Defining terms in Rock Art
"It is hard to live with that I am the fool as long as I do not understand" … WordsplitterSitemap
Once we are working with a global topic it would be good if we have standardised terms like in exact sciences of physics and chemistry. In these disciplines the mathematics was naturally the same from the beginning but there has been a lot of work to create the SIS system that is the common language. In that system is a need for calculating with terms that everyone could understand and in the system the same kind of object get the same terms and parameters.
In the verbal sciences of archaeology, history and religion we have bunches of false valuation and terms that are created with cultural imperialism as the tutor. Naturally there is also the culture clash when terms are interpreted to another language as for instance the "medicine wheel". The Jesuits favoured terms that could make the aborigines primitive and strange. It is easy to miss the rational explanation when the words offer us a biased bunch of explanations in our ears. That sounds like music since it seemingly put us at a higher level than those down there. It is just humanlike behaviour.
Academics love to use words like primitive, shaman and cult when they do not find the words or understand the topic. Archaeology used much Latin from the beginning and they gave confusing names to cultures after the first find such as Azillian, Aurignacian, Magdalenian and terms that has nothing that describe and date the culture. At the same time they let us understand that the particular culture came and disappeared without any context before and after. The vocabulary of these sciences is simply a mess or goobeli-doc-ok-ok for the inner circle.
This has to be said again and again as long as the preliminaries tool our languages is not used in the scientific way. A priest is a priest whether he works as local medicineman in America or as shaman in Siberia or in ancient Egypt or in Catholic Church. Science should be neutral and use no pseudo-valuation and qualities taken from politics and fighting religions.
My academic friends tell that the academic method is "problemizing". From my own sphere I see that I have a tendency to dig too deep and only a few can follow me. However usually I go to the bottom and then I star simplifying. To simplify we need the whole picture so that we see the structures and see what is superficial stuff. We have to know what is important and it is bad science if we make a hen of a feather.
The problemizing should always be in relation to the topic on the agenda and the measure is that we should fully understand. If we are too superficial it leads easily to light explanations. Our animation should be made with ties to reality in those days. Otherwise the presentation became magic speculation in non-existence. The semi-biblical language has no place in times before Christianity and we should define the difference between religion and cultural ritual. That is if we want to be empirical scientist. There are other leagues on the agenda and let them have their vocabulary and language.
Someone wrote long ago the "in the Bible there are no adjectives". I have not checked it but it is a good rule in most writing. Unnecessary adjectives and bias off tropic should not be mixed in scientific writing. The "biblical" archaeology is working their own field when they know what they are going to find before digging. Then I use the word "biblical" as metaphor for all kind of biased science political as well as religious.
Some of my friends are young academics and they tell me that my public essays about ancient ideas are lacking every kind of academic organisation and method. Others can not see any value in it so my 25 years of fulltime research is totally wasted. Some have read only a few essays and can tell everything at once. My efforts are wasted on them but I doubt they can grasp the width and character of the problem of rock art. Normally I ignore questions if they are not biased with knowledge and tied to reality
The topic of rock-carvings consists of several 100000 individual figures and symbols in Scandinavia alone. The total context and environment of rock art is exceptional rich with a long timeline and many parameters. The big physical fields are often chaotic with many layers to sort out at the place. We must also find the links to eventual influence from other cultures. It would be possible to sort it out using big teams and making much statistics. However few would understand it.
I have seen works with maybe thousand or more individual figures from a cultural area. They do not say much if we do not know the context. Often we need the near context to understand the detail and the idea of the figure. I think the best method in the initial stage of preview is the human brain that could hold many parameters in mind and recognise significant structures and proportions. I have used the idea of fractals that tells us that even in chaos there is some order and recognisable structures.
I used that idea to search for early calendars and rituals. I am almost sure that they called it World Order 5000 years ago. Then they meant the World was what they see within their horizon in timespace, i.e. during the yearly cycle. Soon I discovered that the core of civilisation is the ritual when societies learn to "Follow the lead in suite / Follow Her as idol" for their life. In some rock-carvings it is visualised and easier to understand than theoretic reasoning. I use many illustrations that give the readers the freedom to make their conclusions.
