Storytelling with pictures did hardly occur in image-making before 5,000 BCE. Art historians and archeologists have been interested in the realism of the cave paintings in southern Europe, seen as a starting point for the development of later art. However, the earliest emergence of picture stories has been neglected. These appear in full-fledged form in Mesopotamia and Egypt during the third millennium BCE.
But the first steps of showing and combining individual images in order to display narrative scenes arise as early as around 5,000 BCE at different places in Europe. Clear examples can be found in northern Scandinavia, where rock carvings depict people, animals, and various activities in image sequences.
The ability to portray life experiences with pictorial storytelling enlarged human communication. What made this innovation possible? In this project, we will examine its emergence as well as its socio-cultural relevance.
More specifically, we will examine some of the earliest picture stories in northern Scandinavia, with a comparative perspective on equivalents in Portugal and Spain. Approaches from cognitive science, narratology, and semiotics will be applied to archaeological material. Based on these objectives, we have established an interdisciplinary research group from three universities/research institutes (Kalmar, Lund, and Tromsø), having distinct, but mutually enriching research profiles.