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Title: Animals, art and society : rock art and material culture in ancient Central Asia
Author: Lymer, Kenneth J.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3614 3394
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2002
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The animal style has become an ubiquitous term in Scytho-Siberian studies, however, its overall acceptance has not let to any significant critical re-examination of the ideas which revolve around it. First I discuss the historical development and uses of the 'animal style' in Scytho-Scythian archaeology and rock art studies. The 'animal style' was part of the traditional art historical approach which involved the evolution of stylistic schools and Western value judgements of the perceived visual qualities of the art found in archaeological objects, while in rock art studies it was employed as a standard classificatory nomenclature by which the petroglyphs of the Iron Age were classified and dated. Furthermore, its meanings were explained through out-of-date notions of sympathetic magic, totemism, solarism, goddess and shamanism, which are rooted in traditional Western intellectual concepts of 'primitive' religion. To move Scytho-Siberian studies forward we need, crucially, to recognise that the art is socially situated and to utilise approaches that can bring more nuanced understandings to the rock art and material culture of Central Asia. Through the additional assistance of ethnographic analogy, I advance more considered approaches which explore the multiple roles and experiences of zoomorphic imagery. These are demonstrated through two case studies. The first involves data from petroglyph sites in the Republic of Kazakhstan, as I explore the way the animals in the rock art imagery were embedded in people's lives. Through the examination of the themes of animal, visions and power I demonstrate that it is possible to learn more about than petroglyphs and their places and spaces in the landscape. The second case study explores new facets of animals, art and society in the Pazyryk archaeological culture of the Gorno-Altai and East Kazakhstan. Previous approaches have considered the ornamentation of artefacts with animals as simple decorations or archetypal symbols which only treated them as passive reflections of society. Instead it is recognised here that the zoomorphic decorations in the material culture of the Pazyryk plays an active role in negotiating peoples identities in everyday life and were intimately connected to how individuals create and assert their own identities through their choices of decorative imagery on and off their bodies as well as upon the body of their horses.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available