Emmanuelle Honore

Free University of Brussels
Paris IAS
10 months

Research interests: Archaeology, Prehistory, Social Anthropology, Rock art, Pastoralism, Ontologies

Research Project

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.


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