Accepted Papers:

Palaeolithic 'Venus' figurines: persons as objects or objects as persons?  


Andrew Needham (The University of York)

Paper Short Abstract:

An introduction to dividual personhood will be delivered and then used to develop new insights into Palaeolithic 'Venus' figurines. It will be suggested that, to those people making and using them, 'Venus' figurines may not have represented a person but could have been a person in their own right.

Paper long abstract:

'Venus' figurines are often considered as representations of people but here, using personhood as a source of inspiration to explore outside the confines of a Western world view, it is suggested that 'Venus' figurines can be interpreted as persons in their own right. It is argued that moving away from what feels 'intuitively right' and beginning to explore alternate perspectives could yield interesting results and important advances. In addition to providing new insights into 'Venus' figurines, this is also a case study in how alternate world views detailed in anthropology more generally may act as inspiration for archaeological models, especially where material evidence is ambiguous, such as in the ritual/religious and social spheres.

panel P01
Thinking, acting and knowing through religious 'things': artefacts in the making of cosmology