magic and potency, and metaphorical references to various aspects of society and culture. In line with this burgeoning interest in the multiplicities inherent within rock art, the central aim of this thesis is to examine which animals feature in the rock art of Thailand and why. Evidence outlined in this thesis suggests that the rock art of Thailand was created almost exclusively within the last 4000 years and consists of anthropomorphic figures, wild animal species, domesticated animals, geometrics and boats. This thesis explores the specific social and environmental contexts of rock art in Thailand alongside considerations gleaned from rock art research in other parts of the world, and uses this in the analysis of data gathered during primary fieldwork in May-July 2011. Fieldwork was conducted in two study regions: the southern peninsula and inland mountains. The key conclusion of this research project is that metabolic, mythological, magical and metaphorical considerations all played a part in the inception of prehistoric rock art in Thailand in different and often complimentary ways. Another important deduction is that the notions of personal and collective identity permeate both the inland and peninsula datasets, albeit idiosyncratically manifested through alternative methods of literal and metaphorical representation. Fieldwork findings and secondary sources suggest that the rock art was most likely produced by communities who were predominantly hunter-gatherer-fishers who may have also practiced a certain degree of mixed subsistence strategies. Domesticated animals appear to be absent from the painted record of the peninsula region yet dominate the faunal repertoire of the inland sites; alongside archaeological evidence from the two regions from the period between 5,000-2,000 BP I therefore conclude that the peninsula painting communities had a subsistence economy which continued to be more strongly centred on hunter-gatherer lifeways than their inland counterparts in the face of expanding agricultural practices in Southeast Asia.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available