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Interpretation of Neolithic Figurine Art

 

CHAPTER 2 - THE VISIBLE ASPECT OF FIGURINES


Ι. FROM RAW MATERIAL TO THE FINISHED OBJECT


Depictive and morphological renderings of ideas do not undergo any important changes for thousands of years, especially in Prehistory. In its very early stages, Neolithic figurine art does not appear as an evolution of its Palaeolithic counterpart. The so-called Palaeolithic Aphrodites do not seem to have the expected influence on figurine art but much later, during the Ancient and Middle Neolithic, when thematology and typology will be spectacularly various.

The concept of human body has rendered rich archaeological material from many sites, which varies according to the area. The head (face / hairdo) constitutes an important reference point. The volumes of the body determine the general aspect of a figurine and attract the attention to the details the modeller wished to point out. The presence / underlining or absence of the sex features are definitely semiological data.

Raw materials in Neolithic art are clay, stone, bones, sea shells, gold and wood (?), while the techniques vary according to the material.

Clay is used largely. Various techniques are applied but mainly that of modelling and bonding together one or more pieces of clay, which then are baked in ceramic ovens. Stone figurines are more compact in shape. Other materials are used less often, due to the modelling restrictions they impose.

 

 

ΙΙ. TRACING THE ARTIST


A. DECORATION

Decoration is optional and is achieved by incision or impression, by paint but also plastically, by addition of small pellets of clay on the figurine’s surface. Combinations of all these techniques are often applied. The decoration by inserted elements seems to be quite possible.


B. THE FIGURINE’S SEX AND THE SEX OF THE MODELLER

The sex of the modellers is unknown. Though bibliography usually connotes male modellers, women might have modelling activities as well, since they seem to undertake other duties in the Neolithic society as well, a fact which makes matriarchy very probable.


Introduction| Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3| Contents