Wayward Shamans: The Prehistory of an Idea

Silvia Tomášková

Membership Lecture, The New Mexico History Museum Auditorium

Thursday, February 20, 2014, 6:30–7:30 pm, Free for SAR members • $10 for nonmembers

Copper carving depicting a Sámi shaman with his magic drum.Copper carving depicting a Sámi shaman with his magic drum.By O. H. von Lode [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.Copper carving depicting a Sámi shaman with his magic drum.By O. H. von Lode [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Anthropologist Silvia Tomášková examines the popular idea that humanity’s earliest expressions of art, religion, and creativity formed around the figure of a proto-priest known as a shaman. She traces this classic category in anthropology back to its emergence in Siberia, from its use by German natural historians in the eighteenth century, and later accounts by exiled Russian revolutionaries to the introduction of shamanism into archaeological theory, where the idea of the male sorcerer emerged as the key agent of prehistoric art. Tomášková also follows recent efforts to provide a universal shamanic explanation for rock art via South Africa and neurobiology, and argues that the modern concept of the shaman glosses over historical evidence for its diverse and complex history.

Sponsored by Santa Fe Audio Visual

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