Archaeology of Art

  • Created by: Lauriie
  • Created on: 26-04-19 18:55
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  • Archaeology of Art
    • Origins of Art
      • Key question: did other hominimsmake art, or is it something reserved for humans?
        • site of grotte du renne; most persuasive evidence for behavioral complexity among Neanderthal
          • A range of ornaments and tools usually associated with modern human industries, such as the Aurignacian, were excavated from three of the Châtelperronian levels at the site, along with Neanderthal fossil remains (mainly teeth)
            • Whether Neanderthals independently achieved this level of behavioral complexity and whether this was culturally transmitted or mimicked via incoming modern humans has been contentious.
              • Carbon dating: mixing of contexts:  the evidence from the Grotte du Renne ought to be viewed with extreme caution
        • Zilhao 2003: The Emergence of Ornaments and Art: An Archaeological Perspective on the Origins of “Behavioral Modernity”
          • The earliest known personal ornaments come from the Middle Stone Age of southern Africa, c. 75,000 years ago, and are associated with anatomically modern humans.
            • In Europe, such items are not recorded until after 45,000 years ago, in Neandertal-associated contexts that significantly predate the earliest evidence for the immigration of modern humans
            • Blombos cave, southern cape: perforated shells used as beads
            • In Africa, the earliest figurative art is represented by the much later painted slabs from Apollo 11 Cave in Namibia
          • t the emergence of “behavioral modernity” was triggered by demographic and social processes and is not a species-specific phenomenon; 
            • a corollary of these conclusions is that the corresponding genetic and cognitive basis must have been present in the genus Homo before the evolutionary split between the Neandertal and modern human lineages.
          • Clear evidence for complex abstract thinking involving graphic modification of objects in connection with ritual activities comes from the Mousterian graveyard of La Ferrassie in France
            • The La Ferrassie 1 individual, an adult male, was buried in a shallow pit together with a cylindrical bone fragment decorated with four sets of parallel incisions
        • 2011: redating of the neandertal material at grotte du renne
          • reject the notion that the association of symbolic artifacts with Neandertals at the Grotte du Renne results from large scale localized or small scale generalized displacement of artifacts and human remains. the  explanation for the anomalies observed in the radiocarbon dating of the sequence is incomplete decontamination of the bone samples used.
    • Portraiture
      • generic- use of 'generic features' to potray an idea or institution
      • referential: portraits which embody institutions rather than individuals.
        • Use of assemblages of material culture to embody institutions.
          • Prestige economy in la tene and vix c 500 BC: to be civilised is to have access to certain luxury goods eg from the south.
            • hillforts and mounds dominate the landscape; a symbol of ancestor rights to the land?
            • Vix burial: female, physically disabled.
              • torc; we can tell she is an elite. central asian horses depicted on torc
              • amber from baltic coast
              • greek cauldron and vessels for mixing wine
              • 1500 bottles of wine
              • body placed on chariot
              • black painted vessels from greece for celebration
              • large, decorated krater.
            • Hohenasperg
              • huge burial mound, 40 year old man on wheeled bed
              • chariot loaded up with vessels for feasting
              • large cauldron for drinking mead, 9 drinking horns
              • golden shoe ornaments, golden dagger and sheath
              • birch hat with same design as shoes and earing
              • golden torc
              • comb, razor and nail cutters.
              • material culture is a reference to feasts, and probably kinship.
            • material culture of feasting = kinship and wealth
            • the burial as a referential portraiture showing the activities of the person and that they represent the kinship
      • iconic/ representational: images that are clearly recognizable for what they purport to be
        • In moche portaiture, the idea of the sacrificial ceremony is embodied, but also the individual is portrayed at various stages in their life.
          • pottery portays individuals from their teenage years to death.
            • Individuals on the pots are wearing the same bandanas. we also find these same patterns in graves.
              • this shows a strong relationship between the reality and the art
            • 'Long-nose': depicted through his life as a winning warrior, but finally meets his end as a sacrificial victim.
            • 'cut-lip': also portrayed from around the age of 10, eventually loses the battle.
          • how do they embody the ritual? 1) the pottery potraits of individuals who participate. 2) the scene is found on murals and pots. murals depicting the warriors are found on temple walls, so even if you don't participate in the ritual you know it is happening.
            • everyone is involved: eg sun temple has 45 million bricks, many have signatures from different communities.
      • Key question: if a portrait is a representation of a person or group of people, can you have portraiture in cultures where personhood is differently defined?
    • Theory
      • Intention? Aesthetic?
        • Is art a process or a physical reality?
          • Physicality: role of colour and texture
          • Aesthetic: Art is about aesthetics and beauty, and we can’t generalise about these cross-culturally
        • Intention: Art is a social technology used to create psychological effects (Gell) Making recognisable • Convincing • Reassuring • Frightening • Relating people • Making places suitable • Transforming • Presencing
      • what is the difference between art and other symbolic throught; architecture, craft, landscape design? These are all ways of modifying our surroundings in a certain way, but does that make them art?
        • built to be in some way outside of everyday experience? Eg Chavin- Andes pilgramage site with lots of ritual deposits, deliberately built to look 'different'
      • how are artistic norms and traditions created? Are there different levels eg top down power, reproduced norms and embodiment, individual taste
        • Bordieu: habitus etc: people's ways of understanding the world, including producing and using certain art forms, is ofc shaped by their agency but, most importantly, it's shaped through their experience of the world.
