We are expressive as a species. We have developed brains large enough to imagine language, and to construct language, in order that we can express our individual perceptions of living to each other more accurately. How amazing is that? Where did that first idea arrive from, an early form of human constructed a symbol that could be interpreted and repeated, analysed and understood by a second human being? Remarkable indeed. I wanted to go backwards, to trace how humans started to make themselves understood to one another, to reveal the story of the beginning of language, because it is the story of mankind’s authority. We are entering a new world , a landscape of technological discoveries in every field, and our language will change to reflect it. Our scientists have to interpret new research daily, and create solutions to global problems across hundreds of different languages. And not only our scientists, our economic leaders too, have to create working solutions beyond the boundaries of seperate languages. The new language will be between technology itself, and the human.
We are at the edge of a future we do not have mapped out, in the same way our predecessors were 40,000 years ago. There were early humans communicating with one another, founding the basis of modern society, where success and progress became dependant upon the willingness, inventiveness and desire to interact with one another.
The picture at the top is an early painting at Ubirr showing a running male figure with hunting gear. The original significance of
these figures is unknown but some are arranged in groups that appear to depict ancient hunting practices or ritual activities. Ubirr is a region in North Australia, where aborigines have practiced rock art for millenia. The use of rock painting in pre-history is unknown, but handed down through history, the practices have echoes of the past, showing how to hunt, and how to increase game populations.
Further along our timeline, we arrive here, at a cave in France, Chauvet. These discoveries in Europe of cave painting are impressive in themselves, but they also indicate a huge quantum leap in the intellectual capacity of our predecessors. For the first time, we have evidence of early man interpreting his environment, and choosing to represent it. Why he does remains a mystery, we can only conjecture, but the fact that he does signifies how accomplished he is becoming. We date these revolutionary moves to around 40,000 years ago. I can only be excited at seeing art that dates back so far, and attempt to imagine the experiences of the artists themselves, choosing pigment, laying it on with palms ,or brushes made from animal tails, or grasses. And I find it fascinating what is left out, there is no landscape, or vegetation, only animal representations. No representations of peers even.Were these lessons in zoology for aspiring hunters? Or were the animals sacred in some way, and thus being represented as deities? Who can answer those questions?
Before I leave you, I want to link you to two of the most amazing caves. Please have a virtual tour, you will not regret it. We can’t actually visit Lascaux now, as it is preserved to avoid damage , but this is the next best thing.
I realise I have digresseed from my initial ponderings about the origin of language, and I will be back to that, but I got distracted by the discovery of the caves, and their importance to our understanding of how modern man began to develop his intellect, and the impact of the biological development of a bigger brain. I am going to leave those thoughts for another day, as I need to feed my biological craving for coffee and food. Thanks for taking the trail with me.