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Skiing on the Rocks: the Experiential Art of Fisher-gatherer-hunters in Prehistoric Northern Russia

  • Liliana Janik (a1), Corinne Roughley (a2) and Katarzyna Szczȩsna (a3)


The interpretation of images in relation to their particular setting on rock surfaces has been highlighted in recent studies into the location of depictions in the natural landscape and shamanistic beliefs and practices. The significance of the approach in this article, however, lies in studying the morphology of the rock surface as an integral part of the visual imagery of the rock art, notably how the physical dimensions of the rock surface were used in recreating the physical landscape familiar to the prehistoric artists. We use experiential and cognitive approaches to visual perception to combine an appreciation of artistic endeavour of rock art with an enhanced understanding of the human capacity for creating such images. The results of this approach to rock art contribute to a better understanding of the creative and cognitive aspects of prehistoric fisher-gatherer-hunter art. A detailed example is discussed showing how the physical landscape was re-created in the morphology of the rock surface by using the motion of skiing to illustrate one of the visual narratives at the site of Zalavruga in northern Russia.


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Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • ISSN: 0959-7743
  • EISSN: 1474-0540
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-archaeological-journal
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