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The Nature of Paleolithic Art


The Nature of Paleolithic Art Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.


The monumental "The Nature of Paleolithic Art offers a radical interpretation of Paleolithic art as artifacts of a living society rather than the precursor to Western modes of representation.

About the Author

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.

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




Product Details

Guthrie, R. Dale
University of Chicago Press
Art, prehistoric
Paleolithic period
General Nature
History - Prehistoric & Primitive
Antiquities, prehistoric
Art - General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
20 halftones, 847 line drawings
10.00 x 8.50 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
History and Social Science » Archaeology » World Prehistory
Humanities » Philosophy » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » General

The Nature of Paleolithic Art New Hardcover
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Product details 520 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226311265 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The monumental "The Nature of Paleolithic Art offers a radical interpretation of Paleolithic art as artifacts of a living society rather than the precursor to Western modes of representation.

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