Prehistoric Art - Part Two

Contributed by:  Tim Gill

This is the follow up to Part 1 of the “Prehistoric Art” course syllabus shared by Tim Gill. See below the complete weekly schedule with readings.

Weekly Schedule and Readings

Week 1: Introduction

Friday, January 23, 2015:

Overview of course and course requirements, and a short lecture introducing the subject of Prehistoric Art.

Reading:  None required, however, it is recommended that you scan through White, Prehistoric Art, and read Chapter 1 (“Introduction”) if possible.  (If you are feeling ambitious, you might consider getting started on the readings for Monday 1/26.)

Week 2: Anthropology and "Art"

Monday, January 26:  

Discussion:  The Anthropology of Art.
Reading: White, Prehistoric Art, Chapter 1 (“Introduction”); White, Prehistoric Art, Chapter 2 (“Art, Culture, and the Issue of Context”); Morphy, Traditional and modern visual art of hunting and gathering peoples; Conkey, Hunting for images, gathering up meanings:  art for life in hunting-gathering societies; NY Times Article 11/4/14:  Thanks to Giacometti, Sotheby’s Hits Its Highest Total Ever at Fall Opening.

Friday, January 30:  

Lecture and Discussion:  Symbolism, Meaning and Material Culture.
Also:  Panel sign-up sheets will be available in class.
Reading: Rossano, Making Friends, Making Tools and Making Symbols; Hodder, The Archaeological Process, Chapter 4; Hodder, Material Practice, Symbolism and Ideology.


Week 3: The European Ice Age

Monday, February 2:  

Lecture:  Life in the European Ice Age:  Global Cooling, Neanderthals, and Modern Humans.
Reading: Lewis-Williams, The Mind in the Cave, Chapter 3; Wynn and Coolidge, How to Think Like a Neandertal, Chapter 1 (“True Grit”); Fagan, Cro-Magnon, pp. 118-122; 124-126; and Chapter 7.

Friday, February 6:  

Lecture:  Survey of the Art of the European Ice Age; and FILM:  Marsoulas, The Forgotten Cave.
Deadline to sign up for a Panel.
Reading: White, Prehistoric Art, Chapter 3 (“Painted Caves, African Women, Cro-Magnons, and the Scientific Imagination”); White, Prehistoric Art, Chapter 4 (“Prehistoric Representation in Western Europe”); White, Prehistoric Art, Chapter 5 (“Prehistoric Representation in Central and Eastern Europe and Siberia”).
Recommended:  Conkey, The Identification of Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherer Aggregation Sites, the Case of Altamira.


Week 4: Cognitive Theories and Prehistoric Art

Monday, February 9:  

Lecture and Discussion:  The Embodied Mind and Another Look at the Question of “Meaning.”
Reading: Johnson, The Meaning of the Body, Preface, Introduction, pp. 92, 155 and 273-278, and Chapter 10; Johnson, Mind Incarnate, from Dewey to Damasio; Conkey, New Approaches in the Search for Meaning.

Friday, February 13:  

Lecture:  Cognitive Fluidity, Conceptual Blending and Metaphor
Reading: Mithen, Seven Steps in the Evolution of the Human Imagination.
Gill Dissertation:  Excerpt; Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors we live by, Chapter 1 (“Concepts we live by”); Turner, The Way We Imagine.


Week 5: Human Physical Engagement with Cave Art

Monday, February 16:  NO CLASS, Presidents’ Day.

Friday, February 20:

Lecture:  Case Study on the Embodied Mind and the Experience of Cave Art:  the imagery of the cave of Les Trois Frères, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Southern France.
Reading: Fagan, Cro-Magnon, Chapter 11; Clottes, Sticking Bones into Cracks in the Upper Paleolithic; Bégouën et al, General Conclusion in La Caverne Des Trois-Frères; Leroi-Gourhan, Treasures of Prehistoric Art, pp. 366-368. (OK to skim items 3 and 4 – just get an idea of the amazing variety of images and material culture in this cave)


Week 6: Humans and Other Animals; and the Roles of Women in Prehistoric Art

Monday, February 23:  

PANEL # 1:  The Human-Animal Connection
Reading: Cook, Ice Age Art, Chapter 5 (“Animals in Art”); Shipman, The Animal Connection and Human Evolution; Harrod, selections from The Animals Came Dancing.

Friday, February 27:  

Guest Lecture/Discussion with Professor Meg Conkey:  The Roles of Women in Archaeology and in the Ice Age
Reading: Owen, Distorting the Past, Gender and the Division of Labor in the European Upper Paleolithic, Introduction and Chapter 6; Hays-Gilpin, From Fertility Shrines to Sacred Landscapes.
Chaussonnet, Needles and Animals:  Women’s Magic; Mellars, Origins of the Female Image.


Week 7: Deeper into the World of Ice Age Art

Monday, March 2:

FILM:  Cave of Forgotten Dreams, by Werner Herzog.  This film shows the incredible cave art of the Grotte Chauvet in Southern France.  It will take the entire class session (we may need to start a few minutes early).
Reading: Interview with Herzog, from Nature; Clottes, Cave Art, pp. 32-53.
Clottes, Chauvet Cave, The Art of Earliest Times, Chapter 5 (“The Techniques of Parietal Art”).

Friday, March 6:  

Discussion of Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Review of Course for Midterm.
Reading: Robert-Lamblin, “An Anthropological View,” from Clottes, Chauvet Cave, The Art of Earliest Times.

Review your notes and the assigned readings; come to class with questions about the material covered to date.


