Rock Art

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

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Postby Manystones » Tue Apr 29, 2008 3:19 pm

Ishtar,

I thought you said you weren't going to step into the argument?

Nonetheless, it was never Hodgson who claimed that Palaeolithic art was mostly the result of some sort of 'shamanic' activity drug induced or not. LW is extremely selective in his use of "evidence". Mind in the Cave explains how he creates his 'cable' argument - in other words a theory from a series of loosely related and selective 'facts' - which when examined in detail by someone like Derek Hodgson do not survive. e.g. the "three" stages.

Unlike LW, Hodgson does not rely on second hand "drug-induced" experiences to draw the majority of his evidence from but rather his area of expertise, i.e. neuro-science and palaeoart.
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Postby rich » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:25 pm

Any possibility they lived in tents and cycled thru the area in groups? In otherwords, let's say they had ten or fifteen groups of any number from 30 to 90 individuals (could even have been a lot more). Group 1 would come there say from month 1 to month 2, group 2 from month 2 to month 3, groups 3 and 4 from month 3 to 4, etc, etc,etc. Then as each left to go to a different location they packed up their tents and belongings and the next group moved in.
It could have been a spot they all originally started from as a smaller family and decided they were all to big to feed in the area at one time so each left for a different hunting area. In other words their common original home where they "payed" their respects to at differing times to avoid depleting their food supplies.
Any possibility of that kind of scenario?
i'm not lookin' for who or what made the earth - just who got me dizzy by makin it spin
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Postby Ishtar » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:49 pm

You're right, Manystones. I said I wouldn't step into the argument. But when you highlighted the main points of Hodgson, I had to say something because, as I showed, most of his points don't stand up. The only place he may have had a point is in the claim that LW says that all palaeoart is shamanic. You still haven't shown me where LW says that. On all his other points, I have shown that his thesis is flawed.

Also, LW did not use second hand drug induced experiences, anymore than Hodgson did. In fact, it's Hodgson that relies on others' research on this.

Can I also point out we are differing over a book I have read versus a paper I have now read. You have only read the paper.

But in addition to that, I'd like to put Hodgson's views into context of why I began this discussion. I began it because Bednarik categorically dismissed that any palaeoart could have its roots in shamanic practice. He didn't say 'the jury's out on that', or 'in my view, it isn't'. He was very definite that no phosphene art could be shamanic. This makes him as bad as LW, if what you say about LW is true (which you've yet to show) in that they are both polarising the whole issue, which isn't necessary ...and it's certainly not my view.

I wanted to understand on what basis Bednarik felt that he could dismiss the whole shamanic hypothesis school of thought (which is significant in size) so lightly. If it's on the basis of what's in Hodgson's paper, I have to say he is way out of line. To solely base these conclusions on those who took hallucinogenic drugs is to marginalise the most extreme, and less common, route to the altered state and then claim that this represents the whole shamanic experience. Let me explain why:

Scientists have found that if we are exposed to a rhythm of between 4-7 beats a second, our brain will enter what is known as a theta state. This theta state is what shamans call the non ordinary reality of the altered state, which consists of the three stages.

Michael Harner, of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, is a former anthropologist who has done a lot of work on this. He found that the route via drugs was the least common one, and that the most common method usually involved setting up some kind of resonance, like the beat of a drum. Or in the British Isles, shamans used to beat something that looks a bit like a frying pan, and they called it tanging. And I'm sure you've seen and heard a Tibetan singing bowl.

Mircae Eliade, the late Professor of Religion at Harvard, also documented the reports of anthropologists on shamans worldwide in his book, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. His work confirms that the most popular method was and still is the beat of the drum.

Another way, used particularly by those in the north like the Inuits and Sami Laplanders, was extended periods of darkness. After 24 hours in total darkness, there is a reaction with melatonin that causes the altered state. Mircae Eliade talks about apprentice shamans who would spend nine months in the darkness of a cave before their initiations. This way of entering the altered state is a much more gradual process than any of the others and thus gives plenty of time in the phosphene state, i.e. stage one.

If you'd like to know more about the darkness method, I can recommend the book Darkness Visible by Ross Heaven and Simon Buxton.

The Scandinavians in general, going back to the female Volva shamans, also used a ullulating voice which is called yoiking.

