On the emergence of art and symbolism: the case of Neandertal 'art' in northern Spain

Chase, Amy (2017) On the emergence of art and symbolism: the case of Neandertal 'art' in northern Spain. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The idea that Neandertals possessed symbolic and artistic capabilities is highly controversial, as until recently, art creation was thought to have been exclusive to Anatomically Modern Humans. An intense academic debate surrounding Neandertal behavioural and cognitive capacities is fuelled by methodological advancements, archaeological reappraisals, and theoretical shifts. Recent re-dating of prehistoric rock art in Spain, to a time when Neandertals could have been the creators, has further fuelled this debate. This thesis aims to address the underlying causes responsible for this debate and investigate the archaeological signifiers of art and symbolism. I then examine the archaeological record of El Castillo, which contains some of the oldest known cave paintings in Europe, with the objective of establishing possible evidence for symbolic and artistic behaviour in Neandertals. The case of El Castillo is an illustrative example of some of the ideas and concepts that are currently involved in the interpretation of Neandertals’ archaeological record. As the dating of the site layer at El Castillo is problematic, and not all materials were analyzed during this study, the results of this research are rather inconclusive, although some evidence of probable symbolic behaviour in Neandertals at El Castillo is identified and discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/12507
Item ID: 12507
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 132-145).
Keywords: Paleolithic art, Neandertals, symbolic behaviour, evolution
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Archaeology
Date: May 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Neanderthals -- Spain; Rock paintings -- Spain

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