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18 August 2010
Pleistocene Art of the World Congress 2010

A major palaeoart congress will be held from 6 to 11 September 2010 in the heartland of the Franco-Cantabrian cave art traditions, at Tarascon-sur-Ariège and Foix, France. The congress will be hosted by IFRAO in conjunction with French government authorities. Fieldtrip programs will include privileged visits to Palaeolithic cave art sites in France.
     Since archaeologists accepted the existence of Pleistocene rock art two centuries ago, investigation of this phenomenon has been largely focused on a small region of western Europe, which has yielded over 300 cave sites of the most exquisite Palaeolithic rock art. Research in recent decades has suggested that most Pleistocene palaeoart of the world may not be figurative, and most may be of Middle rather than Upper Palaeolithic modes of production. New evidence suggests there appears to be almost no figurative graphic art of the Pleistocene outside of western Europe.
     Typically, graphic Pleistocene art of Asia, Africa and Australia seems to be mostly non-figurative, and the corpus of Australian Pleistocene rock art, which  some assume to be the largest in the world, is entirely of Middle Palaeolithic traditions. Palaeoart of the final Pleistocene seems to occur in North America  and may also yet be found in South America. Finally, India has yielded rock art even of the Lower Palaeolithic, and similarly ancient palaeoart may conceivably occur in Africa.
     This scenario differs so significantly from the popular model of Pleistocene art that a congress should be dedicated to this subject, addressing questions of dating, of the definitions of palaeoart, and of regional distribution of evidence in each continent.
     The symposia will comprise Pleistocene art in Africa (Peter Beaumont and Dirk Huyge); Pleistocene art in the Americas (Alice Tratebas, André Prous, María Mercedes Podestá); Pleistocene art in Asia (Giriraj Kumar and Majeed Khan); Pleistocene art in Australia (Robert Bednarik and John Campbell); Pleistocene art in Europe (Jean Clottes and Manuel González Morales); Signs, symbols, myth, ideology in Pleistocene art: the archaelogical material and its anthropological meanings (Dario Seglie, Mike Singleton, Marcel Otte, Enrico Comba, Luiz Oosterbeek); Dating and taphonomy of Pleistocene palaeoart (Jean Clottes and Robert Bednarik); Application of forensic techniques to Pleistocene palaeoart investigations (Yann-Pierre Montelle and Robert Bednarik)  and Pleistocene portable art (Aline Averbough and Valérie Feruglio).
     Hotel information and bookings: Comité départemental du Tourisme 'Loisirs Accueil'. Email: ifrao.ariege.2010@sesta.fr. Visits of caves (Niaux, Bédeilhac, Le Mas d'Azil, Gargas) and Palaeolithic art museums (Le Mas d'Azil, Musée Bégouën) will be organised both during and at the end of the Congress.

Source: IFRAO (August 2010)

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