"In Neolithic Western Europe, monumental tombs were frequently decorated with engraved and painted art. Archaeologists have rarely asked why there is such an association between art and death. How was art used to create spaces appropriate for the performance of deathways? Since the 1960s research on this art has stagnated both theoretically and methodologically, leaving this important question unanswered and unanswerable.
The ADINE project proposes a comprehensive study of how art was created and used in the Neolithic tombs of Sardinia, which are by far the largest group of decorated tombs in Europe but also the least studied. The project has three research objectives. The first is to document unpublished decorated tombs. We will use both standard techniques and several innovative photographic techniques for revealing poorly visible art and analysing the technique and sequence of the art’s manufacture; we will also analyse the spatial organisation of art inside tombs and the regional distribution of decorated tombs using statistics and GIS. The second objective is to place Sardinian art into its larger historical context within the major tomb art traditions of Neolithic Western Europe. These two goals are aimed at answering the research question posed above. The third objective is to build up a new generation “total recording” methodology for rock art sites by testing and developing together a suite of complementary methods (the photographic techniques noted above, portable digital microscopy, and non-destructive, portable XRF spectroscopy to identify painted areas and pigments).
The project, hosted at Cambridge University, includes a strong training programme for the coordinator, and will help maintain Europe’s pre-eminence in rock art research and theoretical archaeology. Its impact may extend beyond academia to the large worldwide public interested in rock art and to organisations responsible for cultural heritage development and management of rock art sites."
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