So anyway, as I said earlier, there's no point in us stepping into an academic tournament where such polarised positions have been chosen by the combatants (although I have yet to see that this is the case with LW).

My own view is that plenty of paleoart has a shamanic ring to it, shall we say. And so I go back to my original offer to explore palaeoart that I think may be shamanic and others can give views on it?
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Postby kbs2244 » Fri May 02, 2008 10:25 pm

Rich,
You may have a point in the idea of different seasons for different groups.
There are some rock painting in Minnesota that are very popular for canoe tourists to paddle by and wonder how they painted the on an overhang 8 feet above the water.
Nobody seems to think that maybe they waited until the water was frozen so they could build a small scaffold to reach the place to paint.
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Postby john » Fri May 02, 2008 10:41 pm

All -

Forget the temple shit.

That redounds to taxes and tithes.

I'll bring up the consideration of

"Sacred Ground"

Revered by generations,

For good reason,

Without benefit of

Temples and taxes.



hoka hey


john
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Postby Bruce » Sun May 04, 2008 10:36 am

http://www.courant.com/travel/hc-petrog ... ory?page=1

Each cluster is dominated by simple images of faces, typically an outline of a head, two eyes, a mouth. Some have horns. What do they mean?

Edward J. Lenik of New Jersey, an archaeologist who specializes in cultural resource investigations for clients, has been researching petroglyphs since 1976 and is the author of "Picture Rocks: American Indian Rock Art in the Northeast Woodlands (University Press of New England; 2002). He says a petroglyph is a window into a long-ago culture.

"The charm is, it reflects the Indians' thought process, their culture in terms of their stories and myths and belief systems, which you don't really get from artifacts," Lenik said. "Here you look at the artwork and try to imagine what it means. Is the Indian trying to make contact with the spirit world? Or is it something else? That is the fascination."

A Spiritual Place?

One hypothesis holds that the Bellows Falls faces indicate the site was a meeting place of many people. That does not seem far-fetched because the falls would have been a great place to fish for migrating species such as salmon and shad.


How shamanic can it get?
Ishtar, have you experienced the Rocky Mountain, Rawah Wilderness, shamanic fishing experience?
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Shamanic my arse

Postby Manystones » Sun May 04, 2008 1:48 pm

Ishtar wrote:You're right, Manystones. I said I wouldn't step into the argument. But when you highlighted the main points of Hodgson, I had to say something because, as I showed, most of his points don't stand up.


And similarly I too refrained from being drawn further on this matter Ishtar, but upon reflection I feel compelled to comment not least because I dragged Hodgson’s name into this - in the hope of bringing the discussion back to reality - and therefore ought to clarify the outstanding issues.

Claiming that his points don’t stand up and demonstrating that his points don’t stand up are far apart. Despite re-reading your posts several times, I have been unable to ascertain where you have decisively proven anything to this effect.

Ishtar wrote:The only place he may have had a point is in the claim that LW says that all palaeoart is shamanic. You still haven't shown me where LW says that.


I don’t know whether it is because I have read these two sentences over and over again that they don’t quite make sense. But I’ll try to shed some light on what has and has not been claimed at least.

Here’s the introduction to the Hodgson article to clarify beyond doubt:

There has been much controversy recently regarding Lewis-Williams’s assertion that altered states of consciousness and shamanism can explain Palaeolithic art. Evidence now seems to be accumulating that this account is unable to provide a sustainable explanation for Upper Palaeolithic depictions. This proposition will be explored and substantiated by examining further weaknesses contained therein. Additionally, in response to claims by those defending altered states that no alternative explanation for palaeoart has been proposed as a viable alternative, it will be shown that such a description does exist but has not been given the attention it deserves because of a misplaced concern for shamanism.


Ishtar wrote:On all his other points, I have shown that his thesis is flawed.


Have you indeed? You may have to set it out in a way that we can all follow then, because I for one have yet to see any convincing arguments put forward in this regard.

Ishtar wrote:Also, LW did not use second hand drug induced experiences, anymore than Hodgson did. In fact, it's Hodgson that relies on others' research on this.


