What Is Palaeolithic Art? by Jean Clottes

by stephenpalmersf

Jean Clottes has worked in the field of Palaeolithic art for most of his life, and is an acknowledged expert. In this volume he gives an overview of what he thinks this extraordinary art signifies. First, he gives an overview of older, less sophisticated European interpretations, before giving his own, which chimes in with the work of David Lewis-Williams, who strongly supports the shamanic view of such art. A longer section on ethnographic comparisons follows, and it’s notable that Clottes is very careful to disentangle inappropriate comparisons between modern “primitive” tribal peoples and human beings of 40,000 years ago. However, he does think that useful comparisons can be made, not least in the area of constantly being surprised as to what certain aspects of rock art might mean. A final section ties everything up and gives the man’s credo. This is a fascinating work; thoughtful, sophisticated, and imbued with much experience.