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Prehistoric MaterialitiesBecoming Material in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland$
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Andrew Meirion Jones

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199556427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199556427.001.0001

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Materials, Colour, and Light

Materials, Colour, and Light

(p.72) 4 Materials, Colour, and Light
Prehistoric Materialities

Andrew Meirion Jones

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the material properties of light. It suggests that light alters the experiential appreciation of materials; and that the effects of light are as significant as solid features themselves. These issues are examined using two case studies involving the Neolithic period. The first considers light and colour in rock art production and use in Argyll, Scotland; the second deals with light in the settlements and passage graves of Neolithic Orkney. It shows that the changing character of materials under light was significant to the prehistoric populations of Argyll, as the carving of rock art actively promoted a changed appearance under certain light conditions. In Neolithic Orkney, the orientation of house entrances and hearths upon calendrical events, and the centrality of the hearth, actively incorporated light into the Neolithic house. Because of the observed changes in the character of materials, light is simultaneously a means of observing changes in time.

Keywords:   Neolithic rock art, houses, passage tombs, Neolithic Orkney, archaeology, time, settlement, passage graves

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