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Art                  in General
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

The Globe

People apply the term Paleolithic art to a great range of materials, including cave paintings, rock carvings, sculpted and carved animals bones, ivory stauettes, and baked clay objects.(23)

In the late Paleolithic-Mesolithic transition highly crafted stone points, cave paintings, etc., seem to disappear and are replaced by a "drab" but functionally more complex technology. (45)

 

 

 

 

Most early complex societies underwent a transition in which labor-intensive, highly decorated pottery was replaced by mass-produced forms of much less aesthetic appeal. Various scholars have seen cultural collapse and dissolution in such changes, but as Trigger notes, this replacement does "not indicate a decline in cultural or aesthetic standards. Instead it suggests that pottery no longer served as a medium of artistic expression." (45)

Several factors may explain these dramatic changes in pottery manufacture. The individual and corporate social groups identified by regional pottery styles, for example, are, in a sense, dangerous expressions of individualism and group distinctiveness that detract from the unity of the larger state, and it is possible that these states suppressed some expressions of group identity not derived from the state structures. The greater efficiency, too, of producing massive quantities of cheap and nearly identical pottery vessels would be best realized in a state organization. (45)

As we saw in the cases of Egypt , Mesoamerica , and elsewhere, "art" was not just a minor peripheral part of the rise of ancient civilizations: art was an integral part of this process. In all early states, the cities, rank-wealth hierarchies, and functionally interdependent economies that arose were presaged by the spread of an art style that was usually expressed mostly directly in pottery. (52)

As for the claim that agriculture laid the foundations of art by providing us with leisure time, modern hunter-gatherers have on the average at least as much free time as do farmers. I grant that some people in industrial and farming societies enjoy more leisure than do hunter-gatherers, at the expense of many others who support them and have far less leisure. Farming undoubtedly made it possible to sustain full-time craftsmen and artists, without whom we would not have such large-scale art projects as the Sistine Chapel and Cologne Cathedral. However, the whole emphasis on leisure time as a critical factor in explaining artistic differences among human societies seems to me misguided. It's not lack of time that prevents us today from surpassing the beauty of the Parthenon. While post-agricultural technological advances did make new art forms possible and art preservation easier, great paintings and sculptures on a smaller scale than that of Cologne Cathedral were already being produced by Cro-Magnon hunter-gatherers fifteen thousand years ago. Great art was still being produced in modern times by hunter-gatherers such as Eskimos and Pacific Northwest Indians. In addition, when we count up the specialists whom society became able to support after the advent of agriculture, we should recall not only Michelangelo and Shakespeare but also standing armies of professional killers. (114)

I was into the world of the nomads, the North Central and North Eastern "tribes," and it was in this cold, wind-blown, nasty wasteland that I found the source for a style that, according to Mikh P. Gryaznov, not merely spread out into the South Seas and America, but moved westward into India, Ceylon, into the Mideast, Mediterranean, North Africa, France, and even up into the British Isles. The symmetrical, ornamental style, as such, was incredibly widespread, but its particular totemic use at the service of clan insignia and mixed zoomorphic forms was most especially involve with prehistoric North Asia, the South Pacific, and the Pacific coasts of the Americas. (120)

In a sense, I'd "explained" my Chavin cat. It looked Chinese because it was Chinese. Valdivian pottery looked Japanese because Japanese and Chinese prehistoric pottery was very much the same thing; in fact, both prehistoric Chinese and Japanese art were part of a larger stylistic-cultural "unit" -nomadic art, Central Asian art, the art of the Steppes, the Gobi, the "barbarians." One particular group of Olmecas looked northern Chinese/Mongol/Japanese because they were, and the archaic Chinese/oriental colony in Guerrero looked like an archaic Chinese/oriental colony because that's precisely what it was. …in the Freer Gallery in Washington there was a beautiful little bronze elephant with crosses and curlicues all over its rump and sides. It's Chinese! Late Shang dynasty. I was back to 2000 BC… (120)

