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Prehistoric Figurines: Representation and Corporeality in the Neolithic Paperback – April 22, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0415331524 ISBN-10: 0415331528 Edition: New Ed

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; New Ed edition (April 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415331528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415331524
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.6 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,369,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


‘There is certainly much of interest here, Many of the sources that Bailey brings to bear are completely novel to existing scholarship on prehistoric figurines, and they yield some real insights. The book itself is engagingly written and well illustrated. Discussions of the diverse sources make for a lively read.’Cambridge Archaeological Journal

'Whatever you know about prehistoric figurines, this book will open your eyes and make you think... Bailey halps the reader all the way, with a meticulously constructed tect, written in an absorbing style; it combines some closely observed descriptions of the forms of figurines with comprehensive syntheses of their archaeological contexts, critical reviews of previous studies and interpretations, accessible explanations of complex ideas about human representation, and a selection of photographs and line drawings that work actively alongside the text... this is an outstanding book, because it poses so many thought-provoking questions about the complex qualities of visual representations of human bodies in the past and their significance today. – Antiquity

'...engagingly written and well illustrated...Bailey makes a bold effort to open up interpretation of Neolithic figurines from southeastern Europe...provoking thoughts far beyond any traditional archaeological bounds.'Richard G. Lesure, University of California

About the Author

Dr Douglass Bailey is Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University and a world authority on the prehistory of eastern Europe. He has conducted fieldwork in Romania and Bulgaria and written on a wide range of topics including art, architecture, and the politics of archaeology. His Balkan Prehistory (Routledge 2000) is the standard text on the southeast European Neolithic

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Warning: read this book at your own peril. On the other hand, if you want to get less knowledgeable than you were yesterday, this book is for you. According to Bailey, Neolithic anthropomorphic figurines -- which are 95% female -- were made for males and males alone. He is one in a long line of sheep who have tripped over themselves following the lead of archaeologist Colin Renfew in his crusade to crucify the highly successful and highly regarded archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, who (rightly) saw that many if not most Neolithic figurines were considered religious icons by their makers and users.

In the world of archaeology Renfrew has tons of political power, so no one wants to cross him. Bailey however goes out of his way to lick Renfrew's boots, going so far as to say that some Neolithic figurines were made in order to model sadomasochism. He says that some of the figurines from Thessaly he studied show "the potential mix of pain and pleasure that comes both from bondage ..., from such physical abuse..., and furthermore, from the distanced spectation of the abuse of others (which the act of looking at the figurine of a bound woman evokes).... There is a dynamic tension between pain and pleasure in the bound bodies, especially the female..." (p. 165).

Doug, I think you need to get out more. You're "reading" the figurines with your twenty-first-century patriarchal lenses lined up squarely on your nose, and firmly fogging your view of the Neolithic. It's you and other patriarchal men who make women suffer, and the Neolithic figurine makers were far from patriarchal.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John D. Minton on February 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bailey's Prehistoric Figurines fails the first rule of archaeology: "In order to attempt to understanding of Neolithic symbols we must first of all shed our present-day preconceptions." (Cameron, Symbols of Birth and Death in the Neolithic Era) Projecting modern miniatures and Barbie dolls onto Neolithic symbols is not archaeology. If this is "The way archaeology needs to go," any attempt to understanding ancient cultures is doomed. I should have paid attention to Jeri Studebaker's review.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By O. Ghiocel on February 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most extraordinary books about archeological discoveries in the last 20 years, and offers great insights into the Balkan neolithic cultures, which are so little known and mysterious outside of their respective regions. these cultures such as Cucuteni and Hamangia are captivating, and as a person originally from romania I am simply amazed. I applaud Mr. Bailey for writing this relevant book- not only its archeological validity, but as a new way to understand the neolithic past, to see that after all, people were not so primitive back then. they culture is totally fascinating. This is a must read book for anyone who cares about the beginnings of civilization, lost civilizations, and the history of art. Seems that we were great artists in neolithic times, and modern art is just a rediscovery of the past.
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