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date: 23 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores questions of ontology in rock art analysis. More specifically, it argues that the distinction between ‘informed’ methods and ‘formal’ methods reproduces some problematic dichotomies, such as the distinction between active subjects and inert objects, culture and nature, and a conceptualization of meaning as being external to the art itself. The chapter proposes a move away from such an ontologically hierarchical approach to rock art analysis to a relational approach in which there is no ontological priority between the different elements that make up the rock art assemblage. It emphasizes that placing formal methods at the heart of rock art studies, alongside analogy, shifts the questions we ask of rock art away from simple epistemologically derived enquiries to ontological questions. To illustrate this the chapter examines case studies of parietal art of the European Palaeolithic and Comanche rock art in North America.

Keywords: ‘informed’ and ‘formal’ methods, analogy, non-representational, relational ontology, intra-action, Upper Palaeolithic, Europe, Comanche, North America

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