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The nature of palaeolithic art


Compulsory attendance


Prerequisites and restrictions

BA degree (or equivalent) in Archaeology or a relevant discipline.
SAP and exchange students: admission after approval by the Graduate School of Archaeology.


This seminar provides an in-depth introduction into European Upper Palaeolithic Art situated within the ecology of Late Pleistocene Europe. Core of the seminar is the joint study and subsequent discussion of R.D. Guthrie’s (2005) seminal The Nature of Palaeolithic Art (Chicago Univ. Press). Each participant will deliver a PowerPoint-presentation of a specific chapter of this book, situating the chapter in the wider context of rock art studies and submitting points for a joint discussion. The RMA-students participating in this seminar have organised an excursion to the flagship sites of Upper Palaeolithic rock art in the Dordogne area – for a limited number of seminar students it is possible to join this trip, which is a (non compulsory) follow- up for this course, not a part of it.

Learning outcomes

  • Obtaining in-depth knowledge of the record of the European Upper Palaeolithic and of Pleistocene ecology by means of a contextual study of Upper Palaeolithic art;

  • Obtaining in-depth knowledge of the variety of interpretations of Upper Palaeolithic art;

  • Understanding of Neandertal ecology;

  • Improvement of analytical skills and oral presentation by the production of a well-organised PPT-supported presentation.

Mode of delivery

Discussion seminar with extensive literature study and oral presentation.


  • Active participation;

  • PowerPoint presentation/lecture.

Reading list

To be announced during class.

Time schedule

Course schedule details can be found in the RMA time schedule.