Activities per year
In this project we aim to explore the meaning and significance of the use of masks in the European Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic, a period spanning the appearance of our own species to the emergence of agricultural communities. We will investigate how masks were made, what they looked like, when they were worn and how these practices changed over this long period of time. While masks today are seen as disguising the wearer, studies of contemporary hunter-gather groups reveal they are often viewed as powerful objects that can have more fundamental effects on the body of the wearer: they can transform people into animals or act as windows into other worlds, for example. A series of in-depth case studies will allow us to consider the broader significance of masks in relation to the beliefs of the time, their role in ritual practice and why they were sometimes worn by the dead.
This project is the first to investigate masks in early prehistoric Europe and their relationship to the earliest human representations. Masks are important because they offer a window into very different ways of life in the remote past: masks can help us understand what it meant to be a person and how the nature of the human body was understood; they can inform on the social and spiritual significance of particular animal species; ideas about death and, more broadly, ancient worldviews. By taking a different approach to bodies of evidence that are key to the history of humanity, this project has the potential to offer substantial new insights into past lives.
|Short title||Unmasking Masks|
|Effective start/end date||1/10/19 → 30/09/22|
- University of the Highlands and Islands
- School of History, Classics, and Archaeology, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK (lead)
- 1 Oral presentation
Chantal Conneller (Speaker) & Benjamin Elliott (Speaker)4 Jul 2022
Activity: Talk / Presentation / Podcast / Webinar › Oral presentation
- 2 Article
Clamber of the dead: material ontology and cosmological affect within the hunter-gatherer mortuary traditions of the Eastern Baltic 4000-3000 cal. BCElliott, B., Nilsson Stutz, L. & Conneller, C., 11 Nov 2021, In: World Archaeology. 52, 5, p. 707 723 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen Access
Elliott, B. & Conneller, C., 19 Oct 2020, In: World Archaeology. 52, 5, p. 655-666 11 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen Access3 Citations (Scopus)