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26-Oct-2016 18:20

current problems in dating palaeolithic cave art-49

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Either Chauvet's dates are wrong, or the accepted stylistic changes need to be modified. For the moment, archaeologists cannot move completely away from stylistic methods, but they can retool the process. Cave art, also called parietal art or cave painting, is a general term referring to the decoration of the walls of rockshelters and caves throughout the world.The best-known sites are in the Upper Paleolithic (UP)of Europe, where polychrome (multi-colored) paintings made of charcoal and ochre and other natural pigments were used to illustrate extinct animals, humans, and geometric shapes some 20,000-30,000 years ago.Although direct dating is the most reliable, stylistic dating is the most often used, because direct dating destroys some part of the painting and the other methods are only possible in rare occurrences. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 14(1):27-47.Stylistic changes in artifact types have been used as chronological markers in seriation since the late 19th century; stylistic changes in rock art are an outgrowth of that philosophical method. Art and the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition in Europe: Comments on the archaeological arguments for an early Upper Paleolithic antiquity of the Grotte Chauvet art. Sauvet G, Layton R, Lenssen-Erz T, Taçon P, and Wlodarczyk A. Thinking with Animals in Upper Palaeolithic Rock Art.A list of recent publications used for this article can be found on page two.

current problems in dating palaeolithic cave art-7

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We suggest that while we must be ready to adapt traditional stylistic sequences to new absolute dates, the context and chemistry of the radiocarbon samples on the cave wall are critical, and can give rise to dates that may be anomalous.

Introduction--style versus radiocarbon It is now 12 years since Michel Lorblanchet first coined the term `Post-stylistic era' to denote the new period dawning in Palaeolithic art studies, in which direct dating was going to play the definitive role (Lorblanchet 1990: 20). Lorblanchet & Bahn 1991; 1993a) aroused controversy in some circles, but much of this was due to misunderstanding of the position adopted.

In particular, some critics claimed that it was being argued that direct dating had entirely replaced, or would soon replace, the use of style in establishing chronologies. The use of the term `post-stylistic' merely denoted the arrival of a new phase, but did not reject the value of style: `It is self-evident that the impact of absolute dating methods on other areas of archaeological study, while enormous, has changed but by no means obliterated the role of typologies of stone tools or pottery.

The authors warn that the radiocarbon dates may themselves need better validation.

Over the last decade several dozen direct dates on cave art pigments or associated materials have supplemented more traditional style-based attempts to establish a chronological (and developmental) scheme for cave art.

In the “post-stylistic” era an holistic integration of pigment “recipe” analysis, formal stylistic analysis and direct chronometric dating have been applied to a handful of dates.



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