Gimbutas, who passed away in 2001, is one of the leading proponents of an intriguing hypothesis about who was who and what was what in prehistory. It concerns the distinctive carved and/or painted figures of enormously fat women that have been found in many European Neolithic sites (C.7000-4000 BC) and the almost equally numerous and virtually identical examples going far back into the world of Palaeolithic cave art (the Venus of Laussel, C.30,000 BC; the Venus of Lespugue, C.25,OOO BC, etc.). According to Gimbutas and others who have entered this fray, these figures are the symbols and representations of an archetypal 'Mother Goddess' figure - simultaneously the Goddess of Fertility, the Goddess of Death and the Goddess of Rebirth - whose worship was ancient and must once have been extremely widespread. Whether we find her painted, carved in relief out of the rock wall of a cave (as in the celebrated example of Laussel), or in the form of a free-standing sculpture, the Goddess is usually represented as an imposing, hugely fat woman with dangling breasts, egg-shaped buttocks and bulging calves and forearms. It is therefore noteworthy that many figures exactly matching this description have been excavated from Malta's megalithic temples, including two in repose - usually referred to as 'the Sleeping Ladies' - that were found in the Hypogeum itself. But other 'Fat Ladies' - sitting down or standing up, sometimes miniature and sometimes carved on a fairly grand scale out of limestone - were found by the excavators at all the major megalithic temples of Malta. …the painted caves of Palaeolithic Europe - Lascaux, Chauvet, Laussel, Peche Merle, Lespugue, Altamira, Cosquer, and dozens upon dozens of other sites - …the Venus figures found there - dating back as far as 30,000 BC - do bear close comparison to the big-breasted, big-hipped Venuses of Malta, the 'Fat Ladies' represented again and again in the megalithic temples, and the Sleeping Ladies of the supposedly Neolithic Hypogeum. (124)

Heyerdahl reproduces rock carvings of the sacred birdmen and describes one of their ceremonies. These are to be compared with the petroglyphs of birdmen found in Scandinavia and Scotland, found on pottery in Peru, in stone carving in Central America, with the stone birds of Zimbabwe, the Mediterranean seals of birdmen - indeed everywhere where these red-haired, globe-trotting sailors and miners had based themselves. (135)

Fifteen years ago, when I began an intensified study of Pre-Columbian terra-cotta heads, I had no intention of making a study of the artistic representation of various races simply because I did not suspect that this aspect existed. On the contrary, what I was looking for [in Mexico] were typical 'Indian' heads. It was not long, however, before I discovered that in the early lower levels these genuine Indians were not to be found. The earliest figures encountered were those with Mongoloid characteristics and also real Chinese and very Japanese wrestlers, Tartars, all kinds of white people, especially Semitic types with and without beards, and a surprising number of Negroes and those with Negroid elements. (135)

Africa

 

Copper birdmen (left)from north of the village of Man in the Ivory Coast, whose African tribe is called Dan. Both names are suggestive. The tribe tradition is that in the very early days, the days of the first ancestors, a race of attractive human birds appeared, possessing all the sciences which they handed on to mankind. Birds represent the heavenly powers. (135)

 Evidence for the sea-born West Africa trade comes from the Cross River monoliths (right). In the Ikom district, Ogoja province of East Nigeria, the Cross River leads you from the ocean to the Cameroons. Here there are a large number of monoliths, thickly covered with the Mediterranean Bronze Age symbols we have come to know so well, the Maltese cross on the monolith outside the front of the Lagos museum, the spiral, the sun circles, the torque and the lozenge. Second, some of the figures, bearded, with pointed caps, look Phoenician, not African. Thirdly, their geographical position suggests a trading people, using the Cross River. Fourth, a number of the monoliths are simply phalluses, as was the Phoenician custom. (135)

We have seen that African art frequently reproduces the symbols of a civilisation that preceded the first dynasty of Egypt. We know that the African continent is filled with prehistoric mine-workings. Both African legends and religious practices confirm this mutual relationship. Africa, both the continent and its people, was for 3000 years part of the world-wide community of the Copper and Bronze Ages. African studies are an absurdity until they are based upon this. Isolation began only with the terrible coming of iron. For the new iron-age peoples were nations of land-lubbers and they recovered for civilisation only those areas to which they could walk. (135)

This replica of a brass figure from the Cameroons closely resembles Pelasgian art, not African art. Compare with figure of a Pelasgian from Greece. (135)

The sun-disc (left), with the horns on the helmet of the sun-king, is clearly carried by this figure from Upper Volta and can be compared with a figure from Scandinavia.

