I had the pleasure of serving on this month’s ASBC speaker’s graduate committee and I know if you are in the Victoria area you will be entertained and educated at this talk – which unfortunately I can’t make due to pre-existing public speaking commitments of my own. Genevieve has recently been featured on the cover of New Scientist magazine and there has been something of a global storm of publicity stemming from her Master’s research.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, VICTORIA CHAPTER
March 2010 Monthly Meeting: Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 7:30 pm
Pacific Forestry Centre, 506 West Burnside Road.
The talk is free and open to the public.
Genevieve von Petzinger
Making the Abstract Concrete: The Place of Geometric Signs in French Upper Paleolithic Cave Art.
In Paleolithic cave art, geometric signs tend to outnumber figurative images and yet, they remain relatively understudied. To address this gap in our knowledge, I compiled a digital catalogue of all known geometric signs found in parietal art in France, and then trended the results looking for patterns of continuity and change over time and space. I focused on parietal art, as I could be certain of its provenance, and picked France as my region due to its abundance of decorated sites and its natural boundaries of water and mountain ranges. The database is searchable by a variety of criteria such as sign category, method of production, date range, site type, geographical coordinates and region. It is now being converted into an online resource. To provide a visual dimension, it includes a selection of linked photographs and reproductions of the different signs. In this thesis, I detail the chronological and regional patterning in sign type and frequency and the implications of these patterns for understanding where, when and why the making of these signs was meaningful to the Pleistocene peoples who created them.
(editor’s note: you can download her thesis free of charge here)
Biography Having been interested in the cognitive evolution of modern humans since her undergraduate days at the University of Victoria, Genevieve von Petzinger was finally able to explore this in more depth at the Master’s level. Working with Dr April Nowell, again at the University of Victoria, she was able to pursue this interest, and received her MA in June 2009. Using the geometric signs of Upper Paleolithic rock art, Genevieve discovered some very interesting information about these early examples of symbolic behaviour, and presented her findings at the Paleoanthropology Society meeting in Chicago, Illinois in April 2009. This presentation was the catalyst for her research being featured as the Feb. 20th, 2010 cover story in New Scientist magazine. This exposure then led to a strong media follow-up, which included an interview on the Discovery Channel, a feature in the Tuttoscienze supplemental of La Stampa in Italy, an article in the Globe and Mail, and a full page feature in the Vancouver Sun, as well many other popular press articles and radio interviews in French and English, both nationally and internationally. While being slightly overwhelmed by all the attention, Genevieve has been very excited about the positive response, and is just thrilled that other people want to hear her talk about her favourite subject!
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