Two hundred thousand years ago modern humans appeared in Africa. Language was completely formed about 100,000 years ago, but when did written communication begin? They had our bodies and brains, but when did they become us?
As an undergraduate in anthropology, Genevieve von Petzinger was intrigued by the geometric signs that were often seen in slides of animal paintings from European caves, the oldest art in the world. When she sought to find out more about them, she was surprised to find no useful information. The signs were dismissed as doodles, or embellishments without any meaning. So of course, she started her own investigation. Among other things, she realized that there were only 32 signs in use during the 30,000 years of the Ice Age across the whole of Europe. From open air sites in Portugal to caves in Spain they appear frequently. So what were they – symbols used in religious rituals, a form of communication, sending messages or claiming ownership, or something else entirely? This book is easily understood by a complete amateur. Everything is explained in layman’s terms and her descriptions of trips through remote caves left me feeling that I’d been there.
eGalley review Publication date 5.31.16
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