The University of Extremadura, the Fundación Extremeña de la Cultura, the Institute of Prehistoric Studies (ACINEP) and the Patrimonio&ARTE and CUPARQ (Culture, Heritage and Archaeology) research groups are pleased to invite researchers, specialists, lecturers, curators, managers, cultural heritage professionals and all those interested to the XIX International Conference of the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO), which takes place from 31 August to 4 September 2015 in the city of Cáceres (Extremadura, Spain).
Cáceres is a charming historic-artistic city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the autonomous community of Extremadura. The surroundings, on the Iberian Peninsula’s west, are a fortunate part of southwestern Europe where paintings and engravings of the main artistic cycles of the area’s prehistory and protohistory, from the Palaeolithic to the Iron age, have been preserved. An abundance of shelters with schematic paintings in a series of exceptionally well-preserved natural spaces are of particular interest. In this setting, with hospitality characteristic of our country's people, we shall provide the appropriate atmosphere to encourage the study and reflection on some truly universal symbolic creations existing through the ages and in virtually every corner of the planet.
Anthropologist and philosopher, Ernst Cassirer, wrote at the beginning of the past century that man is, by nature, a creator of symbols, an authentic, "symbolic animal", in any place, time and activity that develops; he came to say, even, that the specificity of the human being lies in their ability to avail themselves of the symbolic function. Through symbolism, understood as the interrelationship or tissue that make up religion, myth, art, science and language, man is able to react to external stimuli, and translate his particular conception of reality. Rock art, an authentic symbolic corpus of very different societies and forms of expression, constitutes a unique legacy that approaches, due to its graphic dimension, the particular interpretation that men and women of all cultures and continents carried out in their social, natural, and transcendent universe.
This anthropological conception evinces rock art as a heritage element of the natural environment in which it was created. Only there, in a cave, a rock shelter, on a block of stone, in a valley or gorge, or on a mountain, engravings and paintings reach their raison d ' être and full significance. With those “marks” on the landscape, which represent an effective appropriation of the selfsame and of its main resources, this is humanized and acquires a cultural dimension to different economic strategies. Therefore, in rock art, the study of its support, enclosures or natural environment is as important as its graphic expression. This argument has served basis to propose the main theme of IFRAO Conference 2015:
"Symbols in the landscape: rock art and its context".
We invite all those interested to join us in fostering an understanding of rock art around the world and its preservation, in disseminating the cave creations of their countries and regions as symbolic and cultural expressions, to show us their research procedures and techniques and to reflect on the many ways in which these creations are inserted or interrelate with various fields of existence.
In accordance with agendas established at previous international IFRAO meetings, the conference will have four full days for disclosing papers, presentations or posters, the central day, Wednesday, when all attendees go on guided tours to the main enclaves with rock art in Extremadura. Further cultural activities at the University of Extremadura and in the city of Cáceres are planned during the conference. This fascinating cultural offering is an opportunity to explore the main sets of rock art of the Iberian Peninsula through organized tours before and after the conference.
The official languages of the conference will be English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.
The deadline for submission of session proposals for the XIX International Rock Art Conference of IFRAO (Cáceres 2015) is: 31st October 2014.
The content of the sessions will follow the usual themes of IFRAO conferences: rock art in different continents, countries, and regions of the world; theory and methodology in studies of rock art; iconography and symbolism in rock art; aesthetics and rock art; representation of rock art techniques; rock art and anthropology; the natural and archaeological context of the rock art; conservation and management of the rock art; techniques of dating and chemical analysis of rock art.
José Julio García Arranz
Hipólito Collado Giraldo
Co-organizers of the XIX IFRAO Conference (Cáceres 2015)