Fragments of the Hunt. Persistence Hunting, Tracking and Prehistoric Art

Mikko Ijäs

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


Two million years ago, our ancestors were running down antelope on the African savanna. Instead of relying on complex weaponry, they relied on endurance and they chased their prey until it died. This process often derailed the hunters’ consciousness into transformation hallucinations. Studying the last hunter-gatherers of the Kalahari Ijäs was able to establish a connection between the hallucinations, trance ceremonies, and the imagery depicted in rock art. Ijäs claims that some of the earliest examples of visual depictions could be explained through the experiences of the persistence hunters. Ijäs has titled the visible evidence as the ‘fragments of the hunt´, which are not just depictions of hunting, but allegories, such as adoration of the animal’s grace, transformation imagery, depictions of tracks, and images of running people. In this multidisciplinary thesis Ijäs covers several fields of inquiry including psychology, archaeology, art history, ethnography and paleoanthropology.
Translated title of the contributionFragments of the Hunt. Persistence Hunting, Tracking and Prehistoric Art
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Varto, Juha, Supervising Professor
  • Määttänen, Pentti, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-7306-4
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-3730-1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • prehistoric art
  • Africa
  • rock art

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