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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Problems of Interpretation of Non-Verbal Sources on the Ethnohistory of North Africa and Sahara (Part One)
Author:Poplinkskij, Jurij K.
Periodical:St. Petersburg Journal of African Studies
Geographic terms:Maghreb
Subjects:rock art
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Abstract:Adequate and exhaustive use of iconographic evidence as a historical source is still hampered by insufficient elaboration of a general theory of visual activities, and many unresolved specific problems. This is borne out by an examination of some of the theoretical, methodological and practical problems involved in using visual sources on the history of North Africa and the Sahara. Amongst the issues the author discusses are the syntax of a visual language system; the laws and dynamics of visual perception; the perception and rendition of colour and shape; the function of a system of sign-symbolic means; the correlation between pictorial activity and man's level of knowledge about the world; spatial representation; the reflection of spatiotemporal notions in graphic activity; the sacrality of graphic activities; elementary iconic signs; the informativity of ornament; the correlation between a visual language and local variants or idiolects. Resolving most of the problems discussed requires special research. Most importantly, each particular group of sources needs to be systematized and described, with the aim of elaborating 'dictionaries' of nonverbal iconographic sources corresponding to the three most important art traditions for the North African-Saharan region, Egyptian, Aegean, and Saharan. The article was first published in Russian in 1984. Bibliogr.