THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CAVE ART Blogged 2009 “Stones and Bones”
Anthropologists have confirmed that homo sapiens was thriving in communities in Africa 500,000 years ago. 30,000 years ago we were painting the walls and ceilings in underground caves. We lived without the physical culture we enjoy today, apparently enjoying each other and the natural wonders of this world...for hundreds of thousands of years. What changed?
Culture has clearly "advanced" -- the stones and bones show improvements and increased specialization coupled with organization. Tools become more efficient. The "fitness" is adjusted. Today we can physically see the changes we describe as neolithic revolutions which in turn led to "civilization" marching through its bronze, iron, and steel iterations.
Still, we look at the Cave Paintings and their absences -- no God, no King, no weapons, no hierarchies of men -- and the predominance of gravidity, of color and wonder. We really have to reconsider the direction we have come. In the recent blink of 10,000 years we seem to have wandered into an obsession with personality cults, superstition and weaponry. Have we wandered into a dead end? What is the real vector? What is going on now, and why is it so difficult to comprehend our actual History? Surely what we did for 100,000 years is significant compared to a few centuries of risings and fallings and futile prayers to pantheons of gods.
The point is, looking at Cave Art (which is only 30,000 years old but which was already "advanced" in the caves ((there is no evidence of slow beginnings which probably began "outside")), we had Art. We had the sciencia of the minerals and pigments. This is what makes the ABSENCES so startling. Cave Art depicts no gods, no weapons, no armies, no hierarchies. But we had Community and we had Art and yes, Science -- for hundreds of thousands of years.
The recent 10,000 year old obsession with superstition and vengeful slaughter of "others" is all very new and unnecessary. No, it was not as if evil did not happen, or Mankind did not suffer. The Ice Age extinguished the Cave culture. But there in our Past, it was still Eden compared with the mass suffering to which we have lately become accustomed at the hands of Kings and Priests.
- Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable. I am filled with joy. It can't be helped.
Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired. Filled, just filled, with Joy.