The Rock Art Network
The Rock Art Network
The Rock Art Network
Bradshaw Foundation - Latest News
Half Human Half Animal Rock Art
Thursday 12 February 2015

Half Human Half Animal Rock art; the phenomenon of therianthrops, composite figures and zoomorphs, where characters have human and animal attributes, in rock art around the world.

The interpretation of prehistoric rock art is difficult and controversial. Some of the most intriguing figures found in rock art that reinforce this statement are therianthrops - composite figures, zoomorphs - where characters have human and animal attributes.

the composite figure known as the sorcerer at trois freres in france

'Therianthropy': adjective From Greek therion wild animal + anthropos man. The mythological ability of human beings to metamorphose into animals by means of shapeshifting. 

In Palaeolithic Europe, we see parietal rock art of the 'Sorcerers' of Chauvet, Les Trois-Freres (above) and Gabillou, as well as the portable rock art - sculptures - of a human figure with the head of a lion. In the San rock art of South Africa we see male figures depicted with antelope heads and hooves (below). In New Mexico we see snakes with human heads. In Mexico and Texas we see humans with eagle wings. In fact, therianthrops can be found in prehistoric rock art around the world; they represent a theme entirely created by the human imagination. It is a theme that lasted for over 20,000 years.

composite creatures in rock art such as the San rosetta stone

Why? Some archaeologists believe that therianthrops represent humans wearing costumes such as masks, antlers and animal skins. This may be true literally, but the fact that the practice appears to be so universal suggests that it is also true figuratively; it is a metaphor that represents the ancient belief involving the permeability of boundaries between the human and animal worlds.

This belief allowed people to pass from one domain to another. Humans could be endowed with the qualities and characteristics of a particular animal species.

Visit the France Rock Art Archive:

www.bradshawfoundation.com/france/index.php

Visit the Rock Art Archive of South Africa:

http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/south_africa/index.php

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CAVE PAINTINGS
Charcoal drawings discovered near Brno
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 01 July 2019
Aurignacian dots of Chauvet
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 21 May 2019
Understanding the Great Murals of Baja California
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 14 May 2019
Discovery of figurative rock art in the Balkans
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 11 April 2019
New hand prints found in Altamira
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 08 February 2019
Art in caves
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 29 January 2019
How Art Began with Antony Gormley
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 24 January 2019
Christmas at the Cave of Pont d'Arc
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 10 December 2018
Hand stencils and their missing fingers
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 04 December 2018
Relating Ice Age art with astronomy
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 28 November 2018
Oldest known figurative cave art discovered in Borneo
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 08 November 2018
Baja California rock art film
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 27 September 2018
What & Why is Paleolithic Art?
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 12 September 2018
The Poisonwood Bible and the Rosetta Stone
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 10 August 2018
Whitley on Chauvet
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 01 August 2018
Powerful Images
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 30 July 2018
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