The shamanistic interpretation of hunter-gatherer rock arts has in recent years been heavily criticized. Much of this criticism draws on some of the same fundamental flaws in the shamanistic approach to understanding rock arts. In this article I briefly outline what it is about shamanism and its use in rock-art research that both sides of the debate have got wrong. Taking southern African hunter-gatherer rock art as a starting point, I demonstrate a new way of understanding rock art is indeed possible. I then explore the possibilities of this approach by examining rock art from the post Palaeolithic in Spain, and the Palaeolithic cave art of western Europe.
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