Interpreting Ancient Figurines:
Context, Comparison, and Prehistoric Art
by Richard G. Lesure
• Cambridge University Press, 2011
• ISBN-13: 9780521197458
This book examines ancient figurines from several world areas to address recurring challenges in the interpretation of prehistoric art. Sometimes figurines from one context are perceived to resemble those from another. Richard Lesure asks whether such should resemblances play a role in our interpretations. Early interpreters seized on the idea that figurines were recurringly female and constructed the fanciful myth of a primordial Neolithic Goddess.
Contemporary practice instead rejects interpretive leaps across contexts. Dr. Lesure offers a middle path: a new framework for assessing the relevance of particular comparisons. He develops the argument in case studies that consider figurines from Paleolithic Europe, the Neolithic Near East, and Formative Mesoamerica.
'The Goddess Diffracted' by Richard G. Lesure
Published in Current Anthropology, Volume 43, Number 4, August-October 2002 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved.
Published on the Bradshaw Foundation website with the permission of the author.
The Bradshaw Foundation Book Review
|Richard G. Lesure is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He conducts archaeological fieldwork in Mexico and has authored papers on prehistoric figurines in Current Anthropology and the Cambridge Archaeological Journal.
His other books include Settlement and Subsistence in Early Formative Soconusco (Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, 2009) and Early Mesoamerican Social Transformations (University of California Press, in press). Their findings shed new light on how populations developed between Southeast Asia and Australia