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Rethinking the Structural Analysis of Palaeolithic Art: New Perspectives on Leroi-Gourhan's Structuralism

  • Oscar Moro Abadía (a1) and Eduardo Palacio-Pérez (a2)

André Leroi-Gourhan's work is usually considered a paradigmatic example of the application of structuralist ideas to the study of Palaeolithic art. The association between Leroi-Gourhan and structuralism is, however, problematic. Leroi-Gourhan explicitly distinguished his approach from that of Lévi-Strauss. Furthermore, he developed an explanatory model for the analysis of cave and portable art based on a number of postulates that were not necessarily connected to structuralism. We examine Leroi-Gourhan's understanding of Palaeolithic art in order to determine the influence of structuralism upon his work. This examination will help us to consider some alternative perspectives on the so-called structural analysis of Palaeolithic art. Moreover, Leroi-Gourhan's case will allow us to reflect on how archaeologists appropriate theory from other disciplines and how intellectual production in archaeology works.

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Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • ISSN: 0959-7743
  • EISSN: 1474-0540
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-archaeological-journal
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