Masks Unmasked

By Bernie Bell

I signed up to have the UHI Archaeology Dept blog sent to me, and the most recent item by Sigurd Towrie refers to a subject which is of great interest to me – as previously mentioned here……….

With Sigurd’s permission, here is the info. about a forthcoming on-line seminar from a new lecturer at UHI………..

New lecturer considers prehistoric masks in first seminar of institute’s new season


The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute new season of online seminars kicks off on September 3, 2021, with a presentation by our new archaeology lecturer Dr Ben Elliot.

Entitled Masks Unmasked: tracing traditions of mask wearing in the hunter-gatherer communities of Early Prehistoric Europe, Dr Elliot will present a selection of finding from the Masks Unmasked project – which began in October 2019.

The aim of the project was to look at the evidence for mask wearing within hunter-gatherer communities who established themselves across Europe during the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods.

Previous scholars have argued that masks played a role in the very earliest modern human societies to live in Europe, based on depictions of masked individuals within Upper Palaeolithic art, mortuary practices and animal crania that appear to have been modified in ways that allow them to be worn on the head.

However, the ambiguity of the evidence has meant that the significance of masks in early prehistoric societies has been overlooked.

Masks Unmasked reviewed the evidence for masks in relation to the wealth of ethnographic data concerning masks gathered from societies across the world and seeks to develop an understanding of the different roles that masks and masking played in Europe’s hunter-gatherer past.

The seminar, which runs from 4-5pm (BST) on September 3, will focus on the use of clay and amber in the mid Holocene of the Eastern Baltic.

Click here to book a place. The seminar will also be recorded and made available afterwards.

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