This brass figure of a soldier (right) from Upper Volta carries the spiral on his shield and should be compared with the crude drawings on the rock in Scandinavia. He has the pointed hat said to be characteristically Phrygian and Phoenician. (135)

A figure from Ivory Coast, dancing (right). He is clearly not African but Semitic both in appearance and in his style of dancing. (135)

 

 

 

 

Southwest Asia

 

...in 2001, in Iran, a flash flood near the Halil River opened ancient graves packed with beautiful stone pottery. Local villagers began plundering, forcing police to confiscate hundreds of finely worked stone vessels carved with images of animals and decorated with semiprecious stones. Because the vessels were not scientifically recovered, their age and origin are open to debate. However, the Iranian archaeologist in charge of the site, Yousef Madjidzadeh, strongly believes most were made more than four thousand years ago, and that the society that made them predates ancient Mesopotamia. This can be seen as another telltale sign of Bu Wizzer, the Land of Osiris, and the greater Mediterranean culture. (70)

On days of festival [in Babylonia] the pleasure of the people was enhanced by the music which was sung and played by the temple staff. Among the musical instruments may be mentioned the reed-flute, both single and double; the trumpet; the large harp, which stood on the ground and was played with the right hand; the small harp of from 10 to 15 strings, which was portable and was played with both hands; the lyre; the large squat round drum which either stood on the ground or was fastened to the front of the player, who struck it with both hands; the small drum with a long, narrow tapering body, also played with the hands; cymbals, bells and tambourines. (118)


…the temple is probably the oldest Sumerian temple known, and is in any case far older than the temples at Tall Loh. In the course of his excavations at Tall al-'Ubed, Hall found two panther heads in copper with bitumen cores; a copper stag's head from a relief representing Imgig; the lion-headed emblem of the god Ningirsu grasping two stags by their tails; four lions' heads of bituumen, with portions of their copper coverings, and with their original tongues, teeth, and eyes of jasper, shell and schist; a bull's head in copper, a gold horn, and plano-convex Sumerian bricks. (118)

There was no ethnic difference between Semite and Sumerian, the Cambridge Ancient History states and Semites were influential in Sumer from the start. Sumerians changed Mesopotamian civilisation, which already had millennia of development with villages, agriculture and pottery behind it. When the Sumerians came, a serious realistic people, the art of the potter deteriorated but architecture flourished. They brought with them sculpture, which had not been popular in Mesopotamia before. (135)

A unique monument bequeathed to us by the ancient Near East is a rock carving outside the ancient Hittite capital (the site is nowadays called Yazilikaya, which in Turkish means "inscribed rock"). After passing through gateways and sanctuaries, the ancient worshiper came into an open-air gallery, an opening among a semicircle of rocks, on which all the gods of the Hittites were depicted in procession. (146)

 

 


Egypt

Both the Egyptians (below) and the Maya (above) chose a winged circle to symbolize the divine in man. In hieroglyphic inscriptions, on the royal cartouches, and on the entranceways of temples, the winged circle appears throughout Egyptian architecture. In Egypt it was originally a pair of falcon wings symbolizing the ethereal, but during the fifth dynasty two serpents and a sun disk were inserted between the wings, representing Horus of Behdet. Although the artistic depiction of the winged circle is slightly different for the ancient Maya and Egyptians, the underlying principles and meaning as well as its representation in art are nearly identical. (70)

Indus Valley

There is an Indian game played on a board shaped like a cross, each arm ruled into spaces to make ladders, and the men are moved after casting dice. This very specific game is ancient in India; it was also played in pre-Columbian Mexico and called by a not dissimilar name, patolli. This alone would be convincing evidence of culture contact. The odds against the game having been duplicated by chance have been calculated as between 100,000 and 1,000,000 to l. (135)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

China

 Frequently taking as his example the Ch'an or Zen art of China and Japan, Coomaraswamy notes that the art of the east is "ideally" determined, not in the popular sense of sentimental or romantic idealization, but in the mathematical sense. It reveals the operation rather than the appearance of Nature, "the operation of spirit in life-movement" (Hsieh Ho). Personal feelings and passions are out of place; the oriental artist strives instead for a complete identification with his theme, a pure absorption acquired by techniques of mental discipline that are rooted in both ancient Taoism and the yoga practices of India. Often playful and humorous, this intuitive or "mystical" Asiatic art invites the viewer as well as the creator to experience the workings of the spirit in the natural world, the artist through his subject, the observer through the painting itself. Neither experience is possible, however, until the mental and affective barriers to the perception of truth are dissolved, until "all knots of the heart are undone." Oriental art is therefore a means of self-transcendence for both creator and critic, and in this sense an initiatory vehicle of great age. (115)

