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Rock Art Science: The Scientific Study of Palaeoart

Robert G. Bednarik (Author)

This is the first comprehensive academic textbook about the application of scientific principles and methods in the study of pre-Historic art. The volume is especially intended for use by researchers, teachers, students, authors, conservators, site managers and administrators concerned with the study, analysis or protection of rock art, it is an essential source for academics in archaeology and several other disciplines concerned with this cultural resource. A tightly written text covers fundamental issues, such as the sometimes difficult task of discriminating between natural and humanly made rock marking; and various aspects of epistemology, including a summary of the historical development of the discipline. Detailed chapters consider the technology of rock art, how it was produced, all of the methods used in its dating, and those of recording rock art. The technical chapters are completed with a detailed description of rock art preservation and site management practices. The various approaches to the interpretation of rock art are examined, including those derived from ethnography, iconography, universals in art, internal analysis, statistics and taphonomy. Specific methods of rock art analysis are considered in a separate chapter, covering colour calibration, microscopy, nano-stratigraphy and physical sampling. This is followed by a discussion of the rich record of portable pre-Historic art object, such as manuports, mobiliary engravings, figurines, plaques, beads and pendants. Also considered are fakes and misidentifications, and the technological analysis of portable objects is detailed. This comprehensive, highly informative and thoroughly referenced up-to-date volume is completed with a glossary, a list of information resources and an index. Rock art research is a rapidly developing field of investigation that has traditionally suffered from idiosyncratic, disjointed and unfocused research efforts. This much-needed standard textbook provides not only a reference benchmark for the discipline, it brings to this task a relentless epistemic rigour and an uncompromising logic defining what is and what is not science in rock art studies.

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About the author

Robert G. Bednarik

Robert G. Bednarik is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Federation of Rock Art Organisations, the Australian Rock Art Research Association and the Cave Art Research Association and the Cave Art Research Association. He edits three academic journals and two series of monographs, and is also the Permanent Convener of IFRAO. Having produced about one thousand scientific publications, of which almost half have appeared in refereed academic journals, his interests range widely. besides palaeoart, they include the origins of human cognition, early hominin technologies, scientific dating methods and the philosophy of science. To underpin his understanding of the hominin ascent he has conducted extensive replicative experiments. For instance, to determine the minimum Pleistocene seafaring abilities he built many primitive rafts with stone tools and attempted to cross with them sea barriers known to have been breached by Ice Age marines, sometimes at considerable personal risk. His interest in ancient rock art is motivated by his desire to learn how hominins developed the earliest constructs of reality, and how these evolved to become what is now perceived as reality. It was initially prompted by his discovery, between 1967 and 1970, of the largest rock art concentration in the world, at Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia, Bednarik has worked extensively in every continent except Antarctica, but he has a special interest in India, where he discovered the currently oldest known rock art in the world, at the Bhimbetka site complex.

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Bibliographic information

Title Rock Art Science: The Scientific Study of Palaeoart
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2007
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 8173053189, 9788173053184
length viii+220p., Figures; References; Glossary; Index; 28cm.