Institute of Archaeology

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The Origin of Monsters

19 December 2013

The Origins of Monsters

A new volume by David Wengrow, based on the Rostovtzeff Lectures he delivered at New York University, is now available.

It has often been claimed that "monsters" - supernatural creatures with bodies composed from multiple species - play a significant part in the thought and imagery of all people from all times. David's new volume The Origins of Monsters: Image and Cognition in the First Age of Mechanical Reproduction advances an alternative view.

Composite figurations are intriguingly rare and isolated in the art of the prehistoric era. Instead it was with the rise of cities, elites, and cosmopolitan trade networks that "monsters" became widespread features of visual production in the ancient world. Showing how these fantastic images originated and how they were transmitted, David identifies patterns in the records of human image-making and embarks on a search for connections between mind and culture.

The book results from the presentations given by David for the 2nd Annual M.I. Rostovtzeff Lecture Series hosted by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU in April 2011 and is published by Princeton University Press.