What I was seeing was a broad stylistic wave. It was the problem of modern "boundarying" again. The nomadic, tribal, prehistoric Orient may have been limited and confined within the particular rules of particular tribes, but in many ways there was a fluidity, boundarylessness, and an extended sense of expansion and interchange that allowed for large-scale styles to develop. (120)

Europe

 From cave paintings to figurines, Cro-Magnon man expressed himself creatively, especially his interest in hunting and the essence of womanhood. Some cave paintings, thought to be a later endeavor of the Magdalenian period, are now proved to be thirty thousand years old. A newly discovered (1994) cave in Chauvet displays three hundred or more animal images on its walls. "Venus" figurines (small, fire-hardened clay idols of women), although predominant in Gravettian culture, have been found in all periods of Cro-Magnon culture all across Europe. (70)

...in a highly interesting paleolithic hunting station known at Mal'ta, in the Lake Baikal area, a number of flying geese or ducks were found, carved in mammoth ivory. Such flying birds, in fact, have been found in many paleolithic stations...(128)

...in the great paleolithic cavern of Lascaux, in southern France, there is the picture of a shaman dressed in bird costume, lying prostrate in a trance and with the figure of a bird perched on his shaman staff beside him. (128)

Now whereas in the mural paintings of the paleolithic caves animal forms preponderate, the chief subject of interest among the sculptured remains of the same period was the human female; and whereas the comparatively rare figures of men appearing among the painted animals are masked or otherwise modified in such a way as to suggest mythological beings and magical enterprises, the female figurines, carved in bone, stone, or mammoth ivory, are nude, and simply standing. Many are extremely obese, and of these some are radically stylized in a remarkably "modern" manner to give dramatic - and, no doubt, symbolically intended ­ emphasis to the great loins, the pubic triangle, and the nourishing breasts. In contrast to the male forms in the paintings, they are never masked or otherwise modified to suggest animals, while of the hundred and thirty-odd that have been found, only two appear to be clothed in anything like a shamanistic attire. The others simply are. Indeed, a few scholars have interpreted the bold little "Venuses" as paleolithic erotica." But since several have been found set up in shrines, it is now certain that they were the objects of a cult. Without exception, they lack feet, for they were stuck in the ground upright; a few have been discovered actually in situ. And so we can say that in the paleolithic period, just as in the much later age of the early agricultural societies of the Near East, the female body was experienced in its own character as a focus of divine force, and a system of rites was dedicated to its mystery. (128)

The Venus of Lespugue. The most fascinating and tantalizing site of all, however is at Mal'ta, in the Lake Baikal region... Here were found no less than twenty female statuettes of mammoth ivory, from 1 1/4 inches to 5 1/4 inches tall, one represented as though clothed in a cave-lion's skin, the others nude. But in India and the Near East the usual animal-mount of the goddess was the lion; in Egypt, Sekhmet was a lioness; and in the arts both of the Hittites and of the modern Yoruba of Nigeria the goddess stands poised on the lion, nursing her child.

Egyptian life under the Pharaohs seems to have been excessively regimented. By contrast, Minoan Crete is full of dancing and beauty and the swing of the sea seems to be in everything, even the octopus on the pottery. (135)

 

(135)

Photograph taken at an unknown Mayan site in the Yucatan by explorer Teobert Maler of a stone frieze showing a Noah-like figure escaping a deluge, as a volcano erupts and a cyclopean structure collapses. (149)

There are about 390 stones in Ireland known to be engraved with megalithic art. They are all found in passage mounds and, when these are assessable or intact, they have all been shown to be astronomically orientated, which reveals the context in which the art appears. The relationship between the art and astronomy is further reinforced by the presence of engraved sundials, calendars and explicit solar-lunar imagery. (160)