Next stage is making representative "overviews" of certain periods and topics. The artist uses the same method when he wants to tell a story. He chooses the main motif and hangs other things as explanations around it. It is not necessary a true picture, but it tell the story. We should consider the contexts and environment of each of the symbols and motifs in rock-carvings. As soon as we see some script in it must be careful with every detail that could have a meaning.
The individual human brains have the capacity to keep it all in memory at a time. It is a matter of time and work. My brains are not exceptional but let them work day and night for 25 years something come out. We should be the pretenders and feel their life in our bones. It takes time before we can sit as equal among our ancestors. If we have wrong attitude they would not tell us anything. … It is just as when I feel that the members in a discussion do not like me. As I say, I draw down the curtain.
The human brains are wonderful since we can program them to work after certain rules and store facts as we wish. It is faster than the fastest computer when in imaginative thinking when the brains seek associations and combinations…. Once I saw arrays of rotating symbols in my eyes when I wakened up since the brains sought for similarity when asleep.
Often discussions are about anything else than the topic in focus. Normally the academics ask at this point about stage of academic knowledge. To be honest there was none in Sweden until I began 25 years ago. My work is just a preliminary sketch to show some order in chaos. I do not count all those books telling about curiosities in rock-carvings since they are in reality insulting our ancestors.
Naturally I have to describe the environment I know best. Swedish rock carvings have been noticed since 17th century when the king got interested in antiquities. The priests were obliged to register all local ancient remains and later they were obliged to send all loose artefacts to the institution of antiquities. But a short description or a bad drawing (often only a detail) is not the same as analysing science.
None of the early drawings of rock-carvings are near the image we get with today's methods. And today's documentation is not the same as the object 400 years ago since erosion have altered the picture. Good to know that this science would never be exact. We got laws that should protect all ancient remains but law is one thing and practises another. In 19th -20th centuries land hunger took many remains and the past 100 years machinery in agriculture and forests have taken most of the remaining archaeology.
The first step of good documenting was when Lauritz Baltzar in end of 19th century document many localities in Bohuslen. As teacher of art and drawing he could draw and his method was to make a grid on the rock and draw the drawings bit by bit as he saw them. His drawings are still a good reference. But like many others he could not show the layers in the drawings so we get all ages mixed in one image.
Mostly the science stays still at the stage of documenting. When they publish photos it is mostly the keyhole look that show curious details and things that could be understood up to peoples imagination about primitive ancestors practising sun cult. Worse they are showing the speculative motifs without understanding them in the terms of those days.
Other disciplines have for long been interested in the context and some are also interested in the physical and cultural environment of those days. There are many experimental and pretending settlements nowadays. There is not any interest in the small figures and symbols in our rock-carvings in the books I have read. Still just the abstracted script symbols are signs of advanced societies. That is why I call the earlier method "unqualified guessing". I do not get academic friends with such a statement but I stay at the scientific truth.
The first important step is naturally documenting and nowadays several methods are used depending on the conditions of the rock art. Many of the earlier works are not reliable since students have not understood how important it is to copy forms precisely. There is no big difference between scientific "identifying individuals out of chaos" and when we look for characteristic details when we sort out all the faces we know. But what would it be if we left the nose from the characteristics or worse made a false nose?
Faces have many details so it is fairly easy to find unique details but it is difficult to draw it.. But when we look at abstracted drawings and symbols every detail could have a meaning or sort it out from something similar. Then it is much like graphology where we can sort out styles and personal touch. Some images are very artistically and we can see that the same artist has been for instance in Norway and Bohuslen.
For long archaeology made dating and characteristic out of bits of pottery. Pottery is the most frequent remain on ancient sites especially in the Mediterranean. Mankind always tells about what he/she has on the sleeves and we generally see ritual motifs. It is often the first indication of culture layer when they are digging. In the long run archaeology made detailed catalogues so they could often tell exactly from where the clay came and from which place some style emanated. We have not seen a similar method of sifting details in rock-carvings
When making catalogue we get many parameters and in this case we need to tie it to something and then avoiding chaos. We have to simplify if we want readable description. Referring to other academic writers and using complicated deriving would not make a flowing text. Then we must stay at the local relativity field and look for structures that can carry the description.