Errrh…. The basis of Lewis-William hypothesis is that altered states of consciousness can explain Palaeoart, in the course of this he frequently uses second hand information regarding altered states of consciousness to “support” his hypothesis. It is therefore correct that Hodgson should falsify certain aspects that pertain to drug-induced states with information also gained from individuals who have undergone such experiences.

In an early post Ishtar you made a comment which appeared to question the wisdom of Hodgson in his choice of supporting reference.

Ishtar wrote:There is one amusing bit in Hodgson's work, though, where he mentions one chap, Mr Shanon, who evidence is "compelling". This Mr Shanon, in the interests of science, took a hallucinogenic drug and then completely bypassed stages 1 and 2 and was whizzed straight to stage 3 and fullblown hallucinations. Apart from wondering, "Wow..what was he on," it also gave me a bit of a chuckle. This is why shamanism will never fit into commonly accepted lab techniques to arrive at the truth, because it isn't a case of one size fits all. There are many instances, even though they are more rare, of people bypassing stages 1 and 2 to go straight to 3. Mr Shanon, it turns out was one of them.


Because I felt that Dr Shanon had been rather smeared by this remark I posted his credentials so that the readers of this forum could reach their own unbiased conclusion as to whether Dr. Shanon’s is sufficiently qualified to comment on the subject of drug-induced experience.

Manystones wrote:Shanon (2003), a cognitive psychologist, has lived with, minutely studied, and partaken in the shamanistic rituals of South American Indians involving the personal experience of psychotropic drugs, such as Ayahuasca, some 140 times.


And let us not forget the original point that Hodgson was making was just lending FURTHER support to the published conclusions of both Helvensten and Bahn.

Manystones wrote:Helvenston & Bahn (2003; 2004) have shown how the way hallucinations are experienced in drug-induced states does not generally involve the three stages to which Lewis-Williams refers. This is further borne out by the first-hand experience of Shanon (2002; 2003, 301, 304, 375). Despite his exhaustive dissection of the phenomenology pertaining under the influence of psychotropic drugs, phosphenes are either not mentioned or are played down (Shanon 2003, 276, 294), while the three stages to which Lewis-Williams refers are viewed as controversial. In fact, quite often the opposite seems to have been the case, in that the hallucinations were experienced as immediate and full-blown. In the case of Kluver’s (1926) study, he states that the subjects undergoing hallucinations said little about simple geometric designs or more complex images as they tended rather to concentrate on the iconic representations.


Back to your post Ishtar:

Ishtar wrote:Can I also point out we are differing over a book I have read versus a paper I have now read. You have only read the paper.


Perhaps then Ishtar you’d like to surmise the additional evidence over and above that in “Mind in the Cave” (which I have read several times) which “proves” what Lewis-Williams claims and refutes those that his peers have made succinctly.

Ishtar wrote:But in addition to that, I'd like to put Hodgson's views into context of why I began this discussion. I began it because Bednarik categorically dismissed that any palaeoart could have its roots in shamanic practice. He didn't say 'the jury's out on that', or 'in my view, it isn't'. He was very definite that no phosphene art could be shamanic. This makes him as bad as LW, if what you say about LW is true (which you've yet to show) in that they are both polarising the whole issue, which isn't necessary ...and it's certainly not my view.


No, it began because you wrongly interpreted what Bednarik states despite being unusually adept at making himself explicit. What he says is that shamanism or ASC cannot be held to be the “reason” behind the creation of phosphene art or indeed palaeoart.

Ishtar wrote:I wanted to understand on what basis Bednarik felt that he could dismiss the whole shamanic hypothesis school of thought (which is significant in size) so lightly.


It’s easy Ishtar, on the basis that we are alien researchers and could never know what was in the mind of the creater. It’s called the anthropic principle.

Ishtar wrote:If it's on the basis of what's in Hodgson's paper, I have to say he is way out of line. To solely base these conclusions on those who took hallucinogenic drugs is to marginalise the most extreme, and less common, route to the altered state and then claim that this represents the whole shamanic experience. Let me explain why:


Are we reading the same Hodgson paper? The references to hallucinogenic drugs are made by Hodgson in the process of refuting Lewis-Williams’ published assumptions. Falsifying Lewis-Williams evidence is only half of the game, the competing hypothesis Neuro-visual theory relies on the scientific understanding of the neuro-visual system. Both the Hodgson and Bednarik papers are quite clear in what they claim and therefore raising this issue appears to be nothing more than an attempt to create a platform to launch your own comments with regard to the proposed superiority of non-drug-induced experiences.

