So it would be of little surprise to mention my predilection towards the surviving Neolithic masterworks that are known across the globe. They’re hauntingly perfect in their elegance. I’ve been enchanted with reading The First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World’s Oldest Symbols by Genevieve von Petzinger. This title has become something of a fixation for yours truly since it was recently gifted to me over the Solstice gatherings by a sweet relative. Kristen, I love it, thank you so much.
So I’ve been feeling duly inspired with all the details, analyses, and over-due anthropological review that Von Petzinger shares. This work is written well for both those of an anthropological background and for those who are just initially engaging with such subjects. Works like this tend to inspire me towards artistic action. With the intention to experiment with process/material I was looking for a scholastically-backed method of application for positive and negative hand prints and I found the following essay by Paula Kuitenbrouwer called Prehistoric Hands Invite and Confirm Communication with the Dead.
Kuitenbrouwer offers such a humane and empathetic extension to these artistic ancestors we’re likely to never know. Providing hypothetical insights on the hows and whys these deep old ones sojourned deep into the tissues of the earth herself. Personally, I would also add that nearly any right of passage, (no pun intended for squeezing that in (intended– cave passages can be extremely narrow)) might be grounds for neanderthalensis, heidelbergensis and sapiens to utilize these sacred locations.
The short from the long here is that in my mulling on these earliest (surviving) marks made upon the world around them, in time it was that group-made culture that came to, in a way, ‘domesticate’ people of the world. Memetics, culture, likely altered burgeoning humanity rewiring it somewhat slowly. As an additional selecting pressure as to who survived and passed on their genes and memes more surely than simple natural selection might offer on its own. Those who followed their tribe, their band, those that engaged in the ancient magics, these were active participants of these group-made ways. Conversely, those of that culture were so much more likely to have supported them, creating a kind of feedback loop of resilience towards overall group survival, feeding back into the social ties that bind.
I continue to wonder where impulse or preference became habit, habit became tradition, and in time tradition lent itself to the nebulous yet potent abstract of hominid culture.