Art as information: Explaining upper palaeolithic art in western Europe

C Michael Barton, G. A. Clark, Allison E. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Proceeding from the information exchange theory of style, we argue that the changing temporal and spatial distributions of mobile and parietal art in Paleolithic Europe are related aspects of a single evolutionary process: alternating selective pressures differentially favoring the expression of assertive and emblemic style over the 30–7 kyr BP interval. These pressures result from demographic and social change across the European subcontinent in the late Pleistocene and early Holocene. We develop a model of cultural selection for symbolic behavior manifest as art that proceeds from and parallels natural selection in neo‐Darwinian evolutionary theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-207
Number of pages23
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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