Using visual psychology to interrogate early prehistoric art

Annual joint lecture with Norwich and Norfolk Archaeological Society
Dr Lisa-Elen Meyering (Durham University)
Norwich Castle Museum, Castle Meadow, Norwich
Image of rock art


Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) archaeology provides the only evidence for the origins of art, but its record is notoriously difficult to interrogate in testable ways. Even multidisciplinary approaches to understanding some of the earliest archaeologically recognisable art are still very rare. This talk will illuminate ways in which two very different disciplines, Archaeology and Psychology, can help us arrive at an unprecedented understanding of early art in Europe. In particular, approaches from the field of Visual Psychology offer new methodologies for understanding the perceptual basis of the art in question. Unlike the well-studied caves of southern France and northern Spain, the focus of Dr Meyering's talk will be on lesser-known open-air rock art of the Côa Valley in Portugal and portable art from Gönnersdorf in Germany.