South America

A startling parallelism has been demonstrated between the Pan's pipes of the Solomon Islands in Melanesia and those of the northwest Brazilian Indians. The odd pipes differ, each from the next, by the interval of a fourth. The even pipes give notes half-way in pitch between the adjacent odd ones, and thus form another "circle of fourths." But the similarity does not end here. The absolute pitch of the examined in­ struments from Melanesia and Brazil is the same. Thus, the vibration rates in successive pipes are 557 and 560.5; 651 and 651; 759 and 749; 880 and 879! This is so close a coincidence as to seem at first sight beyond the bounds of accidental convergence. The data have in fact been offered, and in some quarters accepted, as evidence of a historical connection between the western Pacific and South America. Yet the connection would have had to be ancient, since no memory of it remains nor is it supported by resemblances in race, speech, nor anything obvious in culture. The instruments are perishable. Primitive people, working by rule of thumb, would be unable to produce an instrument of given absolute pitch except by matching it against another, and perhaps not then. Moreover, it is not known that absolute pitch is of the least concern to them. It is therefore incredible that this correspondence rests on any ancient diffusion: there must be an error in the record somewhere, or the one accident in a million has happened in the particular instruments examined. (128)

The identity of scale or intervals however remains, and may be a true case of parallelism. Only, as usual, it boils down to a rather simple matter. The circles of fourths evidently originate in the practice, in both regions, of overblowing the pipes. This produces over-tones; of which the second, the "third partial tone," is the fifth above the octave of the fundamental, so that successive notes in either the odd or even series of pipes, would, on the octave being disallowed, differ by fourths. The basis of the resemblance, then, is a physical law of sound. The cultural similarity shrinks to the facts of pipes in series, the use of overblown tones, and the intercalating odd-even series. Even these resemblances are striking, and more specific than many cited cases of parallelism. In fact, were they supported by enough resemblances in other aspects of culture, they would go far to compel belief in actual connections between Melanesia and Brazil. Actually, of course, a multitude of resemblances exist: the use of the blowgun with poisoned arrows; the chewing of lime mixed with a narcotic; a certain technique of weaving, known as ikat weaving; the pounding of bark cloth (tapa); the headhunt with its ceremonial preservation of the taken head; the men's secret society with its contrived spooks and devices for intimidating the women; the dwelling of whole communities in a single house; an architecture on piles; cat's cradle games (string-labyrinth figures) comprising many transformations, each with a name; certain types of fish weir and animal trap, as well as a particular way of catching sea turtles by skewering a line through the tail of a sucker fish and allowing it then to swim out and attach itself to the bottom of a turtle; slit-log drums and a considerable battery of characteristic musical instruments; nude female figurines (guess who!); etc., etc. ad infinitum - not to mention again the bottle-gourd, the coconut, the amaranth, and the weaving ofan Asiatic cotton. (128)

Like a disciple at the feet of his master, I sat on the floor of the sunken temple and looked up at the enigmatic face which all the scholars of Tiahuanaco believed was intended to represent Viracocha. Untold centuries ago, unknown hands had carved this likeness into a tall pillar of red rock. Though now much eroded, it was the likeness of a man at peace with himself. It was the likeness of a man of power... He had a high forehead, and large, round eyes. His nose was straight, narrow at the bridge but flaring towards the nostrils. His lips were full. His distinguishing feature, however, was his stylish and imposing beard, which had the effect of making his face broader at the jaws than at the temples. Looking more closely, I could see that the sculptor had portrayed a man whose skin was shaved all around his lips with the result that his moustache began high on his cheeks, roughly parallel with the end of his nose. From there it curved extravagantly down beside the corners of his mouth, forming an exaggerated goatee at the chin, and then followed his jawline back to his ears. (152)

Above and below the ears, on the side of the head, were carved odd representations of animals. Or perhaps it would be better to describe these carvings as representations of odd animals, because they looked like big, clumsy, prehistoric mammals with fat tails and club feet. There were other points of interest. For example, the stone figure of Viracocha had been sculpted with the hands and arms folded, one below the other, over the front of a long, flowing robe. On each side of this robe appeared the sinuous form of a snake coiling upwards from ground to shoulder level. (152)

Mesoamerica

Both the Egyptians (below) and the Maya (above) chose a winged circle to symbolize the divine in man. In hieroglyphic inscriptions, on the royal cartouches, and on the entranceways of temples, the winged circle appears throughout Egyptian architecture. In Egypt it was originally a pair of falcon wings symbolizing the ethereal, but during the fifth dynasty two serpents and a sun disk were inserted between the wings, representing Horus of Behdet. Although the artistic depiction of the winged circle is slightly different for the ancient Maya and Egyptians, the underlying principles and meaning as well as its representation in art are nearly identical. (70)

