How Ancient Europeans Saw the World

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-08-06
  • Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr

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The peoples who inhabited Europe during the two millennia before the Roman conquests had established urban centers, large-scale production of goods such as pottery and iron tools, a money economy, and elaborate rituals and ceremonies. Yet as Peter Wells argues here, the visual world of these late prehistoric communities was profoundly different from those of ancient Rome's literate civilization and today's industrialized societies. Drawing on startling new research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, Wells reconstructs how the peoples of pre-Roman Europe saw the world and their place in it. He sheds new light on how they communicated their thoughts, feelings, and visual perceptions through the everyday tools they shaped, the pottery and metal ornaments they decorated, and the arrangements of objects they made in their ritual places--and how these forms and patterns in turn shaped their experience. How Ancient Europeans Saw the Worldoffers a completely new approach to the study of Bronze Age and Iron Age Europe, and represents a major challenge to existing views about prehistoric cultures. The book demonstrates why we cannot interpret the structures that Europe's pre-Roman inhabitants built in the landscape, the ways they arranged their settlements and burial sites, or the complex patterning of their art on the basis of what these things look like to us. Rather, we must view these objects and visual patterns as they were meant to be seen by the ancient peoples who fashioned them.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. vii
Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Theory and Method
Of Monsters and Flowersp. 1
Seeing and Shaping Objectsp. 18
The Visual Worlds of Early Europep. 34
Frame, Focus, Visualizationp. 52
Material: Objects and Arrangements
Pottery: The Visual Ecology of the Everydayp. 72
Attraction and Enchantment: Fibulaep. 99
Status and Violence: Swords and Scabbardsp. 112
Arranging Spaces: Objects in Gravesp. 131
Performances: Objects and Bodies in Motionp. 155
New Media in the Late Iron Age: Coins and Writingp. 176
Interpreting the Patterns
Changing Patterns in Objects and in Perceptionp. 188
Contacts, Commerce, and the Dynamics of New Visual Patternsp. 200
The Visuality of Objects, Past and Presentp. 222
Bibliographic Essayp. 231
References Citedp. 249
Indexp. 281
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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