Archaeology of the Mind - PowerPoint by dov51579


									Archaeology of the Mind

   Religion, Ritual and Art
           The Archaeology of Religion
Recognizing Religion in Archaeology (Renfrew)
  1.   attention-focusing settings or architecture
  2.   evidence of a perceived boundary between worlds
  3.   depictions of supernatural figures or deities
  4.   evidence of human participation or offerings
       •   devices for inducing religious experience
       •   material offerings, artifact destruction
  5. documentation of repeated actions of a symbolic
Attention-focusing Settings or Architecture

Greek Orthodox Altar                   Çatalhöyük Shrine

 Adena Burial Mound

                       Neolithic Megalith
   Evidence of a Perceived Boundary Between Worlds

                                      Cave sites as Entrances to the Underworld

Symbolic Representations of Upper
Worlds (Raphael‟s Transfiguration)

                                               Shamanic Axis Mundi symbolism

Mounds as Symbolic Islands (Earth and Water)
 Depictions of Supernatural Figures or Deities

Michelangelo‟s God
 (Sistine Chapel)

                               Venus of Willendorf   Neolithic Goddess
                               (Upper Paleolithic)

           Iroquois “False Face” Mask
Evidence of Human Participation or Offerings
    (devices for inducing religious experience)

                          Peruvian Snuff Tray
                             ca. 1000 AD

  Ohio Pipe
(ca. 200 BC)                                    Neolithic Beaker
                                                 (ca. 4,000 BC)
 Native American Rattle
    (Contact Period)
Evidence of Human Participation or Offerings
     (material offerings, artifact destruction)

    Human Sacrifice
  (Iron Age Denmark)                     Intentional Artifact Destruction

            Iron Age Weapon Sacrifices to Bogs or Rivers
   Documentation of Repeated Actions of a Symbolic Nature
                (Native American Bird Symbolism)

                                                      Middle Woodland Bird
 Late Archaic atlatl
                                                       Plate (ca. 500 AD)
weight (ca. 2,000 BC)          Early Woodland Bird
                               Tablet (ca. 500 BC)

                        Contact Period Calumet Pipe
                               (ca. 1800 AD)

                    Late Woodland Bird Pipe
                         (ca. 1300 AD)
             The Archaeology of Art
• Western, aesthetic view of art
• Art is:
   – Depictive (presents and image or shape)
   – Symbolic (images/shapes signify a concept or concepts not
     inherent in their form)
   – Abstracted (no such thing as “realistic art”)
• Earliest known art: portable art
   – Berekhat Ram (Israel) 230,000+ ya- female figurine?
   – engraved hematite ca. 77,000 BP in Africa
   – Earliest known painting: 35,000 BP in Zambia
• Creation of art can itself be a religious activity
   – e.g., Upper Paleolithic (ca. 35,000 BP) cave art as the visual
     remains of ritual practices
Blombos Cave, South Africa

         Engraved Hematite block, ca. 77,000 BP
Earliest Cave Art

    Zambia (35,000 BP)
Upper Paleolithic Portable Art
Upper Paleolithic Portable Art
     Upper Paleolithic Cave Art
• Primarily located in Central, Southern France,
  Northern and Eastern Spain
   – Altimira (Spain, first discovered, 1878)
   – Lascaux (France)
   – Chauvet (France, discovered 1994)
• Similarities
   – Deep caves, difficult to access
   – Paintings of animals, humans, thierianthropes,
     geometrics, hand prints (positive and negative)
   – Dates after ca. 35,000 BP (end of transition, beginning
     of Upper Palaeolithic)

Reindeer Stags

Auroch Bull
Explanations for Upper Paleolithic Art
• Aesthetic Explanation: “Art Pour L’Art”
  – 19th century: abundance of environment allowed
    primitive people leisure time from subsistence
     • Upper Paleolithic art created for simple aesthetic
  – No deep social significance
     • Maintained 19th century belief that ancient people were
       primitive in comparison to modern people
  – Non-explanatory (circular reasoning): aesthetic
    sense causes art, which causes aesthetic sense
     • Does not explain context of its creation
Explanations for Upper Paleolithic Art
• Sympathetic Hunting Magic
  – Abbé Henri Breuil (early 20th century)
    • Paintings of animals gave painters power over those
    • Allowed success hunting game animals, and
      protection from dangerous animals
  – But:
    • Not all animals depicted were hunted
    • Few of the images depict hunting in any direct way
    • Still does not explain context of art, or why it appears
      at that time in that place
 Explanations for Upper Paleolithic Art
• Structuralism (Mid 20th century, Claude Levi-Strauss)
  – Explains culture through Binary Oppositions
     • e.g., Nature:Culture; Life:Death; Light:Dark; Day:Night;
• Leroi-Gourhan: locations of animals a representation
  of mythic structure (“Mythogram”)
  – e.g., Male:Female=Horse:Ibex
     • Male symbols at entrances, dangerous animals in recesses, central
       area=male, male/female at center
  – Represents, and recreates, the structure of Upper
    Paleolithic society and worldview
• But:
     • Actual paintings not always in combinations or locations that the
       theory predicts
     • Defined entrance, center, recesses not by location, but by types of
       paintings present (faulty logic; determines what the data will imply in
Explanations for Upper Paleolithic Art
• Shamanistic Explanation
  – David Lewis Williams (The Mind in the Cave,
  – Cave images represent shamanistic visions
    experienced in altered states of consciousness
    • Incorporate visions experienced universally in
      hallucinations due to neural biology
  – Cave represents literal passage to spiritual
    underworld; cave walls „membranes‟ between
    worlds, which are penetrated by the process of
    • Possible role in shamanistic vision quests

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