Catching up with the (Upper) Paleolithic: “Art”, Memory, and Social Lives

Lecture | September 12 | 12-1 p.m. | 101 2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)

 Meg Conkey, Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology

 Archaeological Research Facility

In this informal talk, I will report on some recent trends and research in the study of the Upper Paleolithic, drawing, in part, from two summer conferences and our on-going research in the foothills of the French Pyrénées, at the site of Peyre Blanque. Both conferences addressed the current state of study of Paleolithic “art” that increasingly takes into consideration a wider and social context for its production and on-going-ness over many millenia, as well as its diversity. In one, we considered “what can we learn from Paleolithic art?” and in the other we explored how the study of Paleolithic art is much more than a study of an “art”….From Peyre Blanque, among other things, we are finding that pigments/coloring materials and minerals were much more abundant and used in many different ways, without having, on hand, anything much we could call “art”. Even when pigments are applied to walls of objects in the Upper Paleolithic—practices that are called “art”—they are not limited to that usage, but an integral part of everyday, perhaps notably so at sites (like Peyre Blanque) where an “investment” in place is manifest.