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Title: Critiquing a social aesthetic for the British Middle Pleistocene : the origins of art and the twisted biface?
Author: Davies, Richard William
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 4356
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis is concerned with developing a theoretical rationale and critical methodology by which we can test for the existence of proto-artistic behaviours. In doing so it seeks to ask whether art as we understand it in the modem world is an emergent phenomenon or whether 'primitives' of this phenomenon can be identified. The first part of the thesis sets out to critique and develop upon existing models of how art is conceptualised in archaeology, using developments in the philosophy of art, primatology and neuroscience. The result of this is an appeal to acknowledge a greater role for the aesthetics of gesture ,during the production and use of material culture. This is then proposed to be one potential 'primitive' of a later emergent art that may be archaeologically identifiable within the Middle Pleistocene. The second part of the thesis sets out a suitable case study for the testing of this assumption, the so called 'twisted ovate biface tradition' of the later British Acheulean. A methodology by which the twisted shapes of these objects may be tested for evidence of a gestural aesthetic is then developed and the objects subjected to statistical analyses. The results of these analyses, whilst affirming that there is a significant concentration of twisted pieces within sites of this period, show inconclusive evidence of the potential for an aesthetic of gesture being imbued within the object in a manner that would allow distribution of meaning and identity within a social network. As such these objects cannot be said to show evidence of being proto-artistic in the sense defined by this project.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available