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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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JournalPLoS ONE
DateIn preparation - 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Jul 2020
DatePublished (current) - 19 Aug 2020
Issue number8
Volume15
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

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.

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© 2020 Bello et al.

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