The Nature of Paleolithic Art

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, 2005 - Nature - 507 pages
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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The nature of Paleolithic art

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Guthrie, professor emeritus of zoology at the University of Alaska, is not the typical art historian, and this is not a typical art history book. Guthrie brings his expertise in zoology, paleontology ... Read full review

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A fascinating book that delivers much more than what the title promises. The author is a biologist and a skilled visual artist who takes his readers into the world of the Old Stone Age. Along the way, he fills in his description of that world with fascinating facts about ancient climate, human behavior in all eras, hunting, drawing, and coping with the challenges of life. This book is one of my ten most recommended books after reading hundreds and hundreds of books in the last four decades.  

Contents

The Art of Hunting Large Mammals
209
FullFigured Womenin Ivory and in Life
303
Paleolithic
435
Art just what is it anyway? Can we look at Paleo Appendix 1 Paleolithic Handprint Analysis
461
vote great quantities of time and resources to
471
My answer is yes 373 WSWWTP Index
497
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Page 488 - How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.

About the author (2005)

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.

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