Ishtar wrote:Scientists have found that if we are exposed to a rhythm of between 4-7 beats a second, our brain will enter what is known as a theta state. This theta state is what shamans call the non ordinary reality of the altered state, which consists of the three stages.


Whilst this may be relevant to the claim that non-drug-induced experiences are a more common route to a shamanic experience it is not relevant to claiming that Hodgson has been “proven incorrect”.

Ishtar wrote:Michael Harner, of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, is a former anthropologist who has done a lot of work on this. He found that the route via drugs was the least common one, and that the most common method usually involved setting up some kind of resonance, like the beat of a drum. Or in the British Isles, shamans used to beat something that looks a bit like a frying pan, and they called it tanging. And I'm sure you've seen and heard a Tibetan singing bowl.

<Snip> yawn <Snip>

The Scandinavians in general, going back to the female Volva shamans, also used a ullulating voice which is called yoiking.


Again, none of this relevant to demonstrating that rock art can in any way be shown to be influenced or driven by shamanic practices.

Ishtar wrote:So anyway, as I said earlier, there's no point in us stepping into an academic tournament where such polarised positions have been chosen by the combatants (although I have yet to see that this is the case with LW).

My own view is that plenty of paleoart has a shamanic ring to it, shall we say. And so I go back to my original offer to explore palaeoart that I think may be shamanic and others can give views on it?


But by making claim to having refuted Hodgson’s claims you have entered the debate and your position appears to be no more one-sided that anyone else’s.

This is your view, and like everyone you are entitled to wonder about the origins of palaeoart, but I believe the Moderators movement of this thread into the “Everything Else” section is proof enough that the damage has been done.

A thread entitled “Rock Art” should by its’ very nature be scientific; unfortunately this thread has been turned into another forum for pet theories. You should have opened your own thread with an appropriate title or appended your comments to one of the pre-existing "shamanic" threads.

To return to your point about being so light in dismissing the:

“whole shamanic school of thought (which is significant in size)”


Scientific method does not require support from the masses, argument by authority does.

Regards
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Postby woodrabbit » Mon May 05, 2008 10:46 pm

Manystones, seems like you succeeded in kicking this thread to the ground.

I am surprised and disappointed that the forum elders decided to move this lively 21 page thread on Rock Art with over 11,000 views to the "Everything Else" category.

Seems a bit premature and biased to quarantine this debate, with so many facts still to come in.

"Einstein was approached by one of his students who pointed out, "The questions on this year's exam are the same as last year’s!" "True," Einstein said, "but this year, the answers are different."
Its more complicated than it seems.
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Postby Digit » Tue May 06, 2008 2:13 am

Quarantined?
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Postby Ishtar » Tue May 06, 2008 6:03 am

Manystones

When you PM-ed me the other day about my approach being 'bad for the discipline', I was too polite to say: "Bad for what discipline? The discipline of seeing faces in stones?"

But I'm not feeling so polite now after reading your arrogant remark about your post getting us ‘back to reality'.

Do you think if you ape the pomposity of the Club, they’ll accept you and your stones? You need to think again.

I write in plain language that most people can understand. So if you can’t understand what I say, you might try a local literacy class.

Two of your man’s Hodgson’s major complaints about this book (that you haven't read) was that the author Lewis Williams a) did not take into account cultural differences in artistic interpretation of Neolithic art and b) that he said all Neolithic art was influenced by the altered state.

I asked you where he said this. You’ve been unable to reply – and you’ve been unable to reply for one simple reason. He never said it.
In fact he said the opposite.

Here is what he said on page 122 of Inside the Neolithic Mind. It answers both your man’s points a) and b), and also explains the cosmological nature of their homes (i.e the microcosm reflecting the macrocosm).


As we have repeatedly noted, visions cannot be separated from social contexts and consequences. The multifaceted nature of a neurologically generated ‘spiritual’ complex opens up numerous forms of social and personal manipulation: there are both social and consciousness contracts. There are maintained givens but also variations.

