paleolithics

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Bryn Cader Faner Bronze Age Burial Chamber, Rhinog National Nature Reserve, North Wales, 26.8.16. A round cist cairn with a collapsed central chamber, leading unusually to projected upright stones around the periphery of the structure. I spent two hours trekking to get to the location but it was definitely worth the effort. A remote but beautiful ruin in North Wales.

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One of the finest examples of early human art: Venus of Willendorf.

Created 25,000 years ago in the Upper Palaeolithic, Venus of Willendorf is considered one of the most beautiful female statuettes of prehistoric art history. The name, however, is misleading. Archaeologists dubbed such Paleolithic statuettes found ’Venuses,’ after the Greek/ Roman goddess of love and beauty, who was most often depicted nude. Found in Austria in 1908, this 11cm intact limestone figurine was originally coated with red ochre. 

Interpreting prehistoric art, especially of this age, remains problematic. One must always be careful not to enforce their own ideas or views onto the creators of the art, who lived in a very distant period of history we know little about. The extensive anatomical exaggeration of the depicted women has led many to suggest that these statuettes served as some form of fertility image. Like others, Venus of Willendorf is depicted with no facial features. Whatever the exact purpose was of these figurines, their sculptors do not seem to be depicting a specific woman, rather the female form.

Photos taken by myself, this artefact is courtesy of, and can be viewed at the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria. AncientArt in Europe 2014/15.

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Standing Stones Sculpture near Tre’r Ceiri Iron Age Hilltop Fort at Nant Gwrtheyrn, exploring the Iron Age and Celtic heritage, 8.5.16. 

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You cowboy around with the avengers some. Guys got, what, armor. Magic. Super-powers. Super-strength. Shrink-dust. Grow-rays. Magic. Healing-factors. 

I’m an orphan raised by carnies fighting with a stick and a string from the Paleolithic era. 

Paleolithic. I looked it up.

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‘The Devil’s Arrows’ Neolithic Standing Stones, Boroughbridge, Yorkshire, 8.8.16. The three millstone grit standing stones are aligned with other prehistoric sites and are of a notable size. They are unusual in their naturally corrugated peaks and hence have been named ‘The Devil’s Arrows’.

What Shattered Skulls Say About Stone Age Women

A recent analysis discovered that up to 1 in 6 skulls exhumed in Scandinavia from the late Stone Age — between about 6,000 and 3,700 years ago — had nasty head injuries. And going against previous findings of mass gravesites, women were just as likely as men to be sporting serious skull injuries. The problem was context. The mass gravesites were evidence of larger, armed conflict. Because few women had been found in the mass graves, it was previously thought that women were kept from conflicts because of their value as childbearers. But that was misleading. “It would be like only looking at a war zone to assess violence,” one of the researchers said. “That’s not going to tell you what’s going on in your neighborhood.”

To see what more humdrum days looked like for these Stone Age farmers, the team assessed 478 skulls from collections throughout Sweden and Denmark from between 3900 B.C. and 1700 B.C. Almost 10% of Swedish skulls bore signs of violence. And nearly 17% of Danish skulls did. Men were indeed more likely to have nonfatal skull injuries, shown by the amount of healing around the injured area. But women were equally likely to have had fatal skull injuries, distinguished because of the lack of healing. Put together the new analysis suggests a life where violence was commonplace. Raids on their livestock, family feuds, and frequent skirmishes with competing groups would have been normal. And women, same as men, were victims of the violence – and perhaps perpetrators too.

So I’ve been thinking about soulmate AUs. The kind where your soulmate’s name is written on your skin. How would that start? When would that start?

Not with the beginning of writing. For centuries, in China, in Sumer, in Egypt, in Mesoamerica, writing was used for accounting or religion, and nothing else. Most people would never be able write their names or recognize them if they were written. Only royalty, gods, and perhaps some property owners would.

Individual scribes might have had signatures. For that matter, for all we know individual Paleolithic artists might have had signatures. But most people wouldn’t. What would happen the first time someone was born with an unknown symbol on their hand?

Probably it would be an isolated mystery. Remember, in most of these scenarios there’s no actual guarantee that you’ll ever meet your soulmate (although most people seem to end up with one from the same general area. Which is statistically unlikely). No one would know what it meant. Maybe people with symbols would be seen as special, or divine, or demonic.

