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Interpretation of Neolithic Figurine Art

 

CHAPTER 3 - THE INVISIBLE ASPECT OF FIGURINES

THE NOTION OF FIGURINE ART


Ι. APPROACHES BASED ON ARCHAEOLOGICAL DATA


NEOLITHIC ANTHROPOMORPHIC FIGURINES

INTERPRETATIONAL THEORIES

Α) INTERPRETATIONS RELATED TO FERTILITY AND LIFE

1.   EXPRESSION OF RELIGIOUS CONCEPTS OF FERTILITY/ “Mother Goddess”

(Evans 1921, Childe 1925, Crawford1925, Mylonas1928, Hawkes 1951 et al.)

2.   NEOLITHIC PANTHEON RELATED TO THE CYCLE OF LIFE

(Parrot 1960, James 1960, Gimbutas 1974, Cameron 1981, Bouzek 1998, Cauvin 2003

et al.)

3.   SYMBOLS OF WISHES

(Harrison 1912, Hansen 1933, Broman 1958, Theocharis 1973, et al.)


B) INTERPRETATIONS RELATED TO DEATH

4.   OBJECTS SERVING THE DEAD

(Contenau 1914, Hogarth 1927, Myres 1930, Baumgartel 1950-51, Mellaart 1965, et al.)

5.   PORTRAITS OF THE ANCESTORS

(Karageorghis 1977, et al.)


C) INTERPRETATIONS RELATED TO SOCIAL HUMAN RELATIONS

6.   MULTIFUNCTIONAL OBJECTS

a)Dolls b)Instructive objects c)Bearers of sympathetic magic

(Pumpelly 1908, Kenyon 1956, Ucko 1968, Talalay 1993, et al.)

7.   EARLY MEANS OF WRITTEN COMMUNICATION

(Chourmouziadis 1973 et al.)

8.   SYMBOLS OF IDENTITY AND TOKENS OF DEALS

(Talalay 1983 and 1987, Chapman 2000, Pollard 2004, et al.)

9.   AMULETS NOT DEDUCING POWER FROM THE SEX OF THE DIVINITY REPRESENTED

(Papachatzis 1987 et al.)

10. MATERIAL CODICES FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SOCIAL RELATIONS

(Kokkinidou-Nikolaidou 1997)

11. DEPICTIONS OF THE HUMAN BODY RESULTING TO SUBCONSCIOUS
IDENTIFICATION AND CREATING SOCIAL CONNECTION

(Bailey, 2005)

12. THE THEORY OF REPETITION

(Orphanidis 1990, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2011, 2015)

 

ΙΙ. APPROACHES BASED ON THE REPETITIVE PROCESS


THE THEORY OF REPETITION


The notions included in each figurine are part of behavioural systems and get a meaning in the environment which has created such systems. Henceforth, they must be studied first in relation to other figurine material and then to the social context of their manufacturers and their users.

Being responsible for the Neolithic Project of the Academy of Athens, I had the opportunity and luck to study Neolithic figurine art for a very long time, deepen in issues posed by the figurine material of Thessaly and compare it to data from the rest of the Greek peninsula but from other neighbouring areas as well. This comparative research has started to be published since 1996 and has been based on older publications of figurines and on material from the rich private collections I studied (which exceeded 2,500 figurines).

The whole reassessment of the scientific method of approaching Neolithic figurines analyzed in the present book chapter is the result of my attempt to find common elements and differences among figurines unearthed up to now- at least among the anthropomorphic figurine material- in order to proceed to their interpretation without the need of their accurate dating and find spots or even the broader area they have been found in. My aim has been the isolation of their typological attributes which reveal systems of thought and behaviour. So, based on their general form and on the degree of repetition of their specific characteristics, I propose an alternative methodological / interpretational approach to the subject.

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