Children as Playful Artists: Integrating Developmental Psychology to Identify Children’s Art in the Upper Palaeolithic

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Abstract

Children’s agential behaviours in the archaeological record have often been overlooked. Despite efforts to centre children in the past through an archaeology of childhood, there remains a fundamental challenge of rigorously distinguishing children’s behaviours from those of adults. In Upper Palaeolithic art, this has been addressed through the analysis of anatomical measurements of traces produced by hands and figures, demonstrating children were often engaging in artistic behaviours. However, the dependency on anatomical measurements limits the cases for Upper Palaeolithic children’s art. Using developmental psychological research on children’s drawings, we developed a framework through which children’s marks in the Upper Palaeolithic art record can be identified, without needing to rely on anatomical measurements, and applied this to a case study example from Las Monedas cave (Cantabria, Spain). Our approach has vast potential for enriching our knowledge of children’s art in the Upper Palaeolithic, and appreciating children’s art within the playful, tactile, and narrative engagement of its making.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2024
Publication statusUnpublished - 2024
EventPalaeolithic-Mesolithic Conference - British Museum, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Apr 202412 Apr 2024
https://www.pabproject.org/british-museum-palaeolithic-mesolithic-conference-2024/

Conference

ConferencePalaeolithic-Mesolithic Conference
LocationBritish Museum
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityLondon
Period11/04/202412/04/2024
Internet address

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