||The Foundation-Stones of Culture
This text will pursue the question, what initially lead humankind to decorate walls of rock with scratched symbols.
At the beginning of the twentieth century extensive and coloured paintings, which had been placed there thousands of years ago, were re-discovered in the caves of Altamira, Lascaux and other European sites. Long before these meanwhile famous and frequently cited murals were created, early cultures had cultivated the knowledge and talent of decorating bones and stone with scratched symbols. Even palaeolithic men are supposed to have used an engraved stone slab not primarily as a tool but as a cult-object in ceremonial burials. Prehistorics also link the oldest reliable evidence of the artistic treatment of objects to the ritual attitudes of humanity towards death. Psychohistorics on the other hand, as the science of patterns in historical motives, emphasises mainly prenatal and birth-related experiences, as Lloyd deMause specifies in his Grundlagen der Psychohistorie, when e.g. he explains that bones from prehistoric sites, furnished with notches and female symbols served as calendars. In his opinion these counting-out helps did not serve as a lunar calendar, like some scientists assume, but have been a help for the calculation of the menstruation.
Stylistics of early rock-scratchings
Some of the first distinct elements found in rock scratchings are small cavities, the so-called cups, or grooves. They are circular polished cavities with a depth of usually 2-3 cm and a diameter of 4-6 cm. They are arranged in rows, parallel columns, circles or randomly spread over the rock surface. These cups are often interpreted as sacrificial bowls. Some of these cavities however, are to be found in such slanted walls, that they could not have served as a receptacle. Further elementary symbol are grooves, long straight lines that do not appear just sporadically but also as seemingly arbitrarily overlapping grid patterns. These structures are not always looked at as an expression of conscious design, they are sometimes dismissed as "playful scribblings". Moreover vulva-symbols can be found, consisting of purposely constructed lines or geometric symbols containing dots, circles, squares, waved or zigzag lines.
These geometric symbols are a leit-motif throughout the art of rock-drawing. They can be found at the oldest dated sites as well as in all later eras. From these symbols I would like to show to what extent a universal motif can be found in the history of humanity, a motif that reflects the "necessity", that firstly initiated the storage of information via rock-scratchings, i.e. in a manner relatively independent from speech or gestures. In my opinion the circle-, maze-, spiral- and ray-designs here, that can be found world-wide on boulders, do not generally symbolise the celestial orbit of the sun or other physical phenomena. Equally the interpretation of many elementary symbols (wave, circle, zigzag lines) as decorative frills to early cult-expressions needs to be examined, as the following will show. Whereas we have to keep in mind, that neither archaeology, nor any other scientific department can make exact statements towards the age of the development of rock scratchings. The dates appearing in literature are very rarely specified by a method of analysis beyond all doubt. They are often just assumptions by the authors, differing strongly from one another. But from overlie and weathering we can draw a comparatively safe conclusion towards the relative age. Proceeding from these assumptions we can conclude, that in the beginning a similar graphic development in all the different cultural groups of the world was made, concerning the creation of dot- and dash-symbols as well as the composition of complex pictures.
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