When certain people at Catalhoyuk moved down into the constructed underworld and then (both literally and spiritually) through the walls, the movements of their journey and the existing imagery primed their minds for what they would see if they themselves experienced altered consciousness. Deliberately designed architectural space, a conceptually constructed underworld, and a selected vocabulary of visual motifs were implicated in the reproduction (but also potential subversion) of the social order.

One notion of consciousness and social contracts thus brings a range of diverse features at Catalhoyuk and other Near Eastern sites into a co-ordinated and, within its own terms, rational framework. There is a coherence in Neolithic diversity. The tiered cosmology, is however, an overarching belief system; it should not be taken to imply that every image or figurine is directly related to altered states of consciousness. On the contrary, the richly resonant motifs probably did not all have precisely the same focus of meaning. What the foci and connotations may have been is a topic for further research. That research will have to consider wider issues, including the mythology that gave coherence to Neolithic life.



I would also like to ask why this thread has been moved from the main forum? Rock art is a part of archaeology, despite the controversies it causes.
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Postby Ishtar » Wed May 07, 2008 7:09 am

This is a balanced and largely favourable review of the Inside the Neolithic Mind on American Scientist Online by Brian Hayden, professor of archaeology at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia

http://www.americanscientist.org/templa ... _6b44KNboe

This is a very enjoyable book on Neolithic religion. The authors pepper the pages with fascinating vignettes on archaeological discovery and the history of human thought and consciousness (for example, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's ideas about human nature and the innate religious notions of people are touched on). These asides render many parts of the book eminently readable. However, I must emphasize at the outset that the authors sometimes endorse cognitive interpretations that are quite different from the more economic and practical interpretations that I generally favour. Nevertheless, I fully concur with their basic premise that the physical structure of the human mind creates specific kinds of images (or ways of viewing the world) under altered states of consciousness and that it is individual cultures that determine what aspects (if any) of the altered states and their associated images to recognize.

Lewis-Williams has been developing and refining this approach over the past two decades. However, Lewis-Williams and Pearce break some new ground in this volume, with mixed success. I find it completely plausible, for example, that the non figurative patterns (dots, zigzags, vortices and others) that occur as motifs in art and on monuments are images that people in a sensory-deprived (or otherwise altered) state of mind see when their eyes are closed—effects of the central nervous system. It is also plausible that Neolithic artists were influenced by feeling they were being drawn into a vortex when changing from one state of consciousness to another, as has been frequently reported by people who have had near-death experiences. But Lewis-Williams and Pearce are less convincing when they try to relate the conception of the world as a tiered cosmos (featuring an upper world, a middle earth and a lower world) to the neural structure of the brain. Although I agree entirely that the tiered-cosmos concept is extremely widespread, especially in less complex societies, and was almost assuredly part of the Neolithic worldview, the reasons for the concept being so common are not entirely clear, especially from a neurological perspective.

I also agree that altered states of consciousness (and manipulations of them by political elites) were central characteristics of Neolithic religion. The arguments that certain Neolithic tombs constituted models of the cosmos, with their passageways and vaulted chambers serving as symbolic vortices or portals between the common world, the underworld and the celestial world, all seem reasonable and are well supported by their architecture, art and burial remains. Like a number of other researchers, I endorse the notion that ancient people associated their elite dead with the Sun (after appropriate rituals and expensive sacrifices), which is well exemplified ethnographically today by groups such as the Torajans of Sulawesi. The role that Lewis-Williams and Pearce postulate for the Earth, the Sun and the Moon and their relation to the dead in Neolithic cosmology seems entirely reasonable. These are some of the new and very useful contributions of Inside the Neolithic Mind.
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Postby Ishtar » Wed May 07, 2008 7:28 am

This is the world’s oldest painting found last October at the Neolithic settlement of Djade al-Mughara on the Euphrates, northeast of the city of Aleppo:

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/ ... me=topNews


With its zig zag patterns, which some attribute to an altered state, it compares quite well to that of Catal Hoyuk (below):

Image



French archaeologists have discovered an 11,000-year-old wall painting underground in northern Syria which they believe is the oldest in the world.

The 2 square-meter painting, in red, black and white, was found at the Neolithic settlement of Djade al-Mughara on the Euphrates, northeast of the city of Aleppo, team leader Eric Coqueugniot told Reuters.

