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H 245 x W 175 mm

220 pages

Illustrated throughout in colour and black & white

Published Nov 2016

Archaeopress Archaeology


Paperback: 9781784914745

Digital: 9781784914752

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Rock Art; Theory; Archaeological Theory; Myths; Interpretation; Epistemology

Myths about Rock Art

By Robert G. Bednarik

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Rather than considering the myths supposedly depicted in the world’s rock art, this book examines the myths archaeologists and others have created about the meanings and significance of rock art.



A Little Epistemology: Introduction; Epistemology of archaeology; Setting the scene; Animals and Pareidolia: Tales of dragons; Identifying zoomorphs; Archaeological Folklores about Dating: The bulls and horses of Iberia; The Palaeolithic obsession; Myths about rock art age; Archaeological excavation; Axiomatic Confusions: Misidentification of non-anthropic rock markings; ‘Explanations’ of cupules; Other mistaken interpretations; The Venus figurines; Sensationalist Myths and Fringe Legends: Sensationalist claims; The writing on the wall; Seeing things: pareidolia; Reaching for stars and gods; The importance of being Palaeolithic; Rock Art Fairy Tales: About shamanism and rock art ; Myths about mythologies ; Neuropathologies and rock art ; Sinister myths about rock art; Generic Issues: Effects of fakes, misconceptions and falsities; Neuroscience and ‘identifications’ in rock art interpretation; The myths are here to stay; Conclusion

About the Author

Robert G. Bednarik is the Convener and Editor-in-Chief of the International Federation of Rock Art Organisations and is affiliated with Hebei Normal University, China. His principal research interests are the origins of the human ability to create constructs of reality, the evolution of humans, and in a variety of fields providing supplementary information in that quest, including the world’s rock art. He has produced more than 1350 academic publications.


'This book is a worthwhile read for anyone who wants a deeper and more nuanced understanding of rock art. Its strength lies in its analytical approach and the questions it asks of rock art research. Probing and exposing inconsistencies and weaknesses in theories, evidence and methodologies is a vital component of a robust scientific process – something that Bednarik passionately advocates throughout the book.'