The social dimension of human depiction in Magdalenian rock art (16,500 cal. BP–12,000 cal. BP): The case of the Roc-aux-Sorciers rock-shelter


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The social dimension of human depiction in Magdalenian rock art (16,500 cal. BP–12,000 cal. BP): The case of the Roc-aux-Sorciers rock-shelter
Series Title:
Quaternary International
Fuentes, Oscar
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Palaeolithic Art ( local )
Rock Art ( local )
Roc-Aux-Sorciers ( local )
Human Depiction ( local )
Magdalenian ( local )
Identity ( local )
serial ( sobekcm )


The rock shelter of Le Roc-aux-Sorciers is one of the major Upper Palaeolithic sites of Europe, along with the caves of Chauvet and Lascaux. At the foot of the cliff of Le Roc-aux-Sorciers, from the 1930s onwards, the research carried out by Lucien Rousseau (1927–1933), S. de Saint-Mathurin (between 1947 and 1990), and then by G. Pinçon (since 1993) has led to a better understanding of this place that was occupied by hunter-gatherers 15,000 years ago. This is a rare example of an archaeological site that features a rich regular occupation (between 15,000 BP and 14,000 BP) attributed to the Middle Magdalenian associated with monumental parietal art. The sculpted frieze, an exceptional testimony to the artistic mastery of these peoples, contains – over a distance of almost 20 m – more than thirty animal and human depictions. The human figures, which are very prominent in this parietal art, make this place even more remarkable. The humans depicted on the shelter's wall and ceiling enable us to discuss these people's thought processes. The images pose the question of how these hunter-gatherers conceived the body, as well as the constructions of identity that may stem from that. In this article I propose to present a synthesis of the human depictions of Le Roc-aux-Sorciers and to analyse the role of these images in the occupation of the territory, and the inscription of the human groups in the landscape. It appears that, in the mechanisms of otherness of the ethnic groups of the Upper Palaeolithic, human depictions played an important role in the expression of identities.
Original Version:
Quaternary International, Vol. 430, no. A (2017-02).

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