Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

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Ishtar
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Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Ishtar » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:55 am

I leave the jokes about heads in the sand and such like to Min, whose sense of comic timing has always way surpassed mine.

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Researchers say a cache of ostrich eggshells engraved with geometric designs demonstrates the existence of a symbolic communication system around 60,000 years ago among African hunter-gatherers.

The unusually large sample of 270 engraved eggshell fragments, mostly excavated over the past several years at Diepkloof Rock Shelter in South Africa, displays two standard design patterns, according to a team led by archaeologist Pierre-Jean Texier of the University of Bordeaux 1 in Talence, France. Each pattern enjoyed its own heyday between approximately 65,000 and 55,000 years ago, the investigators report in a paper to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers already knew that the Howiesons Poort culture, which engraved the eggshells, engaged in other symbolic practices, such as engraving designs into pieces of pigment, that were considered to have been crucial advances in human behavioral evolution. But the Diepkloof finds represent the first archaeological sample large enough to demonstrate that Stone Age people created design traditions, at least in their engravings, Texier says.

Evidence of intentionally produced holes in several Diepkloof eggshells indicates that ancient people made what amounted to canteens out of them, a practice that researchers have documented among modern hunter-gatherers in southern Africa.

The engraved patterns probably identified the eggshells as the property of certain groups or communities, Texier proposes.

"The Diepkloof engravings were clearly made for visual display and recognized as such by a large audience comprising members of a community, and probably members of related communities," comments University of Bordeaux 1 archaeologist Francesco d'Errico, who was not involved in the new study.

D'Errico participated in the recent unearthing of 13 pieces of engraved pigment at South Africa's Blombos Cave dating to between 100,000 and 75,000 years ago. Along with perforated sea shells and other personal ornaments previously excavated in Africa and the Middle East, these discoveries show that items holding symbolic meaning were made more than 60,000 years ago by both modern humans and Neandertals.

Even more exciting, according to archaeologist Curtis Marean of Arizona State University in Tempe, is the presence of drinking spouts in the South African eggshells. Water containers opened a new world of travel across arid regions for ancient people, he notes.

"The ability to carry and store water is a breakthrough technological advance, and here we have excellent evidence for it very early," Marean says. "Wow!"

Eggshell fragments from the oldest sediment layers at Diepkloof display a hatched-band motif. These engravings consist of two long, parallel lines intersected by varying numbers of short lines. Some specimens contain one hatched band, while others display remnants of two or three. Engravers always fashioned parallel lines first and then inserted regularly spaced intersecting lines, Texier says.

Eggshells from younger soil layers at Diepkloof contain patterns consisting of deeply engraved, parallel lines that sometimes converge or intersect. One eggshell fragment from these layers exhibits a different pattern- slightly curved horizontal lines that cross a central, vertical line.

Of the many Howiesons Poort sites in southern Africa that have yielded ostrich eggshells, only Diepkloof shows evidence of stylistic engraving traditions, Texier says.
From Archaeology Daily News

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Minimalist » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:46 am

Water containers opened a new world of travel across arid regions for ancient people, he notes.

"The ability to carry and store water is a breakthrough technological advance, and here we have excellent evidence for it very early," Marean says.

Nice find, Ish.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Rokcet Scientist » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:47 pm

Water containers opened a new world of travel across arid regions for ancient people, he notes.

"The ability to carry and store water is a breakthrough technological advance, and here we have excellent evidence for it very early," Marean says.
"Very early"?
If HE was capable of reaching Georgia and Malacca 1,8 mya it looks like he probably licked the problem of water carrying waaaay before 60,000 kya, doesn't it?

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Digit
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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Digit » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:18 pm

So where does the 'communication' bit come from?

Roy.
First people deny a thing, then they belittle it, then they say it was known all along! Von Humboldt

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Minimalist » Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:13 pm

Perhaps 'ornamentation' might be a better word but in either case it means that someone thought about doing it and then executed the thought.

That demonstration of cognition will be enough to keep Ish happy.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Digit » Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:33 pm

Decoration is how I saw it as well Min.

Roy.
First people deny a thing, then they belittle it, then they say it was known all along! Von Humboldt

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Minimalist » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:26 pm

It's the "thought" that counts.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Digit » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:29 pm

Don't tell me, they were chocolate Easter eggs Min.

Roy.
First people deny a thing, then they belittle it, then they say it was known all along! Von Humboldt

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Minimalist » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:42 pm

These "spring-is-coming" celebrations go way back into human history. Who can say?

Perhaps there is a historical Easter Bunny upon whom all the legends are based?
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Rokcet Scientist » Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:08 am

Digit wrote:So where does the 'communication' bit come from?
That, Roy, is an exquisite example of wishful thinking/projection.

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Digit » Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:12 am

Like 2 + 2 = 5 you mean? :lol:

Roy.
First people deny a thing, then they belittle it, then they say it was known all along! Von Humboldt

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Ishtar » Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:38 am

Rokcet Scientist wrote:
Digit wrote:So where does the 'communication' bit come from?
That, Roy, is an exquisite example of wishful thinking/projection.
And that Roy, is an exquisite example of wishful thinking/projection by Rokcet boy that early man was cognitively impaired. :P
Eggshell fragments from the oldest sediment layers at Diepkloof display a hatched-band motif. These engravings consist of two long, parallel lines intersected by varying numbers of short lines. Some specimens contain one hatched band, while others display remnants of two or three. Engravers always fashioned parallel lines first and then inserted regularly spaced intersecting lines, Texier says.

