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Bradshaw Foundation Glossary Rock Art Terms Definitions
Bradshaw Foundation Glossary Rock Art Terms Definitions
Bradshaw Foundation Glossary Rock Art Terms Definitions
Bradshaw Foundation
Glossary | P
Terms & Definitions

palaeoart
Collective term relating to manifestations of art from the distant past.
Palaeolithic
The earliest part of the Stone Age, characterized by chipped stone tools.
Palaeolithic figurines
Prehistoric statuettes of women portrayed with similar physical attributes from the Upper Palaeolithic, mostly found in Europe, but with finds as far east as Irkutsk Oblast, Siberia, extending their distribution to much of Eurasia, from the Pyrenees to Lake Baikal. Most of them date to the Gravettian period, but there are a number of early examples from the Aurignacian, including the Hohle Fels figurine, discovered in 2008, carbon dated to at least 35,000 years ago, and late examples of the Magdelanian, such as the Monruz figurine, aged about 11,000 years. The figurines were carved from soft stone (such as steatite, calcite or limestone), bone or ivory, or formed of clay and fired. The latter are among the oldest ceramics known. Virtually all are of modest size, between 4 cm and 25 cm in height. Considered to be 'portable art'; art to be held. The term 'venus' is a much later and erroneous term.
palaeontology
The study of life in prehistoric times by using fossil evidence.
panel
Arbitrary assemblage of rock art elements spatially confined to a particular area and set off from neighboring groupings.
parietal art
Art on the rock walls of prehistoric caves and rock shelters, including drawings, engravings, carvings and paintings; often used interchangeably with rupestrian.
petroform
see rock alignment.
petroglyph
Rock art produced by carving, engraving, chipping, pecking, or scratching into the darkly varnished surface of the natural rock, thereby effecting a high contrast with the lighter underlying matrix.
phantasmomorph
Rock art motif of fantastical form, typically combining human and animal characteristics. See therianthrope.
phosphene
Term referring to abstract design elements (set of parallel lines, pattern of dots, grids, spirals, zigzags, filigrees, etc.), occurring in the visual cortex of the human brain without the presence of visual stimuli; also known as form constants, they are induced by a variety of means, including pressure on the eye, fatigue, trauma to the head, fasting, sensory deprivation, migraine, or the ingestion of hallucinogenic substances.
phytomorph
Rock art motif of plantlike shape.
pictoglyph
Painted petroglyph.
pictograph
Rock art produced by painting or drawing an image on a rock surface.
Pleistocene
Of or belonging to the geologic era known as the Ice Ace. Beginning about 2 million years ago and lasting to 10,000 BP, it was characterized by major climatic contrasts, particularly the advance of ice sheets.
prehistory
The period before history was first recorded in writing. The study of the prehistoric period using archaeological evidence.

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