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Upper Palaeolithic female representations: an eye tracking study.

Hirst, S.J.H., 2019. Upper Palaeolithic female representations: an eye tracking study. Masters Thesis (Masters). Bournemouth University.

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HIRST, Samuel Jonathan Harvey_M.Res._2019.pdf



The Venus Figurine tradition of the Upper Palaeolithic has sparked significant academic interest over the last century. Past studies of these sculptures have produced an array of theories relating to their function, ranging from being symbols of fertility and attractiveness, to self-representations and signifiers of identity, as well as evidence of communication networks. Although many differing theories have put forward in the past, much of this work does not consider the morphological differences exhibited by the Venus Figurines. From the existing literature, it is apparent that the inclusiveness of the current method of grouping these sculptures is detrimental to their study. Therefore, the subdivision of this prehistoric art into three distinct categories is proposed. Through the application of eye tracking, a well-established psychological technique, the ways in which each of these categories are subconsciously visually interacted with has been measured. The varying levels of attention that each of the areas within each sculpture gain is indicative of their importance. The findings of this study show that each category of Venus Figurine receives a different viewing pattern, supporting the notion that they should be treated as separate aspects within the tradition of Upper Palaeolithic female representations. This cross-disciplinary approach towards the investigation of this artistic movement has not only encouraged the reclassification of these sculptures into distinct typologies, but also offers insight into the potential ways in which they functioned within Upper Palaeolithic society. Through pairwise comparisons of the effects of each category on the dwell time to the Interest Areas, the relative importance within the sculptures of specific features has been identified. This knowledge both offers support to some existing theories, whilst bringing others into dispute. The success of this joint approach towards the interpretation of archaeological material is indicative of the benefits that can be gained by archaeology through an expansion into the realm of psychology.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:upper palaeolithic; venus figurines; eye tracking
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:32317
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:21 May 2019 10:18
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:16


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