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The Origins of MonstersImage and Cognition in the First Age of Mechanical Reproduction$
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David Wengrow

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159041

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159041.001.0001

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The Hidden Shaman

The Hidden Shaman

Fictive Anatomy in Paleolithic and Neolithic Art

(p.33) 3 The Hidden Shaman
The Origins of Monsters

David Wengrow

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the case for a much earlier beginning to the composite's story, among the hunter-gatherers and villagers of remote prehistory. It has been suggested that “imaginary animals,” “monsters,” and composite figures are found throughout the Upper Paleolithic art tradition that flourished among hunter-gatherers of the last Ice Age, between around 40,000 and 10,000 years ago. That tradition, or better complex of traditions, is most richly documented across a broad swath of southern Europe, on what were then the fringes of a vast steppe bordering the zone of maximum glaciation. The chapter first examines the frequency of composites among the surviving corpus of Paleolithic art, along with the significance of such images in the ritual life of prehistoric societies, before discussing the development of pictorial art in the later Neolithic of the Near East. It also describes animal figures in predynastic Egypt.

Keywords:   hunter-gatherers, imaginary animals, monsters, composite figures, Paleolithic art, composites, ritual, pictorial art, animal figures, predynastic Egypt

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