Artists on the edge of the world : an integrated approach to the study of Magdalenian engraved stone plaquettes from Jersey (Channel Islands)
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The Upper Palaeolithic is characterised by the appearance of iconographic expressions most often depicting animals, including anthropomorphic forms, and geometric signs. The Late Upper Palaeolithic Magdalenian saw a flourishing of such depictions, encompassing cave art, engraving of stone, bone and antler blanks and decoration of tools and weapons. Though Magdalenian settlement exists as far northwest as Britain, there is a limited range of art known from this region, possibly associated with only fleeting occupation of Britain during this period. Stone plaquettes, flat fragments of stone engraved on at least one surface, have been found in large quantities at numerous sites spanning the temporal and geographical spread of the Magdalenian, but they have been absent so far from the archaeological record of the British Isles. Between 2015 and 2018, ten fragments of stone plaquettes extensively engraved with abstract designs were uncovered at the Magdalenian site of Les Varines, Jersey, Channel Islands. In this paper, we report detailed analyses of these finds, which provide new evidence for technologies of abstract mark-making, and their significance within the lives of people on the edge of the Magdalenian world. These engraved stone fragments represent important, rare evidence of artistic expression in what is the far northern and western range of the Magdalenian and add new insight to the wider significance of dynamic practices of artistic expression during the Upper Palaeolithic.
Bello , S M , Blinkhorn , E , Needham , A , Bates , M , Duffy , S , Little , A , Pope , M , Scott , B , Shaw , A , Welch , M D , Kinnaird , T , Millar , L , Robinson , R & Conneller , C 2020 , ' Artists on the edge of the world : an integrated approach to the study of Magdalenian engraved stone plaquettes from Jersey (Channel Islands) ' , PLoS ONE , vol. 15 , no. 8 , e0236875 . https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0236875
Copyright: © 2020 Bello et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
DescriptionExcavations at Les Varines were funded by Jersey Heritage through the States of Jersey Tourism Development Fund (https://www.gov.je/Leisure/Events/TourismDevelopmentFundTDF/pages/abouttdf.aspx) in 2013-15 and in 2017 (BS received the funding), by the British Museum research fund in 2016-18 (https://www.britishmuseum.org/research) (Grant nos EC164/EC208) (BS received the funding), in 2016 by British Academy (https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk) small grant SG152868 (CC received the funding) and Society of Antiquaries (https://www.sal.org.uk/) Research Grants R121086 in 2017 and BH181355 in 2018 (CC received the funding). Funding from the Universities of Manchester, Southampton and UCL supported student training at the excavation. Silvia Bello’s work was part of the ‘Human Behaviour in 3D’ Project funded by the Calleva Foundation. Beccy Scott’s work was also supported by the Calleva foundation (Pathways to Ancient Britain project).
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