And then it might start happening more often - or stop happening, if writing stopped being used (like in Greece after 1200 BCE). But most of the time still no one would know what the symbol meant. And most people wouldn’t have symbols, because most people’s soulmates wouldn’t know how to write.

(Sometimes I think the theory is that people would have a thumbprint instead of a soulmate mark? But this would be basically useless for matching purposes - you would have no idea where to start. So from that point of view the first people with actual names would just have them instead of the thumbprints that everyone else had and didn’t know the meaning of.

Incidentally, using thumbprints for recognition isn’t universal in non-literate societies either. European society didn’t realize that fingerprints were unique until the late 19th century. In a lot of places, they weren’t used until people were already using signatures, and needed an option for illiterate people. Also, while they are an identifying mark, they really have no relation at all to your name. For most of human existence, having a physical marker of your identity really wasn’t that important.)

Only somewhere with at least moderately widespread literacy would someone be able to look at a mark and go “Oh, that’s my friend Imhotep’s name. What a coincidence!” And only somewhere with widespread literacy would Imhotep’s soulmate also be able to write their name. Most early languages were logographic, and in cuneiform names specifically were almost always logographic, so you wouldn’t even be able to sound it out.

Phoenician (starting 1050 BCE) was the first widespread writing system, and was simple enough and common enough that sailors could write in it. It was also the first phoenetic script which would allow you to easily approximate the pronounciation of the writing on your skin.

But still, most people wouldn’t have symbols. Most people would never meet anyone with their name on their skin.

This would be a problem in AUs where you never feel sexual attraction to anyone who isn’t your soulmate. Imagine religion and culture in a world where almost everyone is functionally asexual.

How long would it take, until someone realized that if people’s names matched up, they had some kind of bond? How long would it take before this was a generally accepted theory?

Also, how long before this was seen as at all important, given that most people with the status to know how to read would also have arranged marriages?

But once it was generally accepted, suddenly literacy would become a lot more important. People would demand to learn how to write. (Some people would learn that their soulmate’s name wasn’t in the local writing system. What happens then?) People would want to give their children more unique names (ancient Rome had about thirty given names for men total, and they named their daughters “first Julia” and “second Julia.”)

Anyway, around ancient Rome or so, when there would not only be a lot of literate people but also a lot of people able to recognize foreign alphabets, suddenly there would be a huge drive for 1) more literacy and 2) better long distance communication, so you could find the Caius or Ξανθίππη or שָׂרָה who had your name on their skin. And as this idea became more and more widespread, so would this desire. The same thing would be happening in China and Ethiopia and India.

This would revolutionize world history. There would be strong motivations both for exploration and for making peace with foreign cultures. Everyone in Rome with a Jewish soulmate would want to make sure they wouldn’t be killed before they could meet them. Everyone with a soulmate in a strange language would want to know at least what language it was.

Come to think of it, these are also all good reasons for why people wouldn’t believe in soulmates. Your soulmate can’t be one of the hated barbarians, so that symbol doesn’t mean anything!

And that’s leaving out the fact that lots of people still wouldn’t have a soulmate who could write, and completely ignoring the existence of polyamory.

So getting to a modern society with everyone just knowing that that was your soulmate’s name would involve a really complicated history, probably nothing at all like ours. And there would be huge pressure to ignore the existence of soulmates at all.

No conclusions here, just taking an illogical premise way too logically.

Early humans used mammoth ivory tool to make rope

TüBINGEN, Germany, July 22 (UPI) – Despite its technological importance to early hunter-gatherers, archaeologists know relatively little about the production and use of rope and twine during the Paleolithic Era.

Artifacts recently unearthed in Germany suggest some early humans used specialized ivory tools to make rope.

Researchers from the University of Tübingen and the University of Liège recovered a neatly preserved piece of mammoth ivory with intricate carvings. Researchers determined the tool was made 40,000 years ago, around the time the first humans arrived in Europe. Analysis of the ivory suggests the carved notches weren’t simply for decoration but were for the explicit purpose of weaving plant fibers into rope. 

Scientists came to their conclusion after rigorous testing. Rope-making best explains the ivory’s technological features, researchers argue in a new paper on the discovery – Read more.