The Nature Of Paleolithic Art

Hardcover | February 1, 2006

byR. Dale Guthrie

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The cave paintings and other preserved remnants of Paleolithic peoples shed light on a world little known to us, one so deeply embedded in time that information about it seems unrecoverable. While art historians have wrestled with these images and objects, very few scientists have weighed in on Paleolithic art as artifacts of a complex, living society. R. Dale Guthrie is one of the first to do so, and his monumental volume The Nature of Paleolithic Art is a landmark study that will change the shape of our understanding of these marvelous images.

With a natural historian's keen eye for observation, and as one who has spent a lifetime using bones and other excavated materials to piece together past human behavior and environments, Guthrie demonstrates that Paleolithic art is a mode of expression we can comprehend to a remarkable degree and that the perspective of natural history is integral to that comprehension. He employs a mix of ethology, evolutionary biology, and human universals to access these distant cultures and their art and artifacts. Guthrie uses innovative forensic techniques to reveal new information; estimating, for example, the ages and sexes of some of the artists, he establishes that Paleolithic art was not just the creation of male shamans.

With more than 3,000 images, The Nature of Paleolithic Art offers the most comprehensive representation of Paleolithic art ever published and a radical (and controversial) new way of interpreting it. The variety and content of these images—most of which have never been available or easily accessible to nonspecialists or even researchers—will astonish you. This wonderfully written work of natural history, of observation and evidence, tells the great story of our deepest past.

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From the Publisher

The cave paintings and other preserved remnants of Paleolithic peoples shed light on a world little known to us, one so deeply embedded in time that information about it seems unrecoverable. While art historians have wrestled with these images and objects, very few scientists have weighed in on Paleolithic art as artifacts of a complex...

R. Dale Guthrie is professor emeritus of zoology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He is the author of Frozen Fauna of the Mammoth Steppe: The Story of Blue Babe, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

other books by R. Dale Guthrie

Format:HardcoverDimensions:520 pages, 10 × 8.5 × 1.4 inPublished:February 1, 2006Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226311260

ISBN - 13:9780226311265

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Customer Reviews of The Nature Of Paleolithic Art

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from revolutionary and quite convincing Guthrie brings to the study of the art his training as a zoologist, his experience as a routine big game hunter around his home in Alaska, and his remembrance of once being an adolescent male flush with hormones. What I found the most revealing about his work is that through careful statistical study of preserved footprints in the caves and hand stencils on the walls, most of Paleolithic art was executed by adolescent males. Also, the vast majority of the work is not particularly competent work, much like what the average teenage boy scribbles on the cover and in the margins of his school notebook. Far from being the product of shamanistic magic, most of the cave art seems to be the product of raging male adolescence.
Date published: 2009-06-11

Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface: Reassembling the Bones
Note on the Illustrations
1. Drawn from Life
2. Paleolithic Artists as Naturalists
3. Tracking Down the Pleistocene Artists: The Unemphasized Role of Children
4. Testosterone Events and Paleolithic Imagery
5. The Art of Hunting Large Mammals
6. Full-Figured Women—In Ivory and in Life
7. The Evolution of Art Behavior in the Paleolithic
8. Bands to Tribes: The End of the Pleistocene and the Extinguishing of Paleolithic Art
9. Throwing the Bones: Paleolithic Art and the Evolution of the Supernatural
Appendix 1. Paleolithic Handprint Analysis, by Arny Blanchard
Appendix 2. An Intuitive Way to Look at the Hand Biometrics Using Bivariate Plots
Acknowledgments
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

"[The book] offers readers fascinating informaiton about and challenging interpretations of Paleolithic art. This book is a good read--Guthrie is an excellent writer--and is based on meticulous scholarship presented in a lively and engaging way."