"It looks like a modernist painting. Some of those who saw it have likened it to work by (Paul) Klee. Through carbon dating we established it is from around 9,000 B.C.," Coqueugniot said.

"We found another painting next to it, but that won't be excavated until next year. It is slow work," said Coqueugniot, who works at France's National Centre for Scientific Research.

Rectangles dominate the ancient painting, which formed part of an adobe circular wall of a large house with a wooden roof. The site has been excavated since the early 1990s.
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Postby Digit » Wed May 07, 2008 11:33 am

Or maybe they just liked the pattern?
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Postby Manystones » Wed May 07, 2008 2:07 pm

Ishtar wrote:Manystones

When you PM-ed me the other day about my approach being 'bad for the discipline', I was too polite to say: "Bad for what discipline? The discipline of seeing faces in stones?"


This must be the message to which you refer, and I’ll let the reader come to their own conclusions about what I said and whether or not I have been misquoted.

To: Ishtar
Posted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:18 pm
Subject: re. Shamanism
Hi Ishtar,

If you email me (link on my profile) with your email address I can send you some stuff by Hodgson which illustrates why the Shaminism theory is weak.

Bednarik and others have illustrated this in some detail, for example their extrapolating from the San people or other cultures without shared commonalities or with particular idiosyncracies, and various other assumptions most of which have been falsified successfully.

Don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to a bit of "Shamanism" but as someone put it (in better words than I could ever hope to), the values they ascribe to Shamans are then applied to everyone to the effect that every person is a Shaman thereby negating any meaning. Worst still is the attempt to apply this theory almost blanket like across palaeolithic art

Incidentally, IMHO many of the explanations they ascribe to be in reference to palaeoart and altered experiences demonstrate their own lack of experience in this field and I say this from my personal experience xxxxxCensoredxxxx.

I believe the point about phosphenes is that Bednarik has demonstrated that mark making has evolved determined by the characteristics of the neuro-visual recognition system, i.e. rub your hands in your eyes - therefore one cannot say that "entoptic phenomena" are derived from Shaminism.

Kind regards
Richard.


Ishtar wrote:But I'm not feeling so polite now after reading your arrogant remark about your post getting us ‘back to reality'.

Do you think if you ape the pomposity of the Club, they’ll accept you and your stones? You need to think again.

I write in plain language that most people can understand. So if you can’t understand what I say, you might try a local literacy class.


If you don’t feel you need to explain exactly what you meant then fine - communication is the response you get.

Ishtar wrote:Two of your man’s Hodgson’s major complaints about this book (that you haven't read) was that the author Lewis Williams a) did not take into account cultural differences in artistic interpretation of Neolithic art and b) that he said all Neolithic art was influenced by the altered state.


Palaeolithic<>Neolithic

Ishtar wrote:I asked you where he said this. You’ve been unable to reply – and you’ve been unable to reply for one simple reason. He never said it.
In fact he said the opposite.


Since Hodgson has claimed neither a) nor b) I have no reason to demonstrate what you have misunderstood.

Ishtar wrote:Here is what he said on page 122 of Inside the Neolithic Mind. It answers both your man’s points a) and b), and also explains the cosmological nature of their homes (i.e the microcosm reflecting the macrocosm).


As we have repeatedly noted, visions cannot be separated from social contexts and consequences. The multifaceted nature of a neurologically generated ‘spiritual’ complex opens up numerous forms of social and personal manipulation: there are both social and consciousness contracts. There are maintained givens but also variations.

When certain people at Catalhoyuk moved down into the constructed underworld and then (both literally and spiritually) through the walls, the movements of their journey and the existing imagery primed their minds for what they would see if they themselves experienced altered consciousness. Deliberately designed architectural space, a conceptually constructed underworld, and a selected vocabulary of visual motifs were implicated in the reproduction (but also potential subversion) of the social order.

One notion of consciousness and social contracts thus brings a range of diverse features at Catalhoyuk and other Near Eastern sites into a co-ordinated and, within its own terms, rational framework. There is a coherence in Neolithic diversity. The tiered cosmology, is however, an overarching belief system; it should not be taken to imply that every image or figurine is directly related to altered states of consciousness. On the contrary, the richly resonant motifs probably did not all have precisely the same focus of meaning. What the foci and connotations may have been is a topic for further research. That research will have to consider wider issues, including the mythology that gave coherence to Neolithic life.



