Beyond the Bounds of Western Europe: Paleolithic Art in the Balkan Peninsula

Aitor Ruiz-Redondo, Diego Garate, Manuel R. González-Morales, Ivor Janković, Jacques Jaubert, Ivor Karavanić, Darko Komšo, Steven L. Kuhn, Dušan Mihailović, Óscar Moro Abadía, Marc Vander Linden, Nikola Vukosavljević

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Paleolithic art offers unique perspectives on prehistoric societies and cultures. It is also considered a key component of modern human behavior. Until recently, Paleolithic artworks were thought to be geographically restricted to a very few areas, especially southwestern Europe. Discoveries of art in other parts of Europe and other parts of the globe have challenged this vision, expanding the documented distribution of this important cultural phenomenon. As a consequence, there has been renewed interest in less well-known areas, with the goal of determining whether the current lack of art is a reflection of a past reality, the product of limited research, or a matter of preservation. One of these regions is the Balkan Peninsula, a key area for understanding Upper Paleolithic societies given its location at the crossroads of several migration routes into Europe. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the Paleolithic symbolic products, including both rock art and portable art from the Balkans. Recent research has led to new discoveries and insights into the symbolism of this long-neglected area. The present review, combining existing literature and new fieldwork, sheds new light on social and cultural interactions in this part of the continent and leads to a better understanding of its role within the European Upper Paleolithic cultural sphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-455
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of World Prehistory
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Balkan Peninsula
  • Portable art
  • Rock art
  • Southeastern Europe
  • Symbolic behavior
  • Upper Paleolithic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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