Unit 8 Quiz
Available from Tuesday at 3 pm until
Friday at Midnight
Don’t forget that you must take 7 of
the 9 weekly quizzes to pass this
class!!
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
Unit 8
Lecture 2
The Archaeology of
Ideology, Ritual and Symbolism:
Paleolithic Art
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
The Upper Paleolithic
in Europe and Russia
35,000-10,000 BP
Associated with spread of anatomically modern
humans (Homo sapiens sapiens)
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
Explosion of Evidence for Art
and Symbolic Behavior
WHY?
Emergence of
humans w/ greater
capacity for abstract
reasoning (language)
or
Social and
demographic
changes at end of Ice
Age
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
What is Art?
A set of material practices and performances
Evokes feelings and responses
Not separable from worldview, politics,
economy
Part of social life
Way of making meaning
Must be understood in local and historical
context
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
Paleolithic Art: Caves
 32,000-10,000 BP
 First discovered in late 19th
century
 Over 300 painted cave and rock
shelter sites
 Concentrated in No. Spain
(Cantabria) and So. France
(Dordogne)
 Famous Sites: Altimira Cave,
Spain; Lascaux and Grotte
Chauvet, France
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
Entrance to Lascaux Cave
Portable Art
Figurines, personal
ornaments,
engraved plaques
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
Interpretations of Upper
Paleolithic Art (1)
Abbé Henri Breuil (1940s and 1950s)
Functionalist Approach
Caves were sacred sites or sanctuaries
Painting were part of rituals preformed to
increase success in hunting (“sympathetic
magic”)
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
Interpretations of Upper
Paleolithic Art (2)
Andre Leroi-Gourhan (1965)
Paintings part of elaborate system of meaning
with specific structure or grammar
(“mythogram”)
Based on division of world into male and
female elements
Compared cave art and portable art
Certain species chosen for depiction not because they are “good
to eat,” but because they are “good to think.”
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
Interpretations of Upper
Paleolithic Art (3)
Margaret Conkey (1980s+)
Contextual Approach (Geertz)
Art as social practice-- abstract, ambiguous-constructs meaning through its production and
use in specific social contexts
Must be understood in broader context of
Upper Paleolithic lifeways
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
Upper Paleolithic Lifeways
Rich, diverse environments
Seasonal but predictable resources
Mobile hunter-gatherers; collecting strategies
Required coordination and cooperation
Altamira--seasonal aggregation site--group
hunting of red dear and shell-fish collecting
Upper Paleolithic characterized by social life of materiality,
mobility and meaning making within a cultural landscape.
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
Individual and Corporate Identity
 More interaction between
groups--trade, exchange
of marriage partners,
competition, territoriality
 Greater elaboration of
local styles of material
culture
 Altamira: portable art
reflects complex mix of
diverse design elements
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
The Power and Meaning of Caves
Territorial markers
Sites of ceremonies and rituals that produce
and reproduce group identity
Part of cultural landscape--associated with
social memory, story telling, cosmic geography
Caves are liminal, “betwixt and between”-membrane between social/material and
spiritual worlds
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
“Reading” Altamira Cave
Female Bison = Core Group or Lineage
Other Animals = Outside Males or Visiting Groups
“In such cases, objects and artforms constitute the social
process and are not merely reflective of it.”
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005
According to Conkey...
Act of making cave art is way of creating
knowledge and meaning in the material
world
Makes personal experience public
Transmits social information
Aesthetically and symbolically charged
representation of social/material reality
Judith Habicht-Mauche, UCSC, Spring 2005