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For a medical definition please see Entoptic phenomenon

In archaeology, the term entoptic phenomena relates to visual experiences derived from within the eye or brain (as opposed to externally, as in normal vision). In this respect they differ slightly from the medical definition, which defines entoptic phenomena as only applying to sources within the eye, not the brain. To avoid this confusion, the term subjective visual phenomena is sometimes used.

There has been a great deal of work trying to find evidence of motifs and compositions derived from entoptic phenomena in prehistoric art, especially rock art and megalithic art. The justification of this research is that entoptic phenomena normally occur during states of altered consciousness, the practice of which may impact our views of ancient religious and social practice.

See also


  • Dronfield, J. 1995. “Subjective Visions and the Source of Irish Megalithic Art.” in Antiquity 69, pp539-549
  • Lewis-Williams, D. and Pearce, D. 2005. Inside the Neolithic Mind. London: Thames and Hudson


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