Engraved symbols. Long gone. Deep into our heart…

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Photo by Bisesh Gurung from Pexels

Engraved stone artifacts are important clues to the history of human culture and cognition. Incisions on the cortex (soft outer layer) of flint or chert flakes are known from Middle and Lower Paleolithic sites across Europe and the Middle East. However, it can be difficult to determine the action that created an incision: was it an accidental scrape or purposeful engraving? To address this issue, Majkic and colleagues created an interpretive framework that allows researchers to classify the structure and patterns of engraved cortexes and cross-check these attributes with a list of possible causal actions.

They tested this methodology with an engraved flake from the cave site of Kiik-Koba in Crimea. The many stone artifacts at the site are associated with Neanderthal remains and date to around 35,000 years ago. Following microscopic examination of the grooved lines on the flint cortex, the researchers concluded that the incisions represent deliberate engravings that would have required fine motor skills and attention to detail. These engravings appear to have been made with symbolic or communicative intent.

If this interpretation is correct, this engraved flake would join a growing list of signs that Neanderthals engaged in symbolic activities, along with evidence of intentional burial, personal ornaments, and other decorated objects. This has implications for the question of when and how many times this sort of cultural expression has evolved among hominin populations. The researchers hope to hone their framework further for use with artifacts of varying ages and cultural contexts. (1)

Old symbols.

But not dead ones.

Lingering still inside us.

Engraved into our very souls.

No need for any analysis or interpretation. Just look within yourself. Every part of you is governed by primate instincts. Every thought you have stems from an otherworldly need of belonging. Belonging to something bigger than you. Something shared with all other humans and with the universe itself.

Long before you were born…

You used to be alive.

Part of everything.

Enclosing everything…

Try to remember.

You were primitive back then.

Not yet cursed with knowledge…

A raw untamed river. Carving its way through the stone…

Art. Caves. Sound. From silence…

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Photo by Isabelle Taylor from Pexels

When and where did humans develop language? To find out, look deep inside caves, suggests an MIT professor.

More precisely, some specific features of cave art may provide clues about how our symbolic, multifaceted language capabilities evolved, according to a paper co-authored by MIT linguist Shigeru Miyagawa.

A key to this idea is that cave art is often located in acoustic “hot spots,” where sound echoes strongly, as some scholars have observed. Those drawings are located in deeper, harder-to-access parts of caves, indicating that acoustics was a principal reason for the placement of drawings within caves. The drawings, in turn, may represent the sounds that early humans generated in those spots.

In the new paper, this convergence of sound and drawing is what the authors call a “cross-modality information transfer,” a convergence of auditory information and visual art that, the authors write, “allowed early humans to enhance their ability to convey symbolic thinking.” The combination of sounds and images is one of the things that characterizes human language today, along with its symbolic aspect and its ability to generate infinite new sentences.

Cave artists were thus not just drawing impressions of the outdoors at their leisure. Rather, they may have been engaged in a process of communication. “I think it’s very clear that these artists were talking to one another,” Miyagawa says. “It’s a communal effort”. (1)

Sound whirling in a fierce storm.

Snow falling on the rough ground.

Deep inside a cave, a human lies.

Being sick, ready to die.

Inside that cave, he sees the drawing he drew when he was young.

When the sound of his voice echoed underneath the Earth.

Fearing and being excited for the future.

Now he is silent. But the drawings are still there.

For some people to view, thousands of years from now.

A message no one – besides this man – will ever understand.

A message seemingly lost in the haze of aeons.

Until someone realizes, that this lack of message is the message itself…

Hunting. Drawing. Being in oblivion. Doing art.

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Visual imagery used in drawing regulates arm movements in manner similar to how hunters visualize the arc of a spear. Neanderthals had large brains and made complex tools but never demonstrated the ability to draw recognizable images, unlike early modern humans who created vivid renderings of animals and other figures on rocks and cave walls. That artistic gap may be due to differences in the way they hunted, suggests a University of California, Davis, expert on predator-prey relations and their impacts on the evolution of behavior.

