40th out of 40 books — 7 voters
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Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit: The Origin of Creativity and Belief
The magnificent prehistoric art discovered in caves throughout France and Spain raises many questions about early human culture. What do these superbly rendered paintings of horses, bison, and enigmatic human figures and symbols mean? How can we explain the sudden flourishing of artistic creativity at such a high level? And in what ways does this artwork reflect the underl ...more
Hardcover, 322 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Prometheus Books
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(showing 1-30 of 83)
This is fascinating and wide-ranging discussion of cave art, and a great introduction to the subject. David Whitely's own work as an archaeologist offers an authoritative viewpoint to the discussion, although the tone of the book is certainly accessibly, and frequently conversational, though no less serious for it. He offers a view of the exploration of cave art, introducing many of the players of modern archaeology in this area, to demonstrate the story of human innovation, discovery and scanda ...more
Highly provocative, clearly written book. The first half deals with the discovery, dating and contents of the Paleolithic Caves and other art work in Europe, the second half deals with the origin of religion, nature of Shamanism, and the mental health of Shamans.
This is a generally good book that makes connections between shamanism and paleolithic art, though the title implies somewhat more of this than is discussed in the book. It's not till the final chapters that the origin of creativity and belief is really discussed, and then huge assumptions are made based on personal bias (which he does admit) and modern, anecdotal anthropological evidence. I really did like the book overall, but I have some major gripes with it. First, the looooooong section on ...more
There's too much blah, blah, blah, much of it repetitive and, though written for laymen, still structured and written too much like academic work. I found that I had to skip long parenthesis that were nothing more than the author's self-justifications and/or protracted descriptions of irrelevant details (why do I care that his friend the archeologist looks like a poet? Or that he sat in an Italian cafe to discuss the theories he's already expounded on for several chapters?)
The chapter about sham ...more
The chapter about sham ...more
Really interesting and pretty easy to understand exploration of the cave art in Chauvet, France. It uses some scientific jargon, but much less than most books on the subject, and Whitley puts a lot of personal touches and narrative into the book that make it more engaging than a lot of other pieces I've read. There's a long, only mildly relevant tangent in the middle of the book about controversial dating techniques. You can skim it and not miss any of the important parts of Whitley's argument.