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The Shaman in the Cave? Testing for entoptic imagery in Upper Paleolithic geometric rock art.

Author(s): Genevieve Von Petzinger

Year: 2017

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It has been proposed that much of the rock art of Upper Paleolithic (UP) Europe can be interpreted as the result of shamanistic visions and related spiritual practices (e.g., Lewis-Williams and Dowson 1998; Clottes and Lewis-Williams 2001; Lewis-Williams 2002; Whitley 2005). This theory is based on a combination of analogy with modern hunter-gatherer groups, and recent neuroscience studies on the universality of human physiological response when in a trance state. Specific geometric signs found in UP art are frequently cited in these arguments as evidence of entoptic phenomena – abstract shapes seen during an altered state of consciousness – but what has yet to be explored is whether these particular images appear with a great enough frequency and in the appropriate contexts to verify this claim. This paper will address the question of whether the regularity and co-occurrence of geometric sign types identified as potential entoptic imagery supports the theory that UP art is the product of shamanistic visions.

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The Shaman in the Cave? Testing for entoptic imagery in Upper Paleolithic geometric rock art.. Genevieve Von Petzinger. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429194)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14650

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America