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Visual Cultures in the Upper Palaeolithic

  • April Nowell (a1)


Using examples drawn from the European Upper Palaeolithic, this article advocates a visual cultures approach to studying the art of this period. Visual culture is defined as the biological, cognitive and social underpinnings of how we see, while the term art refers to what we see. A visual cultures approach to these images allows the archaeologist to explore how they were experienced, decoded and innovated upon within historically situated, overlapping and entangled communities of practice and further affords archaeologists the tools and the vocabulary they need to explore apprenticeship, active teaching, embodied cognition, situated learning, scaffolding, enskillment, the existence of chaînes opératoires and the impact of these materials on the human brain. European Upper Palaeolithic finger flutings are presented as a case study of the visual cultures approach.


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