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Palaeolithic Cave Art at Creswell Crags in European Context$
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Paul Pettitt, Paul Bahn, Sergio Ripoll, and Francisco Javier Muñoz Ibáñez

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199299171

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199299171.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 October 2021

Cultural Context and Form of Some of the Creswell Images: An Interpretative Model

Cultural Context and Form of Some of the Creswell Images: An Interpretative Model

(p.112) 8 Cultural Context and Form of Some of the Creswell Images: An Interpretative Model
Palaeolithic Cave Art at Creswell Crags in European Context

Paul B. Pettitt

Oxford University Press

Since Dorothy Garrod (1926) coined the term ‘Creswellian’ to describe the British Late Upper Palaeolithic archaeology and in doing so emphasized its differences from the contemporary Late Magdalenian, the degree of connectedness of British Late Glacial hunter-gatherers with those of the continental mainland has been debated. Garrod pointed to the robust local tradition of single and double obliquely truncated backed pieces—Creswell and Cheddar Points respectively—and emphasized their dissimilarity, warranting in her opinion a separate taxonomic classification for the ‘provincial’ archaeology of Britain. Jacobi (1991) was the first to realize the problems with such a ‘splitting’ perspective, noting how the main type fossils of the Creswellian could be found among continental assemblages. While to a certain degree the problem can be seen as deriving from the specific culture-historical paradigm that Garrod was working within (Charles 1999), the degree of connection or distance between hunter-gatherer groups operating in Late Glacial Britain and those on the continent has remained a contentious issue. It is certainly difficult to find contemporary assemblages on the continent that contain all of the type fossils of British Late Glacial assemblages (Barton et al. 2003), and the few that exist are still undated (Jacobi 2004: 66). Consequently, the date and process by which the British assemblages became distinct remain to be established. The relative paucity in the UK of art mobilier and the total lack until April 2003 of parietal art of any form seemed to reinforce the distinction between Late Glacial Interstadial sites in Britain and on the continent. Engravings on bone, antler, and stone plaquettes and blocks are ubiquitous on continental sites, and the paucity of such materials on British sites could be seen in the context of Garrod’s regional emphasis to suggest a cultural difference. The discovery of the art, however, and its clear formal parallels with continental examples throw the issue of connectedness into sharp focus. Unlike sagaies, lithic armatures, and other tools, cave art is not a portable artefact. Whereas therefore design similarities between portable artefacts may result from exchange between far-flung and perhaps culturally distinct groups, formal similarities between rock art must suggest formal similarities of design and execution in the minds of artists; it is the concept that is portable.

Keywords:   Doggerland, Lateglacial Interstadial, Sagaies, Tjonger points, Younger Dryas (Greenland Stadial, backed pieces, red deer (Cervus elaphus)

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