Week 8: Midterm, and High-Tech Approaches to the Study of Prehistoric Art

Monday, March 9:   MIDTERM EXAM.

Friday, March 13:  

Guest Lecture and Demonstration:  Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), with Carla Schroer of Cultural Heritage Imaging.
Reading: Fritz and Tosello, The Hidden Meaning of Forms, Methods of Recording Paleolithic Parietal Art; Website of Cultural Heritage Imaging, see ; Sisk, Three Dimensional Gigapan Views of Archaeological Sties and Artifacts:  Examples from the Paleolithic of Southwest France.


Week 9: Early Evidence of Human Artistic Expression and Shamanism

Monday, March 16:

Lecture:  Very Early Art.
Reading: Appenzeller, Old Masters; Rodriguez-Vidal, A Rock Engraving Made by Neanderthals in Gibralter; Henshilwood, A 100,000-year-old Ochre-Processing Workshop, at Blombos Cave, South Africa; Balter, Early Start for Human Art; Joordens, Homo Erectus at Trinil on Java used shells for tool production and engraving.

Friday, March 20:  

PANEL # 2:  Shamanism.
Reading: Guenther, From Totemism to Shamanism; Bahn, Membrane and dumb brain:  A close look at a recent claim for shamanism in Paleolithic art; Lewis-Williams and Clottes, Shamanism and Upper Paleolithic Art:  A Response to Bahn; Recommended:  Dobres, Review of The Shamans of Prehistory:  Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves and of Journey Through the Ice Age.

[Spring Break, March 23-27, 2015]


Week 10: Neuro-Physiological Approaches, and Native American Art

Monday, March 30:  

Discussion:  Neuro-Psychological Approaches to Cave Art.
Reading: Blundell, On Neuropsychology in Southern African Rock Art Research; Lewis-Williams, Signs of All Times, Entoptic phenomena in Upper Paleolithic Art;

Friday, April 3:  

Guest Lecture and Discussion:  Native American Art, with Dr. Dave David
Reading: White, Prehistoric Art, Chapter 8 (“Prehistoric Representation in the Americas”); David, The Archaeology of Myth:  Rock Art, Ritual Objects, and Mythical Landscapes of the Klamath Basin.
Recommended:  Hahn and Bettles, House of the Rising Sun: Using the Ethnographic Record to Illuminate Aspects of Klamath Basin Rock Art.

Week 11: Native American Prehistoric Art, and Rock Art from Southern Africa

Monday April 6:

FILM:  Talking Stone, Rock Art of the Cosos.  Discussion of film.  Guest Instructor:  Dr. Dave David
Reading: Fagan, Art on the Rocks; Zorich, The Storm God’s Tale, from Scientific American; Keyser, A Lexicon for Historic Plains Indian Rock Art:  Increasing Interpretive Potential.

Friday, April 10:  

Discussion of Deciphering Ancient Minds, Part A:  Review of the approach taken by the authors. Is it valid?  How well can we understand prehistoric art using this approach?
Reading: Lewis-Williams and Challis, Deciphering Ancient Minds, Preface, A Note on Pronunciation, and Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Also, Final Project/Paper Research Topics (including 5 key resources) due.


Week 12: Panel Week; North America and Africa

Monday, April 13:  

Panel # 3:  Native American Art.
Also:  Discussion of Deciphering Ancient Minds, Part B:  Review of the Argument and Conclusions of the Authors.
Reading: Lewis-Williams and Challis, Deciphering Ancient Minds, Chapters 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 (i.e. through the end of the book).

Friday, April 17:  

Panel # 4:  The Prehistoric Art of Africa.
Reading: White, Prehistoric Art, Chapter 6 (“Prehistoric Representation in Africa, the Near East, and Anatolia”).


Week 13: Asia and Australia

Monday, April 20:  

Lecture and Discussion:  The Rock Art of Asia.
Reading: Aubert et al., Pleistocene Cave Art from Sulawesi, Indonesia; Pons-Branchu et al., Uranium Series Dating of Carbonate Formations Overlying Paleolithic Art:  Interest and Limitations; Demattè, Beyond Shamanism, Landscape and Self-Expression in the Petroglyphs of Inner Mongolia and Ningxia (China).

Friday, April 24:  

Discussion:  Rock Art of Australia
Reading: White, Prehistoric Art, Chapter 7 (“Prehistoric Representation in South Asia, Australasia, and Australia”); Rosenfeld et al., Rock Art Revisited.


Week 14: Topics in the Study of Prehistoric Art

Monday, April 27:  

Discussion:  Music; and “Materialism”:  There is More to Art than the End Product.
Reading: Conard et al., New Flutes Document the Earliest Musical Tradition in Southwestern Germany; Adler, The Earliest Musical Tradition; McDermott, The Evolution of Music; Conkey, Materialists and Symbolists.

Friday, May 1:  

Preservation of Prehistoric Art.
Reading: Graff, Heritage at Risk:  Saving Beauty; Butler, French Bid to Save Rock Art; Butler, Heritage and the Present Past.

Week 15: Reading, Review, and Recreation Week

Monday, May 4:  

Lecture:  Review and Summary of the Course.

Friday, May 8:  

Meetings to help you prepare your Final Projects.  By this point your Final Projects should be close to done.  This class period will be dedicated to helping you sort out any lingering issues.  We will have a short general discussion of problems that may be of interest to everyone, and then individual consultation on specific issues for those who would like to do so.
Readings:  There are no new assigned readings for this week.

Final Papers/Projects Due:  Monday,  May 11,  11 am.