Many researchers dealing with prehistoric and historic rock art tend to remain firmly entrenched within their respective comfort zones. Throughout much of the contemporary world, the application and use of rock art is a fundamental part of society; moreover, it relies on the past. Archaeologists are becoming increasingly aware that there is a continuous link between ancient and contemporary indigenous artistic practices; readers will note that many recently published rock art books reflect this merging of chronologies and cultures.
Visual Culture, Heritage and Identity is organised into 11 chapters and sets out to challenge the sometimes-strict divisions between ancient and modern rock art research, suggesting that there are synergies between the two, usually bridged by communal knowledge, mainly through myth, story-telling, and cultural identity (using art as the preferred device).
The editors are to be congratulated on promoting a relatively new concept in rock art research, namely bridging the philosophical gap between ancient and modern art forms, using anthropology and ethnography to legitimise the past and the way it interacts with the present. The publishers, Archaeopress, should also receive praise for producing such a handsome and colourful publication that truly reflects the beauty and rhetoric of modern (rock) art-making.
Review by George Nash
Visual Culture, Heritage and Identity: using rock art to reconnect past and present, Andrzej Rozwadowski and Jamie Hampson (eds) Archaeopress, £30 ISBN 978-1789698466.