Picture of author.
21+ teosta 885 jäsentä 8 arvostelua

Tietoja tekijästä

David Lewis-Williams in Professor Emeritus and Senior Mentor in the Rock Art Research Institute, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Image credit: J. David Lewis-Williams at Chauvet

Tekijän teokset

Fragile Heritage (1999) 9 kappaletta

Associated Works

The Archaeology of Shamanism (2001) — Avustaja — 42 kappaletta

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Beautifully illustrated brief book for a public audience outlining Clottes’ belief in a shamanistic explanation for parietal art.

The authors review previous theories (art for art’s sake, totemism, sympathetic magic and structuralism) gauging how these theories helped or hindered our current understanding of prehistoric cave art. Examples are mostly drawn from southern Europe, but ethnographic comparisons are global. Late 20C neuropsychological research into the unity of hallucinogenic experience (3 stages of the trance state) is used as a springboard for interpretating ubiquitous symbols and construction methods across multiple locations and time periods.

Well written but occasionally appears sentences were muddled in translation from the French. The arguments build nicely up to the last chapter; at that point, where it does become more hypothetical, I did not always follow the argument. To keep the book shorter, I think some connecting thoughts and explanations may have been lost. A very good introduction to the cave art itself (although more images from other parts of the world would have been very helpful in seeing connections) and a solid foundation for proposing a shamanistic interpretation.
… (lisätietoja)
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saschenka | Apr 11, 2022 |
A very daring attempt to explain, frame and interpret what we now label as 'Neolithic art'. This does not regard the famous cave paintings from the south of France or Spain, because these date from a much older period (the Palaeolithic). Instead Lewis-Williams and Pearce focus on the art in the earliest towns and cities of the Neolithic Age, the period when man began to engage in agriculture, roughly 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, and about 8 to 5,000 years ago in Europe. More specifically, the authors zoom in on the plastered skulls and the anthropomorphic and geometric carvings in the Middle East and the megalithic structures in western Europe. They do this systematically using a very specific neurological model called the 'three stages theory'. This focuses on processes of ‘altered states of consciousness’, typical of (pseudo)religious rituals where dance, sound and hallucinatory substances are used, to get people into a state of trance. For Lewis-Williams, those experiences are the source of religious images and actions, and the entire book attempts to systematically view and explain the archaeological finds from that perspective.
Lewis-Williams's approach has met with quite a bit of resistance in archaeological circles, for indeed, it turns the classical paradigm that human behavior stems from adaptation to the environment on its head; for him, human action has its origin in the brain and nervous system. That sounds very deterministic, but Lewis-Williams has nuanced and adjusted his theory over the years. In this book he tries to illustrate this through the focus on Neolithic Art. Anyone interested in the archeology of the Middle East and Western Europe, from roughly 10,000 to 5,000 years ago, will certainly find what they are looking for in this book, with what seems a lot of new and detailed information. But the very theoretical approach, based on the neurological-cognitive model, often feels rather forced, especially because Lewis-Williams again and again tries to prove his point. I found this an interesting attempt to go beyond the limitations of the purely archaeological method, but at the same time a very speculative yet still quite deterministic approach. More on that in my History account on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/923899251.
… (lisätietoja)
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bookomaniac | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Aug 24, 2021 |
A hard turd forced out by two vein-faced bigots. One straining, the other pressing down on his gut. It purports to apply the findings of neuroscience to the archaeological remains of the Neolithic. In reality it claims religion to be the result of hallucinations and they propose in it’s place a religion of their own devising called Science. The book is marred by boasting, pride and arrogance. They make grandiose claims about how their thinking is much better than anyone else’s. Yet their reasoning is fundamentally flawed.

Take pages 78-9. They criticise the ‘functionalist’ explanation of ritual pig slaughter in Pacific societies, that it is to regulate the pig population. They call this a tautology and descriptive rather than explanatory: “The function of x is to do what it does”. They claim to be breaking out of the tautology by explaining that serial burials in the Near East were done to help the dead. Can’t they see that their explanation is just as functional? Their problem is that in their materialistic conception of the world slaughtering pigs controls their numbers, but the dead don’t need to be helped. If you think the dead need to be helped then doing something for them is just as functional. They say that helping the dead was done for mythological reasons. Maybe they had myths about how the dead would come back and get them if they weren’t serially buried. Maybe the Pacific societies had stories about what the pigs would do if there were too many of them. The problem is that the authors’ religious beliefs are intruding into the argument. They believe that too many pigs is a problem but they’re not afraid of ghosts.

Look, I believe in the Big Bang. I believe that it’s an event that has actually happened. I could tell you a story about how it happened. That story would be a myth, an attempt to explain in narrative some fundamental truth about the universe that explains the way it is. I could tell you the same story using a more precise language like mathematics. It would still be a myth. Just because it’s a myth doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

How can two people lacking even a basic self awareness hope to start their own religion? Or are they aware that their arguments are faulty? Do they have so little respect for the reader that they think we won’t notice? Is this a scam?

I’m particularly angry because the book claims to be about the Neolithic. I wanted to read a book about that. If I’d wanted the nasty views of two horrible bigots I’d have logged on to Twitter.
… (lisätietoja)
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Lukerik | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 23, 2020 |
Interesantísimo libro acerca de los orígenes del arte, su incidencia en la organización de las sociedades primitivas, la relación mas o menos contemporánea de los neanderthales y sus vecinos homo sapiens.
La lectura la realizo al simultáneo con "Las Religiones en la Prehistoria" de Inna Wun, dos libros complementarios.
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jose.gabriel | 1 muu arvostelu | Jan 27, 2018 |



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