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Emmanuelle Honoré

Free University of Brussels - (FIAS Program)
Prehistoric Worldviews: An archaeology of relational ontologies in North African rock art
01 September 2021 -
30 June 2022

Emmanuelle Honoré is an early-career researcher in Archaeology with a specific interest for Prehistory, and especially the transition from hunting-gathering ways of life to pastoralist ways of life in Africa. Her research has focused on the social aspects of such transition. She has had several postdoctoral positions at the University of Cambridge (Newton International Fellowship, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship) and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (IF@ULB COFUND Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship). She has been the Evans-Pritchard Lecturer 2018 at the University of Oxford and a Visiting Fellow at the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the University of East Anglia, UK. Her recent research projects focus on the rock art of North-Eastern Africa.

In September 2021, she joined the Paris IAS as part of the French Institutes for Advanced Study fellowship program - FIAS - co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 945408. Her fellowship also benefits from the support of the RFIEA+ LABEX, with a national funding (Grant ANR-11-LABX-0027-01). 

Research interests

Archaeology, Prehistory, Social Anthropology, Rock art, Pastoralism, Ontologies

Prehistoric Worldviews: An archaeology of relational ontologies in North African rock art

Rock art in North Eastern Africa testify to the flourishing cultural development of Late Prehistoric communities during the last favourable interval in North Africa, before the desertification process that affected the Sahara around 3500 BC. This interval (9000-3500 BC) was the moment for major transformations in the long-term history of Africa, with the adoption of pastoralism that made North African populations shift from a hunter-gatherer to a semi-nomadic way-of-life, and sometimes to a mix of the two. Along with other archaeological data, the rock art record provides evidence of a complete change of people’s relation with the world at the onset of pastoralism in Africa.

Transcending disciplinary boundaries, this project makes use of concepts and methods imported from the social anthropology to enter past ontologies. Ontologies can be defined as views of how the world is constituted and organized: they are a theory of being and becoming. An “ontological revolution” at the transition to the Neolithic is evidenced by profound mutations in the practice of rock art. This project follows the “ontological turn” that has had a massive impact in the field of Anthropology since the early ‘90s, but with a much deeper time perspective.


Key publications

Honoré, Emmanuelle, “An ontological approach to Saharan rock art” in Oscar Moro Abadía and M. Porr eds., Ontologies of Rock Art: Images, Relational Approaches, and Indigenous Knowledges, Routledge, 2021, p. 283-301.

Honoré, Emmanuelle, “Did prehistoric people consider themselves as equals or unequals? A testimony from the last hunter-gatherers of the Eastern Sahara” in Luc Moreau ed, Social inequality before farming? Multidisciplinary approaches to the study of social organization in prehistoric and ethnographic hunter-gatherer-fisher societies, McDonald Institute Conversations, 2020, p. 293-302.

Honoré, Emmanuelle, “The archaeology of sharing immaterial things: social gatherings and the making of collective identities of the Eastern Saharan last hunter-gatherer groups” in David Friesem and Noa Lavi eds, Towards a Broader View of Hunter Gatherer Sharing, Cambridge, McDonald Institute Monographs, 2019, p. 113-122.

14 Oct 2022 10:00 -
14 Oct 2022 15:30,
Paris :
(R)évolution néolithique, révolution sociale ? Le changement social dans le Néolithique de la Gezira Centrale, Soudan

North Africa, Middle East