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Early Human Marks Are 'Symbols' (1.2 - 1.4 Million Years Old)
BBC ^ | 3-16-2004 | Paul Rincon

Posted on 03/16/2004 1:59:41 PM PST by blam

Early human marks are 'symbols'

By Paul Rincon
BBC News Online science staff

The 1.4-1.2m-year-old bone is incised with man-made markings

A series of parallel lines engraved in an animal bone between 1.4 and 1.2 million years ago may be the earliest example of human symbolic behaviour. University of Bordeaux experts say no practical process, such as butchering a carcass, can explain the markings.

But many researchers believe the capacity for true symbolic thinking arose much later with the emergence of modern humans, Homo sapiens.

The 8cm-long bone was unearthed at the Kozarnika cave in north-west Bulgaria.

Another animal bone found at the site is incised with 27 marks along its edge.

"These lines were not from butchering; in this place (on the animal) there is nothing to cut. It can't be anything else than symbolism," Dr Jean-Luc Guadelli, of the University of Bordeaux, France, told BBC News Online.

'Precise markings'

When early humans butchered animal carcasses for meat, they left cut marks on the bones made by the stone tools they used to scrape away the flesh.

But the French and Bulgarian researchers who have been excavating at Kozarnika claim the parallel cuts on the bones are too precise to be the result of hacking at the animal to strip away meat.

There's no precedent for this at all, if in fact they are incised markings rather than butchery marks

Paul Bahn, ancient art expert

"Now, what is the meaning of these symbols? It is impossible to know. But they put on this bone something they wanted to explain: 'I saw 16 animals in this place'. It could be something like language."

Many researchers see the capacity for symbolism in humans as something that only became widespread after about 50,000 years ago in our own species. Therefore, evidence of this capacity in an earlier species of human is highly controversial.

"There's no precedent for this at all - if in fact they are incised markings rather than butchery marks. This would be a very welcome thing if it's confirmed," Paul Bahn, an expert in ancient art, told BBC News Online.

"I see a very long evolution for art and I see absolutely no credence in the view whatsoever that it magically appears with our sub-species through a genetic mutation," he added.

Back and forth

Dr Guadelli and his colleagues have discovered a human molar tooth of a similar age to the incised bones. It belongs to a species of early Homo, but the researchers are unsure of the exact species.

HUMAN FAMILY TREE

Scientists are trying to piece together the species relationships
A good candidate would be Homo erectus, a species of hominid that was spreading beyond its homeland in Africa at the time the bone markings were made.

The incised bone seems to have belonged to an unknown bovid mammal, the group that includes sheep, cattle and antelope.

It comes from ground layers dated using palaeomagnetism, which determines age using past patterns of reversals in the Earth's magnetic field.

Details of the excavations have been outlined at a symposium in Rennes, France. The findings are to be published soon in an English-language archaeological journal.

Picture courtesy of Aleta Guadelli


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: crevolist; early; human; marks; symbols

1 posted on 03/16/2004 1:59:42 PM PST by blam
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To: farmfriend

2 posted on 03/16/2004 2:01:35 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
Just somebody testing the edge of their ulu. She would be flabbergasted to know we see this as some kind of notation.
3 posted on 03/16/2004 2:07:12 PM PST by RightWhale (Theorems link concepts; proofs establish links)
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To: blam; mad puppy
The incised bone seems to have belonged to an unknown bovid mammal, the group that includes sheep, cattle and antelope.

Like this unknown bovid mammal?


4 posted on 03/16/2004 2:09:10 PM PST by SirChas
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To: RightWhale
Just what I was thinking.
5 posted on 03/16/2004 2:13:12 PM PST by Ditter
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To: blam; martin_fierro
It means: "He's a homo."
6 posted on 03/16/2004 2:15:11 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (Written by Jeremy Rockey.)
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To: SirChas
eeeeyyyeeewwww ! man she's fugly!!
7 posted on 03/16/2004 2:19:00 PM PST by gdc61
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To: PatrickHenry
Early human ping.
8 posted on 03/16/2004 2:22:23 PM PST by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: blam
Zildjian Bump.
9 posted on 03/16/2004 2:43:17 PM PST by FreedomFarmer (I named my boar Mohamed.)
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To: blam

I could be wrong, but I think those markings mean something like, "F15 596."

