The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Perth and Kinross


Bahn Lecture

Paul Bahn finishes a series of six Rhind lectures, "Art on the Rocks", tomorrow at the National Museum of Scotland. I managed to get to three on the Saturday. All were hugely informative, entertaining thought provoking and at times very funny. The one that would be of interest to most was "The Emperor's New Clothes". I won't twitter too much so here's wee synopsis.

It appears that there is not that much opposition, other than Bahn himself, to the David Lewis Williams' shamanic hypothesis but he pointed out that a majority of Neurophysiologists and Ice Age experts do not accept it and that in South Africa the experts on the ethnography of the tribes cited disagree entirely with him as does the "Stan" of South Africa, Bert Woodhouse. More importantly Tribesmen when asked their opinion on the carvings never mention shaman, this applies to other continents as well as Africa and oddly an area that provides some positive ethnography to the theory has no RA. A great iconoclastic attack that might help redress the balance. The theory has replaced the old hunting and sympathetic magic type explanations and likes lots of archaeo mantras it makes for lazy thinking. Nobody is denying the importance or existence of shamanism to many cultures but we have no evidence for it being an explanation for RA here, and as Paul would have it anywhere else. For me the Lewis – Williams books were stimulating reads that will probably influence thinking in this area for a generation but like a lot of big archaeo ideas the cracks were visible a while ago and are getting bigger.
tiompan Posted by tiompan
18th March 2006ce
Edited 19th March 2006ce

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to add a comment