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Excavating art

Monday 30th June: 16:00 - 18:00
2 hour session: 10-15 minute papers followed by discussion to conclude

Blaze O'Connor (University College Dublin, UCD School of Archaeology)
David Robinson (University of Central Lancashire, School of Forensic and Investigative Sciences)


In some parts of the world, research on ancient art practices, and rock art in particular, has long been informed by excavation evidence. Meanwhile, in other areas, this represents an entirely new and controversial approach. Indeed, the latter demonstrates the marked transformation in recent rock art research in these areas, where the well-established focus on motifs, compositional analysis and general landscape context has broadened to encompass the investigation of the immediate and wider archaeological context of these sites. Such work aims to integrate the results of rock art research into our broader understanding of prehistoric landscapes, and therefore make increasingly significant contributions to the investigation of peoples' interaction with the material world.

This session seeks to bring together researchers from around the world who are using excavation evidence to investigate the regions and landscapes that came to be embellished with art, peoples' engagement with art forms, and / or the social context of art production. Contributions on a diverse range of material are warmly encouraged and we hope the excavations represented in this session will encompass motifs on in situ stone surfaces (boulders, outcrops, caves, shelters), on megalithic monuments and other structures, and mobiliary or portable art forms recovered from excavated contexts. By enabling knowledge-sharing across different painting and carving traditions, regions, countries and continents, the session will allow new theoretical and methodological approaches, and the very important lessons learned in previous work, to be discussed. A key objective will be to critically evaluate and debate the types of questions that can be fruitfully addressed by excavating art.