There is an Indian game played on a board shaped like a cross, each arm ruled into spaces to make ladders, and the men are moved after casting dice. This very specific game is ancient in India; it was also played in pre-Columbian Mexico and called by a not dissimilar name, patolli. This alone would be convincing evidence of culture contact. The odds against the game having been duplicated by chance have been calculated as between 100,000 and 1,000,000 to l. (135)

Near the top of the 13,000 foot Mexican mountain, Popocatepetl, Charnay, the nineteenth-century French explorer discovered children's graves with wheeled toys in them; wheeled dogs and four-wheeled chariots, some broken, some with their wheels intact. (135)

There have been excavated in Maya territory a large number of cylinder seals, an unusual method of signing, characteristically used by the Sumerians, Akkadians and later used by the Phoenicians. (135)

This is the portrayal of an elephant and mahout on stela Bat Copan. Opponents of the theory of cultural diffusion argue that this is not an elephant but a macaw. (135)

A number of the bearded hook-nosed figures photographed are virtually exact reproductions of Phoenician figures found in the Olmec culture in Mexico. (135)

It is suggested that in Mexico these terra-cotta portraits served statistical purposes, somewhat like identity cards or passport photographs, and anyone who was anyone had to possess one. Over the centuries there were millions of such people. ...these figures failed to give proper weight to the surprising fact that these ancient American artists were acquainted with all the races of the world, proving this beyond any shadow of doubt in their faithful portraiture. Nay more, von Wuthenau argues that no portrait made before 300 BC that he has handled is of an American-Indian but they are all of them at the lower archaeological levels, Mongols, Chinese and early Japanese, Tartars, whites of many kinds especially Semites with and without beards, Negroes and Negro types of every shade. He at once turns to the Mediterranean, pointing out that wherever the Phoenicians went - and they went almost everywhere - these portraits can be found, in Tyre, Carthage, Cyprus, Ibiza and Cadiz. To these he adds Cretan, Mykenaean and Etruscan portraits. Outside the Mediterranean to the west, he points to the West African cultures of Senegal, Chad and the Nok culture of Nigeria. Eastwards from the Mediterranean, he finds them in the Middle East, Iran, Baluchistan; the old ceramics of India, he says, bear many interesting similarities to those of Mexico, and von Wuthenau finds them again also in Java, Siam and old Japan. These are the homes of the sea-people along their sea-routes in the Copper and Bronze Ages which we have already noted from other evidence. The profusion of these terra-cotta portraits in America marks the enormous success of their American colonies which for a time exceeded in wealth, political power and abundance anywhere the sea­kings controlled in the Old World. (135)

At the base of the pyramid [Tollan], to the north and east, were murals depicting jaguars and eagles feasting on human hearts. Immediately behind me were ranged four pillars and four fearsome granite idols each nine feet tall. Their sculptor had given them hard, implacable faces, hooked noses and hollow eyes and they seemed without sympathy or emotion. What interested me most, however, was not so much their ferocious appearance as the objects that they clutched in their hands. As I studied the objects themselves I had the distinct sense that they were meant to represent devices which had originally been made out of metal. The right-hand device, which seemed to emerge from a sheath or hand-guard, was lozenge-shaped with a curved lower edge. The left-hand device could have been an instrument or weapon of some kind. I remembered legends which related that the gods of ancient Mexico had armed themselves with xiuhcoatl, 'fire serpents'. These apparently emitted burning rays capable of piercing and dismembering human bodies. Was it 'fire serpents' that the Tula idols were holding? Whatever they were, both devices looked like pieces of technology. And both in certain ways resembled the equally mysterious objects in the hands of the idols in the Kalasasaya at Tiahuanaco. (152)

 

 

 

 

 

At Monte Alban...there seemed to be carved in stone a record of the downfall of these masterful men. It did not look as if this could have been the work of the same people who made the La Venta sculptures. The standard of craftsmanship was far too low for that. But what was certain - whoever they were, and however inferior their work - was that these artists had attempted to portray the same negroid subjects and the same goatee- bearded Caucasians as I had seen at La Venta. There the sculptures had reflected strength, power and vitality. Here at Monte Alban the remarkable strangers were corpses. All were naked, most were castrated, some were curled up in foetal positions as though to avoid showers of blows, others lay sprawled slackly. (152)



