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The Mind in the Cave

Consciousness and the Origins of Art

David Lewis-Williams


An intellectual adventure story, built around the quest to understand the nature of human consciousness and the dawning of art

Also available as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon


What does the breathtakingly beautiful art depicted on the walls of caves such as Lascaux, Chauvet and Altamira, tell us about the nature of the ancestral mind? How did these images spring, seemingly from nowhere into the human story?

The Mind in the Cave puts forward the most plausible explanation yet proposed for the origins of image-making and art. This is a masterful piece of detective work, casting light on the darkest mysteries of our earliest ancestors and on the nature of our own consciousness and experience.

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'A fascinating and closely argued analysis'
Colin Renfrew, University of Cambridge

'The most comprehensive and convincing explanation for the cave art in Europe so far'
Chris Stringer, Evening Standard

'A thorough, accessible and beautifully illustrated history of the origins of art based on anthropological and neurological research'

'A genuine masterpiece'
Jean Clottes

'It is hard to praise this book too highly. I have read nothing more fascinating all year'
John Carey, Sunday Times

'A masterly piece of detective work'
Sunday Telegraph

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 23.4 x 15.6 cm

Extent: 320 pp

Illustrations: 94

Publication date: 5 April 2004

ISBN: 9780500284650

Contents List

Preface; Three Time-Bytes; 1. Discovering Human Antiquity; 2 Seeking Answers; 3. Creative Illusion; 4. The Matter of the Mind; 5. Case Study 1: Southern African San Rock Art; 6. Case Study 2: North American Rock Art; 7. An Origin of Image-Making; 8. The Cave in the Mind; 9. Cave and Community; 10. Cave and Conflict

About the Author

David Lewis-Williams is Professor Emeritus and Senior Mentor in the Rock Art Research Institute, University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg. Among his books are The Mind in the Cave, Inside the Neolithic Mind (with David Pearce) and The Shamans of Prehistory (with Jean Clottes).