Review: The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis-Williams

The Mind in the CaveThe Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art [2002] – ★★★

A chaotic and repetitive account on cave art and its origin, which is also not as insightful as one would have hoped, focusing primarily on shamanism and altered states of consciousness.

The Mind in the Cave is by David Lewis-Williams, a South African archaeologist known for his research into South African rock art, and, in his book, he describes the most breath-taking cave art from the Upper Palaeolithic Period (examples found in the Cave of the Trois-Frères, France and in the Altamira Cave, Spain), tracing the way people thought about cave art through the ages and trying to theorise on the question why Upper Palaeolithic people made such art and what it represented for them. Although the book is engaging, with interesting case studies and beautiful illustrations, it is also problematic and only sporadically informative on the question of consciousness itself – its origin and how this relates to the first known cave art. Continue reading “Review: The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis-Williams”