By Richard Bradley
Alongside the Atlantic seaboard, from Scotland to Spain, are quite a few rock carvings made 4 to 5 thousand years in the past, whose interpretation poses an incredible problem to the archaeologist.
In the 1st full-length therapy of the topic, dependent mostly on new fieldwork, Richard Bradley argues that those carvings will be interpreted as a sequence of symbolic messages which are shared among monuments, artefacts and usual locations within the panorama. He discusses the cultural surroundings of the rock carvings and the ways that they are often interpreted relating to historical land use, the production of formality monuments and the burial of the lifeless. Integrating this attention-grabbing but little-known fabric into the mainstream of prehistoric reviews, Richard Bradley demonstrates that those carvings performed a basic function within the association of the prehistoric panorama.
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Extra resources for Rock Art and the Prehistory of Atlantic Europe: Signing the Land
First, there is the question of communication between the Atlantic and the West Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar. This axis was especially significant because of the difficulty of long-distance movement across the Iberian peninsula. Although some writers have treated the Straits of Gibraltar as an almost impermeable barrier, this was clearly not the case in later prehistory when the network of Phoenician seaports reached to the Atlantic Ocean (Aubet 1993). Second, there has been a tendency to treat European prehistory quite separately from the prehistory of North Africa, and this is also mistaken, for as early as the third millennium BC artefacts were being exchanged between Spain and Morocco (Harrison and Gilman 1977).
The most intriguing of these sites occur in Brittany where some of the burials were in slab-lined graves. Nearly all these sites date from the Late Mesolithic period, and this creates some uncertainty, for it is during the same phase that we have the first evidence for the exploitation of domesticated plants and animals, some of which do not seem to have been present in these areas before. Their adoption marks one of the major thresholds in Atlantic prehistory and is supposed to define the transition to a ‘Neolithic’ way of life.
Rock art could also be recorded by small-scale measured drawings, photographs or rubbings. It did not demand the special skills needed in other kinds of field survey. As a result, like the collection of worked flints, a valuable contribution to archaeology was entirely overlooked by those who had made it their career and very little of this work was published in the major journals. Such publications as did appear were widely scattered and often difficult to obtain, so it took some time to appreciate the full extent of this phenomenon.