To the left of the hieroglyphs, let into the huge flagstones of the temple floor, was a steep descending internal stairway. This led to a room buried deep in the bowels of the pyramid, where the tomb of Lord Pacal lay [Palenque]. The sarcophagus, set into the floor of the tomb, had a curious shape, flared strikingly at the feet like an Ancient Egyptian mummy case. Rectangular in shape, the heavy stone lid of the sarcophagus was ten inches thick, three feet wide and twelve and a half feet long. It, too, seemed to have been modelled on the same original as the magnificent engraved blocks the Ancient Egyptians had used for this exact purpose. Indeed, it would not have looked out of place in the Valley of the Kings. But there was one major difference. The scene carved on top of the sarcophagus lid was unlike anything that ever came out of Egypt. Lit in my torch beam, it showed a clean-shaven man dressed in what looked like a tight-fitting body-suit, the sleeves and leggings of which were gathered into elaborate cuffs at the wrists and ankles. The man lay semi-reclined in a bucket seat which supported his lower back and thighs, the nape of his neck resting comfortably against some kind of headrest, and he was peering forward intently. His hands seemed to be in motion, as though they were operating levers and controls, and his feet were bare, tucked up loosely in front of him. ...a tiny jade statuette was found lying close to the skeleton inside the sarcophagus, and it appeared to be much older than the other grave-goods also placed there. It depicted an elderly Caucasian, dressed in long robes, with a goatee beard. (152)

Diverging from the base, and working our way through the thick woods, we came upon a square stone column, about fourteen feet high and three feet on each side, sculptured in very bold relief, and on all four of the sides, from the base to the top. The front was the figure of a man curiously and richly dressed, and the face, evidently a portrait, solemn, stern, and well fitted to excite terror. The back was of a different design, unlike anything we had ever seen before, and the sides were covered with hieroglyphics. This our guide called an "Idol;" and before it, at a distance of three feet, was a large block of stone, also sculptured with figures and emblematical devices, which he called an altar. The sight of this unexpected monument put at rest at once and forever, in our minds, all uncertainty in regard to the character of American antiquities, and gave us the assurance that the objects we were in search of were interesting, not only as the remains of an unknown people, but as works of art, proving, like newly-discovered historical records, that the people who once occupied the Continent of America were not savages. (163)

Each side represents four individuals. On the west side are the two principal personages, chiefs or warriors, with their faces opposite each other, and apparently engaged in argument or negotiation. The other fourteen are divided into two equal parties, and seem to be following their leaders. Each of the two principal figures is seated cross-legged, in the Oriental fashion, on a hieroglyphic which probably designates his name and office, or character, and on three of which the serpent forms part. Between the two principal personages is a remarkable cartouche, containing two hieroglyphics well preserved, which reminded us strongly of the Egyptian method of giving the names of the kings or heroes in whose honour monuments were erected. The headdresses are remarkable for their curious and complicated form; the figures have all breastplates, and one of the two principal characters holds in his hand an instrument, which may, perhaps, be considered a sceptre. Each of the others holds an object which can be only a subject for speculation and conjecture. It may be a weapon of war, and, if so, it is the only thing of the kind found represented at Copan. (163)

So there it is: a non-dateable solid quartz crystal human skull [the Mitchell-Hedges Crsytal Skull], with prisms and ribbons "carved" on the inside of the skull, which in turn is "carved" from a single piece of quartz with a lapidary skill not possessed today, found in an ancient Mayan site, for which no explanation exists coming from that society. (164)

North America

...the Southwest (North American) archaeological record is one of considerable beauty. Southwestern ceramics, for example, are extraordinary both for their elegance and their reflection of sociopolitical and mythological themes. (53)

Other

When the first modern Europeans arrived in the Canary Islands during the early fourteenth century, they were surprised by the physical characteristics of its Guanche inhabitants, which were not too different from those of white populations in the southern regions of the Mediterranean. Investigators of the nineteenth century were further surprised by the similarity between the forty-thousand-year-old skeleton of Cro-Magnon man found in Dordogne, France, and remains of the Guanches. Some researchers believe the similarities were not only physical, but also cultural, as evidenced by the Guanche cave paintings at Galdar, Belmaco, Parque Cultural La Zarza, and Los Letreros caves, for example. As did Cro-Magnon cultures, the Guanche painted caves with zigzags, squares, and spiral symbols using red and black paint. The Guanche continued the practice of cave painting until the fourteenth century. (70)

