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Title: Reflections of human beings : the Aurignacian art of central Europe
Author: Porr, Martin
ISNI:       0000 0001 3495 2040
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2002
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The aim of this work is to explore an interpretation of the Aurignacian art of central Europe that is explicitly based on a critical anthropological and sociological reflection of the subject. Within a separate social field in society, artistic activity is only a relatively recent phenomenon of modernity and a product of specific historical circumstances. Past research has often applied this understanding of Palaeolithic representations and has to large extent failed to connect artistic objects with social processes in the Palaeolithic. In contrast, this work explicitly understands Palaeolithic art (and any material expression of human agency) as products of their particular social conditions. Consequently, a diachronic perspective is abandoned in favor of a synchronic approach in which representations are related to inferred contemporary social processes. A social theoretical framework is proposed that puts forward a distinction of material structures, practice and ideology, which have to be taken into account as equal causal factors in an understanding of any products of human practices. These analytical distinctions are applied to a specific body of Palaeolithic representational objects and their archaeological contexts. These are mainly sixteen pieces from three cave sites in the southwest German Jura mountains. All these objects can be ascribed to a contemporary context within an established Aurignacian occupation in central Europe around ca. 32,000 years BP. The analysis shows that the objects were produced within relatively informal contexts. Each object was apparently attached to individual human beings and represents an individual concern with the communal symbolic and/or social order. In this ideological structure animals and their behaviours were apparently metaphorically linked to ideas about human and gender-specific actions. It is therefore argued that the Aurignacian statuettes not only allow an unique insight into an ideological structure of abstract meanings in a Palaeolithic context, but also into the ways individual persons related to it.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Palaeolithic art