Volume 3of the IFRAO-Brepols series:

courting sophistication

Edited by Robert G. Bednarik


his volume introduces a selection of the most innovative papers presented at two major conferences, the 1995 International Rock Art Congress in Turin, Italy, and the Third Congress of the Australian Rock Art Research Association in 2000, held in Alice Springs, Australia. Both events were attended by several hundred of the world’s rock art researchers. The book offers a fairly representative profile of where the discipline stands at the beginning of the new millennium, and it attempts to predict the direction that scientific rock art research is likely to take in the immediate future. This collection of outstanding essays comprises eighteen contributions from scholars around the world, representing all continents except Africa. Most address epistemological, metaphysical and major theoretical aspects of the discipline. Some present innovative and new ways of thinking about the data presented by empirical research of recent years, while a few authors describe specific research projects exemplifying new directions emerging in their discipline.Having been neglected for much of the 20th century, the field of rock art research has experienced an unprecedented rapid development in the late part of that century. This has led to a sophistication of theoretical approaches and a notable broadening of the research base, well illustrated by this book. Besides archaeologists, the contributing authors include semioticians and epistemologists. The volume is of value to anyone interested in the development of rock art studies, from the ingenious approaches of the past to today’s resourcefulness in working with such an intractable subject. Rock art, and palaeoart generally, provides the study material of a discipline whose ultimate agenda it is to determine the origins of human constructs of reality. This volume shows how this ferociously complex subject can be rendered somewhat more accessible without resorting to the simplistic interpretations characterising the discipline’s past.