Rarely does one read a text which upends an academic discipline, slams it against the wall and with a forensic scalpel skewers its epistemology. This is such a book. For many years Bednarik has written on the blunders and follies of the archaeological establishment. In 'Creating the Human Past'  he reviewed the discipline's failure to provide a cohesive, scientific account of the surviving traces our species have left in the archaeological record of the last ice age. Bednarik is not just an iconoclast tearing down the structures of a moribund discipline as he offers an alternative, scientific way forward to those archaeologists who share his concerns about the way the discipline has been marooned in a number of dead ends created and aggressively defended by the establishment. In the preface to the second edition of 'Rock Art Science'  he notes that the first edition 'has been criticised by some archaeologists as being overly critical of their discipline. In this edition I have made an attempt to limit criticism to what is absolutely necessary to convey the gravity of issues......This is hoped to lead to academic introspection, not antagonism, and to a better dialogue between archaeologists and rock art scientists'.
Sadly the archaeological establishment has largely ignored his writings presumably hoping that a lack of 'oxygen' will see them fade into obscurity. Instead he has published this concise and ground breaking account of the archaeological establishment's ongoing inability to scientifically assess the single most important body of data relating to the evolution of our species - the rock 'art' of the last ice age. Of the hundreds of books and many thousands of papers devoted to this subject none has surveyed the surviving pleistocene 'art' of other continents beside Europe. This Eurocentric bias has distorted our knowledge of the origins of symbolism and the cognitive evolution of our species. The scale of this distortion is alarming as the European corpus provides only a sliver of the available data and the much larger inventory of Australian pleistocene 'art' has been almost completely ignored as has that of the other continents. Bednarik has rectified these omissions in the first overview of the subject to analyse the claims for a pleistocene origin of the rock 'art' of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe. He discusses the enormous problems involved in the scientific determination of the age of rock 'art' in a way accessible to the general public as well as professionals in the field. Furthermore he delivers a devastating refutation of the African Eve/Replacement theories which are still held and ruthlessly defended by the gate keepers of the archaeological and anthropological establishments. These Eurocentric fantasies have dominated the disciplines involved for decades even though their origins in a hoax have been known for some time. It is a classic case of the old trope about discredited theories only being replaced after the demise of their most intransigent proponents.
'Paleoart Of the Ice Age' is the most valuable addition to the epistemology of rock 'art' studies yet published and deserves the widest possible readership and will undoubtedly become a classic in the field. Tony Convey
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REFERENCES 'Rock Art Science - the Scientific Study Of Paleoart' Robert G, Bednarik Aryan Books International Delhi 2007 'Creating the Human Psst' Robert G. Bednarik Archaeopress Oxford 2013 'Paleoart Of the Ice Age' Robert G. Bednarik Editions Univeritaires Europeennes 2017