Neanderthals used thrusting spears to bring down tamer prey in Eurasia, while Homo sapiens, or modern humans, spent hundreds of thousands of years spear-hunting wary and dangerous game on the open grasslands of Africa.

Richard Coss, a professor emeritus of psychology, says the hand-eye coordination involved in both hunting with throwing spears and drawing representational art could be one factor explaining why modern humans became smarter than Neanderthals. (1)

We used to be alive.

With no time to make art.

We now live void lives.

And yet, we have painting.

We find no meaning anywhere.

And yet, we are artistic.

A dead civilization.

Leaving behind paintings; celebrating a life we have lost.

We used to be Neanderthals, brute and raw. Killing by contact, not from a distance. So, they (we) did not develop art back then. Or did they? Neanderthals lived every day without wanting to leave something behind. They just lived. And this was their heritage to the world. Their signature on the fabric of existence of the universe.

Their art was their own being.

Their own agony. Their own sorrow. Their own life.

A fascinating life, lived day after day in silence.

An incredible life lost in oblivion.

Without ever being told to anyone.

An incredible story lost in time.

A work of art…

Looking at the eyes of a dying animal…

Alternative

What you do defines what you… do.

And what we do is what we define.

Simple tautologies; often ignored.

Throw the spear away.

Kill animals.

Learn how to do art.

Do art. Name everything art.

Forget how to throw spears…

Die… There is no art now. Just life…

Viking warriors… Women warriors…

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Viking warriors have a historical reputation as tough guys, with an emphasis on testosterone. But scientists about a year ago said that DNA had unveiled a Viking warrior woman who was previously found in a roughly 1,000-year-old grave in Sweden. Until then, many researchers assumed that “she” was a “he” buried with a set of weapons and related paraphernalia worthy of a high-ranking military officer.

If the woman was in fact a warrior, a team led by archaeologist Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson of Uppsala University in Sweden has identified the first female Viking to have participated in what was long considered a male pursuit. (1)

People may be startled to see a woman as a Viking warrior.

Let alone seeing her as a leading warrior in an important battle.

And yet, the most important battle of all is with our self.

A battle fought every day, with grim odds of winning it.

Because our self is relentless and powerful.

Knowing all our secrets and weapons of war.

Only a woman can give this battle. Only a woman can be emotional enough to get into the battle and strong enough to finish it without losing herself. Because women are creators. Creators of life, able to withstand pain of levels impossible for someone who focuses on the self. Small gods, living among us but without ever seeking acknowledgement.

Look closely at the battle field. No, not there were men slaughter each other and strong cries of pain tear through the air. Look further away. Back in the homes of these brave men. There is a woman waiting Ulysses. And a fierce battle raging. A silent battle.

Look into her eye.

And you will see Zeus fighting Cronus under the shadows of Ouranos…

Storytelling. An art long gone…

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“Knowing how to tell a clear and coherent story is an important skill for helping young children to develop strong reading skills, which, in turn, can help them to be successful across a number of different subjects in school,” said FPG advanced research scientist Nicole Gardner-Neblett. “Prior research suggests that historical and cultural factors foster strong storytelling skills among African American children, which has implications for their development as readers”.

Two years ago, Gardner-Neblett’s own research was the first to demonstrate the connection between African American preschoolers’ storytelling abilities and their early reading skills in kindergarten. That study found a link between storytelling and reading only for the African American children, from households across income levels, but not for any other demographic group. (1)

We have lost the art of storytelling.

Now we just believe the “Facts”.

It is the most “primitive” ones who will ultimately save our heritage as human beings. Soon enough, when the forest is empty, when the river stays silent, we will remember. That there is magic in the world. And that this magic only exists if you believe in it. The river does not make any sound. You are the one making the tree leaves thawing. By just sitting down and closing your eyes. Start analyzing them and you will see that the sound is gone. We are the vessel which receives the cosmos and gives it shapes and sounds.

Too much listening has made us deaf.

Too much seeing has made us blind.

We must into the forest again.

And find a clearing.

No, not in the forest.

In our heart.

Shhhh…