10 posted on 03/16/2004 2:53:59 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (Reads Caveman.)
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To: blam
Oh the guys from "Forbidden Archeology" are going to have a field day with this!
11 posted on 03/16/2004 2:57:01 PM PST by Harmless Teddy Bear (Proudly out of step with the majority since 1973)
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To: SirChas
AHHHHHHHHhhhhh my eyes
12 posted on 03/16/2004 3:01:57 PM PST by correctthought (Shop smart, shop S-mart.)
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To: Lurking Libertarian
I think those markings mean: "For a good time, call Ooga!"
13 posted on 03/16/2004 5:03:53 PM PST by PatrickHenry (A compassionate evolutionist.)
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To: *crevo_list; VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Physicist; LogicWings; ...
Slow news day ping. [This list is for the evolution side of evolution threads, and sometimes for other science topics. FReepmail me to be added or dropped.]
14 posted on 03/16/2004 5:06:43 PM PST by PatrickHenry (A compassionate evolutionist.)
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To: Charles Henrickson
"I, Ogg, belched ten times."
15 posted on 03/16/2004 5:16:22 PM PST by VadeRetro
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To: RightWhale
Just somebody testing the edge of their ulu.

That would be my bet.

Or a form of primitive "doodling", which I would expect would pre-date actual *symbolic* markings by many millennia.

16 posted on 03/16/2004 5:52:53 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: blam
It is ongoing absurdity to regard humans from how ever hundreds and thousands of years ago as less innately intelligent as we are. To rely upon archeology or anthropology when striving to gauge the "intelligence" of earlier generations is egotistical folly.

There is zero reason to believe that men have not always been men, always the same in any innate respect, and in the most important respect always knowing right from wrong.

The fascination of examining men and the evidence of man's existence is how exactly alike we prove to be, in any essential aspect.

17 posted on 03/16/2004 6:09:26 PM PST by Urbane_Guerilla
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To: blam
#1 - What proof is there that its 1.4 million years old?

#2 - Even if it is that old, what proof is there that the markings were made 1.4 million years ago? Mt. Rushmore is old, but the carvings are not...etc.
18 posted on 03/16/2004 6:18:40 PM PST by Bronco_Buster_FweetHyagh
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To: Urbane_Guerilla
egotistical folly

Seems alot of that has taken place over the years.

I'm always amazed how they underestimate our ancestors. But most proffs are liberals with the firm belief that there is no wisdom in the ages and the age of "human enlightenment" occurred in the 1960's.

19 posted on 03/16/2004 6:38:50 PM PST by lizma
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To: PatrickHenry
Thanks for the ping!
20 posted on 03/16/2004 8:31:45 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Bronco_Buster_FweetHyagh
Don't be a cynic. It says on the back, quite clearly, "Bunga wuz here, 1397996 B.C.E.".
21 posted on 03/17/2004 6:53:34 AM PST by Shryke
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To: SirChas
LOL!
22 posted on 03/17/2004 3:00:37 PM PST by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: blam
An early form of Bar Coding?
23 posted on 03/17/2004 3:04:43 PM PST by GreenHornet
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To: GreenHornet
"An early form of Bar Coding?"

Perhaps. Unfortunately the bar-code reader would not be out of R&D for over a million years later.

24 posted on 03/17/2004 3:10:51 PM PST by blam
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To: GreenHornet
My thoughts exactly, except the the lefty profs will propose that our society is infringing upon early man's patent and we owe them reparations for the lost economic value of the early bar code. The erudite profs no doubt will serve as the modern-day representatives of the primitives and invest their reparations for those benighted victims of capitalism.
25 posted on 03/17/2004 3:11:11 PM PST by Auntie Dem (Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Terrorist lovers gotta go!)
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To: blam
But the French and Bulgarian researchers who have been excavating at Kozarnika claim the parallel cuts on the bones are too precise to be the result of hacking at the animal to strip away meat.

A foolish assumption. Everyone "knows" that there is no such thing as intelligent design. Obviously the powerful swipes of a four clawed animal who lost a claw mid swipe.

26 posted on 03/17/2004 7:04:04 PM PST by AndrewC (I am a Bertrand Russell agnostic, even an atheist.</sarcasm>)
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