And this is how the abstract reads:

There has been much controversy recently regarding Lewis-Williams's assertion that altered states of consciousness and shamanism can explain Palaeolithic art. Evidence now seems to be accumulating that this account is unable to provide a sustainable explanation for Upper Palaeolithic depictions. This proposition will be explored and substantiated by examining further weaknesses contained therein. Additionally, in response to claims by those defending altered states that no alternative explanation for palaeoart has been proposed as a viable alternative, it will be shown that such a description does exist but has not been given the attention it deserves because of a misplaced concern for shamanism.



Ishtar wrote:I would also like to ask why this thread has been moved from the main forum? Rock art is a part of archaeology, despite the controversies it causes.


Why bother?

Ishtar wrote:A range of scenes … are depicted in palaeoart


Where?

Ishtar wrote:Again, I believe Hodgson is reading far more into what Lewis-Williams is saying that I gleaned, anyway.


You believe or read the article?

I dug out my copy of “Mind In The Cave” by Lewis-Williams and quote from the sleeve which has me in a fit of giggles:

The Mind in the Cave puts forward the most convincing explanation yet proposed for the origins of image-making and art. The Neanderthals, our nearest ancient relatives, lived alongside our Cro-Magnon ancestors for over10,000 years, borrowing stone tool technology but never developing art – how could this be? The answer, David Lewis-Williams shows, lies in the evolution of the human mind. Cro-Magnons, unlike the Neanderthals, possessed a higher-order consciousness and a more advanced neurological make-up which enabled them to experience shamanistic trances and vivid mental imagery.


From p. 207:

Both Upper Palaeolithic people and San rock painters were more concerned with Stage 3 hallucinations than with Stage 1 entoptic phenomena. What is significant is that there are Upper Palaeolithic images referable to all three stages of the model, and this strengthens the argument for a connection with the mental imagery of altered states.


And p. 208:

They therefore fit the overall pattern suggested by the hypothesis that Upper Palaeolithic parietal art was shamanistic.
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Postby Ishtar » Thu May 08, 2008 1:18 am

Richard -

The difficulty I’m having here is that I cannot really take seriously the paper of Hodgson who has never in his life experienced a shamanic journey telling me (who has, and who knows many others who have) what the shaman experiences on those journeys, and how it is actually different from what I and most other shamanic practitioners say that we experience.

It would be like, say, you’d just returned from Egypt to find a load of pendants, who’d never in their lives left the UK, waving papers at you that ‘prove’ that the pyramids don’t exist.

Not only that, but in basing his conclusions on one man’s experiences with hallucinogenics, Hodgson isolated a very particular method of achieving the shamanic altered state, which is in no way representative. That is why I went to trouble to show you all the different ways of reaching that state …so you could see how Hodgson had, by no means, got the full picture.

Art can only ever be a matter of interpretation. Science, except in the dating of the rock that it’s on, has no place there anyway. Neurological functions are interesting, but they tell us the ‘what’ – they don’t tell us the ‘why’.

Do Hodgson and Bednarik seriously think that Palaeo man sat there rubbing his eyes and then thought, ‘I know. Those pretty dots would make a good picture.” ?

He may have done, of course. But the whole matter about what drove the art and architecture of Palaeo and Neo man is open to interpretation.

Why I came in on this, and started this discussion, was because Bednarik was casually dismissing all the shamanic interpretations out of hand, showing a closed mind to any other possibilities.

So for the moment, I will suspend my disbelief to take your view that Lewis Williams thinks all Palaeo art is shamanic. Then, on the other side, we have Bednarik whose position is equally polarised … he thinks all Palaeo art is definitely not shamanic.

Neither of them can possibly be sure, and so in the middle there, we have room for debate, discussion and a polite exchange of views on the matter. That’s what I was hoping for anyway…I don’t know how it descended into anything else, but I apologise if I had any part in that.

BTW - Copywriters who write book covers are like tabloid headline writers. They write whatever they think loosely fits the contents with a view to grabbing good reviews and selling the book. They usually choose the title too, and the author rarely gets a look in on all of that.
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