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The Penultimate CuriosityHow Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions$
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Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747956.001.0001

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Watauinaiwa

Chapter:
(p.16) Chapter Three Watauinaiwa
Source:
The Penultimate Curiosity
Author(s):

Roger Wagner

Andrew Briggs

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747956.003.0003

This chapter focuses on the connections between primitive rock art and the spiritual world. It asks: When, where, and how did this investing of the physical world with a spiritual dimension first begin? Might it have some connection with the peculiar and distinctive development of human curiosity that ultimately gives rise to science? It describes the association of ‘vision quests’ with North American rock art and of ‘trance dances’ with Southern African rock art. It considers the difficulty of playing ‘ethnographic snap’, i.e., finding apparent similarities between cultures separated by huge geographical or temporal distances. It argues that, despite the perils of ‘ethnographic snap’, the parallels between the discoveries of anthropologists and the discovery of Palaeolithic paintings and sculptures make it hard to escape the conclusion that this kind of awareness goes back deep into prehistory.

Keywords:   rock art, rock paintings, spiritual power, North America, South Africa, Palaeolithic art, vision quest, prehistoric art, trance dance, prehistory

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