Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 15 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Rock art is landscape art: paintings and engravings placed on cave and rock-shelter walls and ceilings, and open boulders and cliff faces. It also includes earth figures or geoglyphs — rock alignments and intaglios — and cupules or ground cups. Although there are accounts of rock art made as graffiti or for other secular purposes, probably the majority was made for religious reasons. We know this archaeologically based on the restricted nature of the iconography of many corpora of art, sometimes by its location in unusual places (such as the dark zones of caves, where it was both difficult to create and hard to see), and occasionally by associations with other ceremonial objects. This article begins with a summary of global rock art ethnography. It then considers significant methodological approaches for archaeological analyses, before concluding with a review of studies addressing a key rock art research issue: the origin and nature of the earliest known religions, seen globally and regionally.

Keywords: cave art, landscape art, rock art ethnography, early religions

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.