Eggshells from younger soil layers at Diepkloof contain patterns consisting of deeply engraved, parallel lines that sometimes converge or intersect. One eggshell fragment from these layers exhibits a different pattern- slightly curved horizontal lines that cross a central, vertical line.
These are the consonants of the much later, medieval Ogham language.

Image
Ogham (English pronunciation: /ˈoʊəm/ or /ˈɒɡəm/; Old Irish: ogam, pronounced [ˈɔɣamˠ], Modern Irish [ˈoːmˠ] or [ˈoːəmˠ]) is an Early Medieval alphabet used primarily to write the Old Irish language, and occasionally the Brythonic language.[3] Ogham is sometimes referred to as the "Celtic Tree Alphabet", based on a High Medieval Bríatharogam tradition ascribing names of trees to the individual letters.
More about Ogham here on this Wiki page

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Rokcet Scientist » Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:28 pm

Ishtar wrote:
Rokcet Scientist wrote:
Digit wrote:So where does the 'communication' bit come from?
That, Roy, is an exquisite example of wishful thinking/projection.
And that Roy, is an exquisite example of wishful thinking/projection by Rokcet boy that early man was cognitively impaired. :P
And that again, Roy, is an(other) exquisite example of jumping to conclusions, plus an example of a poor sense of humor.

FYI, Ish: my point was that the conclusion that those designs demonstrate 'written communication' is an unwarranted conclusion. My point is a critique of the would-be analysts. Not of the hominid artist(s) who decorated those ostrich shells. Nowhere did I suggest "that early man was cognitively impaired". Quite the contrary: if you read my posts over the past years you will find that I am a strong champion of HE being the one that conquered all the continents. Including the Americas, and even Antarctica! Looong before HS(S) was even a glimmer in his daddy's eye. The conquering of all the continents involved seafaring and navigation in one way or another. "Cognitively impaired" hominids would have been incapable of seafaring and navigation. HE was a smart cookie. HE made fire, trekked, rafted/boated and navigated, and thus he must have communicated. But those ornamented ostrich shells do not demonstrate that. They only demonstrate that the artist(s) felt it worthwile to do the decoration. But about the reason that compelled them to do it - the reason why, and what it means (if anything) – we can only speculate.

Until we find a Rosetta ostrich shell, of course. :lol:

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Ishtar » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:08 am

I apologise for jumping to that conclusion, Rokcet. I was obviously wrong in that assessment. Mea culpa. :oops:

But interestingly, I think this discussion highlights the nub of our problem in our trying to understand early man and how he thought.

For instance, let's analyse what we call writing and what we call design.

Much of the cognitive skill for what we call writing has been attributed, by scientists, to the left hand hemisphere of the brain. Whereas the pictorial/metaphor (design) skills are attributed to the right.

Now it is my understanding that early man used both hemispheres in a more holistic way. I've come to this conclusion from practising shamanism, which has put me much more in touch with the right hemisphere. When I view many of the ritual finds that turn up from time to time, I see them in a different light to someone who is not of this way of thinking.

So let's go back to what we call writing .... in essence, what is it? What is writing? It is lines on a page, and not even a page sometimes ... it can be lines on a stelae or a gravestone or a signpost or ...anywhere, even an ostrich shell. These lines are formed to create symbols which repeat themselves in varying fashions over and over into patterns that we've been taught to recognise as sounds. These sounds go to make up words to which we also been taught to attribute specific meanings.

So I'm sure you can grasp where I'm going with this ... if I'm right that early man was more in touch with the right hemisphere of his brain, then it would be no surprise to find that his method of communication was more pictorial, more design-influenced. Add to that ~ and this is why I put the Ogham up here ~ we have at least one example of an early language which was based on long parallel lines intersected by regularly spaced short ones (as was that on the ostrich shells at Diepkloof) and so perhaps we can start to see this from a different perspective?

So to go back to the article, I don't believe it is the researchers' wishful thinking but that the logical steps taken to reach the above conclusion were just not included in the article for very good reason ~ it is not The Times or the Daily Mail. This story came from Archaeology Daily News who assume that most of their readers would have enough knowledge of this particular subject not to need it to have it spelled out to them (no pun intended! :lol: ) Of course, they could have been wrong in that assumption ...because it was not understood here.

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Re: Written communications 60,000 yrs ago ~ on ostrich shells

Post by Digit » Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:31 am

RS an I have argued about everything from left handed fruit flies to the Sun standing still, but one of his views I strongly support is on HE, and this is IMO relevant to the LH/RH brain debate and the multi regional debate. The Chinese argue, as I have pointed out before, claim descent straight from HE, along with most Asiatics.
Right or wrong it would very neatly explain the 'mental' difference between western 'mechanical' concepts and oriental 'spritual' approaches.
We seem to reason differently.

Roy.
First people deny a thing, then they belittle it, then they say it was known all along! Von Humboldt

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