Friday, January 27, 2012
THE NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL MODEL AND HALLUCINOGENS:
Castle Gardens, Wyoming. Photo Peter Faris, 1992.There is a modern theory about interpreting rock art known as the Neuropsychological Model. At this point I must confess that I do not care much for the Neuropsychological Model. It basically states that rock art is created by shaman to record the visions they saw after taking hallucinogenic drugs or otherwise inducing a trance. Now some rock, art in some places, might actually fit that description, but proponents of this theory try to apply it to all rock art, and that just doesn’t work.
It has been proposed, for example, that some of the flower blossom petroglyphs in the American Southwest portray the hallucinogenic datura blossom. If we have believable documentation about use of datura to induce trances or visions in the southwest then this might make sense. One example of a petroglyph that I know is intended to illustrate a hallucinogen is the example here which can be found on a cliff at Castle Gardens, Wyoming, among the shield petroglyphs that this locale is so famous for.
Readers who would like to learn more about the Neuropsychological Model should read any of David Lewis-Williams books of the last 3 or 4 years. Then, to read an eloquent refutation of it I will direct you to the book by Paul G. Bahn listed below.Bahn, Paul G.
2010 Prehistoric Rock Art: Problems and Polemics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.