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date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the rich archaeological record of Upper Palaeolithic symbolic material culture from sites in Central and Eastern Europe. In particular, it focuses on art and ornaments excavated from sites in Czech Republic, Austria, Ukraine, and Russia. Following a review of some influential and provocative interpretations of the most frequently discussed figurative art, in particular the so-called ‘Venus’ figurines, it proposes new contextual frameworks that facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of the diverse records of symbolic material culture, which include large quantities of zoomorphic, non-figurative art, and ornaments which have been the focus of relatively less research to date. Furthermore, it argues for the need for more nuanced approaches to the study of Palaeolithic art, particularly those which recognize that the socially embedded production of art could offer as much insight into these assemblages as the traditional approaches which focus on the iconography or appearance of the most aesthetically striking figurines.

Keywords: Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Palaeolithic, figurines, ornaments, art

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