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Amerindian Cosmologies and European Prehistoric Cave Art: Reasons for and Usefulness of a Comparison
Università degli Studi di Torino, Dipartimento Culture, Politica e Società, Lungo Dora Siena, 100, Torino 10153, Italy
Received: 28 October 2013; in revised form: 2 December 2013 / Accepted: 17 December 2013 / Published: 27 December 2013
Abstract: Several anthropological studies conducted in recent years among different Native American cultures have revealed a series of common features in ontological premises and cosmological frameworks. These features seem to be shared by most of the Native peoples in both North and South America. They include: a system of relationships between humans and non-human beings based on an ontology “of persons” as contrasted to the ontology “of things” typical of the Western attitude towards Nature; a structure of the cosmos made by superposed layers, which express the idea of a reality represented as comprising hidden dimensions and invisible domains; and the key role played by ecstatic practitioners in establishing relationships with and acquiring knowledge from these multiple dimensions of the universe. Here, the idea is suggested that these elements could be profitably utilized to interpret the meaning of Paleolithic cave art, not simply implying a series of typological likenesses, but suggesting the possibility of historic (pre-historic) links. It should be remembered that the main settlement of the Americas occurred in a period (from 30,000–20,000 years B.P.) which is contemporaneous with the creation of the masterworks in the caves of France and Spain.
Keywords: palaeolithic rock art; cultural anthropology and prehistory; North American native cultures; indigenous peoples; comparative analysis; cosmology; animism; perspectivism; nature and culture; anthropology of religions
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Comba, E. Amerindian Cosmologies and European Prehistoric Cave Art: Reasons for and Usefulness of a Comparison. Arts 2014, 3, 1-14.
Comba E. Amerindian Cosmologies and European Prehistoric Cave Art: Reasons for and Usefulness of a Comparison. Arts. 2014; 3(1):1-14.
Comba, Enrico. 2014. "Amerindian Cosmologies and European Prehistoric Cave Art: Reasons for and Usefulness of a Comparison." Arts 3, no. 1: 1-14.