Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


Monday 13 February 2012

Recording and Interpreting a Rock Art Complex Situated in Northern Greece: A Tripartite Approach

Stella Pilavaki University College London 2011

Recording and Interpreting a Rock Art Complex Situated in Northern Greece: A Tripartite Approach

Description: 1 volume, 29.7 x 21 cm with 11 fold out pages, 345 pages, 6 tables, 6 charts, 192 figures including 7 maps, tracings of 26 rocks and 187 original colour photographs

Country: United Kingdom

Supervisor: Professor Christopher Tilley

Other supervisors: Professor Robert Layton

Examiners: Dr Nicholas Saunders, Dr David Robinson


This dissertation adopts an innovative tripartite approach in recording and reaching an adequate understanding of a hitherto untheorised and under-investigated rock art complex situated in Northern Greece. Post-structuralism and phenomenology form the theoretical ground on which this study is founded. It phenomenologically explores a set of experiences not restricted to vision but related to a multi-sensory, bodily engagement with the art and the land in which it exists. It also examines the structuring of the motifs in relation to their location in the landscape in order to identify possible patterns indicative of the social actions that generated them and of which they are the material traces. The parameters of this art are then placed and assessed against what is known about the cultural background of the makers from historical sources. This study demonstrates that the conceptual and the experiential are inextricably linked, and thus structuralism and phenomenology are not mutually exclusive as has been often thought. The third aspect of my approach, namely the use of historical literature, allows assessment of the way that structures of meaning might relate to a specific cultural context. The overall aim of this thesis is to evaluate the role that the decoration of rocks may have played in the social construction of landscapes and the constitution of the social self.


Acknowledgements [3]
Abstract [4]
Table of contents [5]
Table of figures [8]
Table of tables [14]
Table of charts [15]

Introduction [16]

Chapter 1 – Literature review [20]

Chapter 2 – Theoretical foundations [23]

Rock art and the social construction of landscapes [23]

The application of structural and semiotic models to rock art analysis: advantages and limitations [30]

Introduction [30]
Structural theory [30]
Assessment of the visual-linguistic signification analogy [31]   
Leroi-Gourhan’s study of the European palaeolithic cave art: a pioneering structuralist analysis [32]
Re-evaluation of prevalent theories [33]
Positive contributions of structuralism and advantages over traditional methodologies [33]
Limitations of structuralism [34]
Theoretical approaches derivative from structuralism [35]

Phenomenology [38]

Psychology of perception [38]
Philosophy [39]
Ethnography [40]
Multisensory approaches to rock art [42]
Bodily kinaesthetics and sensory synaesthetics (Tilley 2008) [43]

Chapter 3 – Methodology [46]

Field methods [46]

Introduction [46]
Locating and recording the rock art [48]

Processing the data [54]

Classification – Terminology [55]

Definition of sites and panels [55]
Definition of scenes and compositions [55]
Formulation of a typology of figures [57]

Chapter 4 – Cultural context and chronology of the art [70]

Chapter 5 – The land [90]

Chapter 6 – Archaeology and history of the study area [94]

Archaeological evidence [94]

Written evidence [102]

Chapter 7 – Style of the art [113]

Introduction: naturalism and schematization [113]

Principles of representation and style of the art [116]

Chapter 8 – The Art in the landscape: a detailed phenomenological description of carving locales, sites and panels [122]

The Confluence of Rivers – Mt Menikion [123]

Site Simvoli [123]
Site Aggitis Canyon [126]
Site Alistrati, Petroto [127]

The west ridges of Mt Pagaeon [131]

Site Rodolivos [132]
Site Mikro Souli – Nea Fili [134]
Site Paleokomi [160]
Site Lakkovikia 1 (Kladniakos) [163]
Site Lakkovikia 2 (Profitis Ilias) [166]
Site Lakkkovikia 3 [167]
Site Lakkovikia 4 [170]

The south ridges of Mt Pagaeon [171]

Site Podochori 1 [172]
Site Podochori 2 [176]
Site Podochori 3 [177]
Site Mesoropi [179]
Site Paleo Hortokopi [179]

Ridge Plagia [185]

Site Plagia [185]

Mt Simvolo [189]

Site Grammeni Petra [190]
Site Stefania [190]

The southwest ridges of Mt Lekani [193]

Site Krinides [194]
Site Philippi [196]
Site Krioneri [218]
Site Zygos [221]
Site Rema Paleas Kavalas [225]
Site Palea Kavala [228]

Chapter 9: Structural – phenomenological analysis [231]

Quantitative analysis – Occurrence of each representational category in the whole [232]

Occurrence of each category of individual figures between carving locales – Differentiation between sites [239]

Differentiation between panels [244]

Examination of rock art sites in relation to water sources [245]

Examination of panels in relation to the size of outcrops [245]

Examination of the art in relation to sunlight [247]

Chapter 10 – The local shepherds’ view of the art and the landscape: an anthropological dimension [262]

Chapter 11 – Aspects of ancient Balkan religions [267]

Chapter 12 – Symbolism [274]

Chapter 13 – Astronomical correlations of the art: the significance of the sky in a prehistoric worldview [281]

Chapter 14 – The significance of the natural elements [287]

The metals: Luminosity and materiality in a prehistoric society [287]

The water [293]

The stone [294]

Conclusion [301]

Appendix 1 – Data sheets [307]
Appendix 2 – GPS Coordinates [325]
References [327]


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