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…

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…

Ayahuasca for the many…

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From Brooklyn to Australia, there is a growing demand for ayahuasca, a tribal, hallucinogenic tea said to have both spiritual and curative properties. But, like any globalization fairy tale, the world’s embrace is threatening to suffocate the tradition at its source. The herbal tea, made by combining a rare vine and shrub found in the thick of the Amazon, has become the “it” drug for celebrities like Sting and Lindsay Lohan, who rave about its spiritual properties. But for the Amazonian tribes that have used ayahuasca for 5,000 years to communicate with God on matters ranging from politics to medicine, the trend is dangerous.

“The sacred art of Indians has been transformed into entertainment”, said Moises Pianko, a member of the Ashaninka tribe of northern Brazil.

The ayahuasca tourism industry grows exponentially. An estimated 40 therapeutic retreats around the world now specialize in ayahuasca, according to Carlos Suarez, an independent researcher who writes about economic development and cultural change in the Amazon. Some researchers see the global commercialization of ayahuasca as inevitable, and think the tribes should focus on getting a cut of profits. Some tribes want to get on board, but demand for ayahuasca is surging too fast to keep up.

At the same time, the rush for ayahuasca has tribes questioning the sustainability of their own ceremonies. Because extraction of the plant is largely unregulated, foresters have found that amature ayahuasca brewers wandering the jungle often cut off a piece of the rare vine and leave the rest to rest rot. Finding the once abundant vine in Peru’s Iquitos region, where most centers are located, now takes days. (1)

Spiritual world for sale.

The epitome of western civilization.

Once again the ignorance of the many leads to misconceptions about the knowledge of the few. Shamans used this vine for their spiritual rituals, but that does not mean that whoever drinks it will have the same experience or the same spiritual journey. One needs to be prepared for the higher realms of spirit and soul – what difference would it make to drink a tea like this if your “god” is money and sex?

Prepare yourself to enter the cave.

Yes, you will see things inside.

But only what you take with you…