          • Daily Life and Social Memory at Catalhoyuk
      • embodiment: 'a tangible or visible form of an idea, quality, or feeling.'
        • Ie- art is a way of conveying some ideal in a physical form
          • Art is representational/ expressive – it represents meanings. This is called the 'representational paradigm'
            • This is encoded in definitions (it is symbolic – but a symbolic has to stand for something) and in terms (“image”, “picture”).
        • In the ethnographic present, personal ornaments play the role of conveyors of the social identity of persons
          • The visual display of such information is targeted at encounters with strangers or people infrequently met, because, as pointed out by Kuhn et al. (2001), “without some history of contact or interaction, the meaning of the visual symbols would be opaque to the viewer,” and “there is no need to use material symbols to identify one’s affiliation or identity to family and very close acquaintances.”
            • the emergence of ornaments in the archaeological record probably reflects the crossing of demographic thresholds above which long-distance interaction networks involving alliance, exchange, or mating were necessary. (Zilhao 2003)
              • One must therefore conclude that the explanation for the emergence of ornaments and figurative art resides in the realm of cultural, demographic, and social processes, not in that of paleogenetics or paleoneurology.
                • The German site of Konigsaue, for instance, yielded unique evidence for the mastering of ¨ complex fire technology by Micoquian (late Middle Paleolithic) Neandertals
                  •  that the pitch had been produced through a severalhour-long smoldering process requiring a strict manufacture protocol, i.e., under exclusion of oxygen and at tightly controlled temperatures (between 340 and 400?C) 
                    • The Konigsaue pitch is the first artificial raw material in the history of humankind
                      •  Pleistocene high-tech clearly could not have been developed, transmitted, and maintained in the absence of abstract thinking and language as we know them; it certainly requires the enhanced working memory whose acquisition, according to Coolidge and Wynn (2005), is the hallmark of modern cognition
      • The agency of seeing
        • art is meant to be seen and observed. A good example of this is Kinetic art. From the paleolithic
          • Chauvet cave rock art. Bison drawn with split-action - movement by superimposition / sequence of events
      • The role of us- making other people's 'non art' into art
        • remove it from its original context, place it in a gallery or museum. Create exegesis (find a “meaning” represented in it) Find or create an individual author/ artist. Develop discourse of critical appreciation, connoisseurship
        • Example: Pueblo pottery
        • solution 'i know its not art art but idk I have to call it something?' -often used for all figured representations in the past, even if theyre ugly or were used for some other purpose
        • solution: none of it is art, it's all just material culture! -doesn't explain why not all material culture is as powerfully affective.
    • Textures and Colours- aspects of things that give them symbolic meaning
      • Stone- settlement or building scale. Stone signifies permanence, possible spirituality
        • R Gilchrist (2009): medieval parish churches move from being made of wood to stone: impermanence---> permanance
      • 'colouring the past' -colours as metaphor, allegory, identity, myth.
      • combining vision and touch: peridotic basalt (natural contrast), lapis lazuli- polishing creates texture change adding light to the colour.
      • Color and texture in Mesopotamia
        • Concept of 'Melammu': shine, radiance. It's a property of gods, a few kings and some building/art materials.
          • Gudea of Lagash figurine; made of polished dark black diorite, very shiny/smooth polish. c2130 BC
          • synesthetic- heat and light appear to emanate from the objects.
          • hammurabi law code: diorite. Has melammu
            • meanings associated with diorite: light-royalty, justice, fairness, divinity, sun-god
              • sun god, mellamu, diorite and hammurabi all work together to validate the laws
          • diorite duck weights; part of everyday life
            • diorite: hard, permanent, stable, unchangeable
              • representation of fairness in commerce?
            • haematite weights- also have some material qualities; unexpectedly heavy
        • lapis and carnelian: v different object types: deep meaning vs pretty/decorative. ~decorated, beautiful, highly visible, smooth. foreign origins ~associated status
          • lapis: imported from afghanistan.
            • jewellery, inlay, some seals, small containers
              • in texts Esarhaddon II terrifies the Medes so they bring lapis and horses to Nineveh,
                • value depends on the exotic source; a proxy for the power of empire
          • Carnelian: imported from Indus. Jewellery, occasionally used for seals in later times.
        • Lugal-e: ninurta's exploits
          • A battle between Ninurta and a demon with an army of stones. Ninurta wins and the stones are assigned punishments
            • The punishments are based on the materials' specific quality and functions, and their usefulness for humans.
              • Precious stones (lapis, carnelian, alabaster)~useful stones (emery, basalt)~basic stones (limestone, sandstone)
              • Emery- punished for rebelling by texture change; ground and used to polish carnelian
              • hematite- stood apart from battle, positive description, reflects light, connection with sun god, high value
              • diorite- exalted position (sided with Ninurta). Permanence, associated with royal imagery.
              • Carnelian and lapis are at the top of the hierarchy: decorated with gold, international power, visual delight
        • Materials are alive: multiple senses
          • flow through society in meaningful ways
            • validate the objects they make through their properties.

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