Badania archeologiczne a obrazowanie wizualne przeszłości

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One can say that our times are dominated by visual communication. Usually all day long we have been faced by various pictures, visual forms and symbols. According to the subject of the book 'Archaeology-Culture-Ideologies' I found it interesting to pay attention to the problem of visual representation, or better say visual symbols in nowadays communication and culture, their meaning and importance. From this point of view I would like to show the role of archaeologists who discover, interpret or even create some of them. The subject is not new of course, but the most often it is taken into consideration by the scholars who practice in social anthropology or philosophy and quite rarely it appear in studies of archaeologies, especially in Polish tradition. In my opinion the subject concerning visual symbols communication and archaeology arise several important questions that are also valid for the theme of book 'Archaeology-Culture-Ideologies'. The first is socio-cultural role of our discipline, next the danger of political and propaganda misuse of the results of archaeological research and then also commercialisation of the archaeological activities. The problem of visualisation and visual-communication can be the matter of various studies. In my paper from the beginning I would like to present the general view concerning visual symbols and figural motifs and the main ideas and approaches to study them from different humanistic perspectives. Then in my presentation I am going to discuss the question why in our culture the visual symbols and representations became so popular – compare to other ways of human expression, for example verbal symbol communication. I would like to see the problem in historical perspective as well. There are a lot of evidences, which support the statement about the power of visual symbols in history. In ancient times for example Horace in 'Ars Poetica' suggested that human mind usually is much more impressed by eyes than by ears. In my opinion that is quite often in human culture that visual impression is before mental one. Visual representations and symbols are very powerful, they can show and communicate various phenomena, they act immediately and quite often in easily way they can associate. So for archaeological research it could be very important to make some studies concerning the ancient symbols and general iconography and also it would be grateful to make some attempts for the study what kind of potential meaning could have visual symbols. In my paper I can only make some general statement about it. But the most important for the topic is reflection on prehistoric and ancient visual symbols and representation and their presence in contemporary culture. So after some general statements concerning the visual symbols examined from various perspectives finally I would like to point out with support of some examples how ancient and prehistoric visual symbols and images are still used and captured by contemporary culture and what is or should be the role of archaeologists activity concerning this matter.




visual representation, archaeological method and theory


Archeologia – Kultura – Ideologie, eds. B. Gediga, W. Piotrowski, Biskupin-Wrocław: Polska Akademia Nauk, Oddział we Wrocławiu, Muzeum Archeologiczne w Biskupinie, IAiE PAN, 2004, s. 355.




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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego