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date: 15 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Western Europe has relatively few figurines of Neolithic or Chalcolithic date by comparison with the large numbers known from Southeast Europe and Southwest Asia. Human figurines (mainly of fired clay) are, however, found in Bandkeramik contexts from Central Europe to the North Sea, with others in eastern France. The scarcity of human figurines from areas such as Britain illustrates the diversity of cultural and symbolic practice that privileged human representations in some areas but not others. In the Baltic region, a separate figurine tradition drawing probably on Late Palaeolithic or Mesolithic origins persisted into the Neolithic. It is, however, the Iberian peninsula that stands apart from other regions of western Europe for the abundance and diversity of its human figurines, most of them of Late Neolithic or Chalcolithic date (mid-fourth to late third millennium bc). They include carved schist plaques and ‘eye-idols’ of bone and other materials. The florescence of Iberian figurine production is associated with the emergence of societies on the verge of complexity, characterized by craft specialization and long-distance exchange.

Keywords: Chalcolithic, Bandkeramik, Iberian peninsula, eye-idols, schist plaques

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