A mousterian engraved bone: Principles of perception in middle paleolithic art

Dana Shaham*, Anna Belfer-Cohen, Rivka Rabinovich, Naama Goren-Inbar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The appearance of art as a constant component of human culture is attributed to several Upper Paleolithic traditions. The record of earlier artistic manifestations is rather scanty and chronogeographically varied, although crucial for studies of human behavioral evolution. Here we describe an engraved bone fromthe Middle Paleolithic site of Quneitra, depicting an image similar to that of another artwork found in the same layer. The results of the comparative study indicate that the two artworks from Quneitra share a unique quality of illusion-artistic manipulations that create optical effects described as the “complementary effect.” These artistic manipulations articulate cognitive properties of the human mind at large and can be explained through the prism of the Gestalt principles of perception. The results of this study suggest that illusion is part and parcel of artistic creation from its beginnings.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)708-716
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Anthropology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

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© 2019 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved.


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