Fortunately I discovered early the common denominator is in many cases the practical astronomy and year ritual including known myths. Then it easy to follow the internal timetable and sequences that are global description of season rituals connected to the celestial world.
Thanks to John in Australia I lately discovered that Month Wheel is found in Australia, South and North America besides the 56 Aubrey holes at Stonehenge. The principles of naksatras are spread in other places as stone configurations and stone rows and rows of cupmarks in rock carvings. We can learn from our ancestors' method of "catching the celestial chaos" by making a grid and asterisms that filled the chaotic night sky. Once they had the grid they could relate the moon orbit to the grid and make a "Road Map" to use a modern concept.
The Month Wheel was maybe created late around 3100 BC and it defines the mansions of the moon in the night sky. Earlier they just counted the 56 new and full moons. Once they had the mansions they could use it for calculating the future. The future is always a 'suite' of events and civilisation is about following the lead during these events.
Since there are "foreign" figures and connections we should also know the symbolism and history of at least 4000 years cultural history and 30000 years of intellectual development in the Old World. This means millions of facts that should be catalogued and defined to character and context that makes it possible to describe it all. The so-called New World is an enigma since we do not know if they imported knowledge or if they came to the same conclusions by local observation and organisation.
The difficulty in verbal science is to keep right focus. We always describe the unknown with the known. That means focus should be on the description of the unknown and not on the metaphors/ ideograms/ logograms that describes the focus. Those with teleological attitude want to see idols/ gods as persons with existence and capacity to act. The focus should be on the work description and the role models as abstractions and animations..
However when we want scientific descriptions we should analyse the local field with all its parameters. We need and overlook map of the site and carvings. Every detail should be located and described and if necessary in the context with other details. It is hard work and I have only made lists of the details I have seen … honestly I have surely overlooked some details. When looking at abstracted figures it is easy to become blind….
See Dal Vocabulary atvocabular.htm
Observe there is no guarantee that all descriptions are right. It is not that easy. Next big project is to upgrade and research about proto-Germanic language
We can make a vocabulary and describe the local context. It is always the best if we can get all parameters in a template. However it is impossible to catalogue the foreign references since it implies that we should list all symbolism, myths and other facts from all contemporary times and places. In that case the initial solution is to depend on our brains that can associate to what we know. Next step is to search for sources and listed script symbols and similar systematic art.
We should know at least the main myths that are described with figurative arts and detail symbols. For instance a female stick figure with spread leg in birth giving position is initially referring to the moon goddess Inanna and to sowing and fertility flow. However look out it is applicable only to the parts of the world that knew the myth.
The Americas have today the problem of being "isolate". Many scientists are sceptics about the Old World -- America connection. The same epithet was earlier applied on Scandinavia too. Science did not understand that Inanna myth reached Scandinavia in 4th millennium and the root of the Moon and Water Lady is at least 20000 years old in West Europe. The scientific mind should be open and describe what we find at first and then go for other evidence.
No one in Scandinavia have recognised all the small symbols and made a scientifical research and my work is so far just preliminary description. But I think that somehow we must get a compound theory that all the time ties the individual to its context so to speak. A simple cupmark is nearly nothing alone, but when we see it in some context we get a meaning. Many small fragments create a story about the local context.
Lately I have been working on making essay and files that simplify the overlook. The file about Carnac and link to Ireland gives us the core of rock-carvings on the Isles in West Europé since the major part is cupmarks and concentric circles. The file about Celestial World Order gives the core of organisation in society in the Entire Old World including Europe.
The file about Origin of Script gives us the clue that we can not concentrate only on script symbols but must se all figurative art as a message from the past 20000 years. In 4th millennium it was codified to script that become refined in time. Since we find script symbols among the figurative rock art we have to know about both parameters.
It is good to know about the big cultures and about the Lingua Franca that tied them together. The files about Indus symbolism and Egyptian ditto help us with associations when we meet new symbols. I will soon upgrade at least the sitemap of "Interpreting rock art and script" that is like a gateway to that topic.
Catshaman 23 June 2003