- Nov 2023
“This is the science that concerns itself with plants in their local association in the various climates. This science, as vast as its object, paints with a broad brush the immense space occupied by plants, from the regions of perpetual snows to the bottom of the ocean, and into the very interior of the earth, where there subsist in obscure caves some cryptogams that are as little known as the insects feeding upon them.”
—Alexander von Humboldt, 1807 “Essay on the Geography of Plants”
Cave paintings/art were known of in Humboldt's time certainly if he's using them to analogize.
- Jan 2023
Bacon, Bennett, Azadeh Khatiri, James Palmer, Tony Freeth, Paul Pettitt, and Robert Kentridge. “An Upper Palaeolithic Proto-Writing System and Phenological Calendar.” Cambridge Archaeological Journal, January 5, 2023, 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959774322000415.
There may be questions as to whether or not this represents written language, but, if true, this certainly represents one of the oldest examples of annotation in human history!
We believe that we have demonstrated the use of abstract marks to convey meaning about the behaviour of the animals with which they are associated, on European Upper Palaeolithic material culture spanning the period from ~37,000 to ~13,000 bp. In our reading, the animals integral to our analytical modules do not depict a specific individual animal, but all animals of that species, at least as experienced by the images’ creators. This synthesis of image, mathematical syntax (the ordinal/linear sequences) and signs functioning as words formed an efficient means of recording and communicating information that has at its heart the core intellectual achievement of abstraction.
We believe that the numeric notational marks associated with the animals constituted a calendar, and given that it references natural behaviour in terms of seasons relative to a fixed point in time, we may refer to it as a phenological calendar, with a meteorological basis.
These may occur on rock walls, but were commonly engraved onto robust bones since at least the beginning of the European Upper Palaeolithic and African Late Stone Age, where it is obvious they served as artificial memory systems (AMS) or external memory systems (EMS) to coin the terms used in Palaeolithic archaeology and cognitive science respectively, exosomatic devices in which number sense is clearly evident (for definitions see d’Errico Reference d'Errico1989; Reference d'Errico1995a,Reference d'Erricob; d'Errico & Cacho Reference d'Errico and Cacho1994; d'Errico et al. Reference d'Errico, Doyon and Colage2017; Hayden Reference Hayden2021).
Abstract marks have appeared on rock walls and engraved into robust bones as artificial memory systems (AMS) and external memory systems (EMS).
We also demonstrate that the <Y> sign, one of the most frequently occurring signs in Palaeolithic non-figurative art, has the meaning <To Give Birth>. The position of the <Y> within a sequence of marks denotes month of parturition, an ordinal representation of number in contrast to the cardinal representation used in tallies.
parturition<br /> the action of giving birth to young
<Y> potentially one of the first written "words"
Using a database of images spanning the European Upper Palaeolithic, we suggest how three of the most frequently occurring signs—the line <|>, the dot <•>, and the <Y>—functioned as units of communication.
- indigenous knowledge
- proto-writing systems
- material culture
- absract marks on bones
- writing as memory
- cave art
- cultural anthropology
- non-figurative art
- upper palaeolithic
- human evolution
- artificial memory systems
- meteorological calendars
- data visualizations
- external memory systems
- phenological calendars
- archaeology of knowledge
- Apr 2021
Figurative cave art is the fief of Homo sapiens, going by present evidence (there is no evidence of figurative Neanderthal art). The earliest-known painting is of a warty pig; it was found just this year in a very inaccessible cavesite in Indonesia and is about 45,500 years old.
Dating of the oldest cave art to about 45,500 years ago.
- Feb 2017
Part V. Connexion of Place
This section is jumping out at me this time around. Keep it mind later on when we turn to discuss the elements of the rhetorical situation. Campbell opens up for discussing the material dimensions of rhetoric: not simply rhetoric as the discursive activity of humans, but as an emergent aspect of human and nonhuman relations. Also, recall here Rickert on the role of the caves themselves in the making of cave art.