Frequently taking as his example the Ch'an or Zen art of China and Japan, Coomaraswamy notes that the art of the east is "ideally" determined, not in the popular sense of sentimental or romantic idealization, but in the mathematical sense. It reveals the operation rather than the appearance of Nature, "the operation of spirit in life-movement" (Hsieh Ho). Personal feelings and passions are out of place; the oriental artist strives instead for a complete identification with his theme, a pure absorption acquired by techniques of mental discipline that are rooted in both ancient Taoism and the yoga practices of India. Often playful and humorous, this intuitive or "mystical" Asiatic art invites the viewer as well as the creator to experience the workings of the spirit in the natural world, the artist through his subject, the observer through the painting itself. Neither experience is possible, however, until the mental and affective barriers to the perception of truth are dissolved, until "all knots of the heart are undone." Oriental art is therefore a means of self-transcendence for both creator and critic, and in this sense an initiatory vehicle of great age. (115)

Words cannot express the degree of similarity between early Valdivia and contemporary Jomon pottery...Not only techniques of incision but motifs and combinations of motifs are the same. In most categories of decorative technique examples can be found so similar in appearance that they might almost have come from the same vessel. (124)

A startling parallelism has been demonstrated between the Pan's pipes of the Solomon Islands in Melanesia and those of the northwest Brazilian Indians. The odd pipes differ, each from the next, by the interval of a fourth. The even pipes give notes half-way in pitch between the adjacent odd ones, and thus form another "circle of fourths." But the similarity does not end here. The absolute pitch of the examined in­ struments from Melanesia and Brazil is the same. Thus, the vibration rates in successive pipes are 557 and 560.5; 651 and 651; 759 and 749; 880 and 879! This is so close a coincidence as to seem at first sight beyond the bounds of accidental convergence. The data have in fact been offered, and in some quarters accepted, as evidence of a historical connection between the western Pacific and South America. Yet the connection would have had to be ancient, since no memory of it remains nor is it supported by resemblances in race, speech, nor anything obvious in culture. The instruments are perishable. Primitive people, working by rule of thumb, would be unable to produce an instrument of given absolute pitch except by matching it against another, and perhaps not then. Moreover, it is not known that absolute pitch is of the least concern to them. It is therefore incredible that this correspondence rests on any ancient diffusion: there must be an error in the record somewhere, or the one accident in a million has happened in the particular instruments examined. (128)

The identity of scale or intervals however remains, and may be a true case of parallelism. Only, as usual, it boils down to a rather simple matter. The circles of fourths evidently originate in the practice, in both regions, of overblowing the pipes. This produces over-tones; of which the second, the "third partial tone," is the fifth above the octave of the fundamental, so that successive notes in either the odd or even series of pipes, would, on the octave being disallowed, differ by fourths. The basis of the resemblance, then, is a physical law of sound. The cultural similarity shrinks to the facts of pipes in series, the use of overblown tones, and the intercalating odd-even series. Even these resemblances are striking, and more specific than many cited cases of parallelism. In fact, were they supported by enough resemblances in other aspects of culture, they would go far to compel belief in actual connections between Melanesia and Brazil. Actually, of course, a multitude of resemblances exist: the use of the blowgun with poisoned arrows; the chewing of lime mixed with a narcotic; a certain technique of weaving, known as ikat weaving; the pounding of bark cloth (tapa); the headhunt with its ceremonial preservation of the taken head; the men's secret society with its contrived spooks and devices for intimidating the women; the dwelling of whole communities in a single house; an architecture on piles; cat's cradle games (string-labyrinth figures) comprising many transformations, each with a name; certain types of fish weir and animal trap, as well as a particular way of catching sea turtles by skewering a line through the tail of a sucker fish and allowing it then to swim out and attach itself to the bottom of a turtle; slit-log drums and a considerable battery of characteristic musical instruments; nude female figurines (guess who!); etc., etc. ad infinitum - not to mention again the bottle-gourd, the coconut, the amaranth, and the weaving ofan Asiatic cotton. (128)

The giant stone heads staring out over the island and the sea are the most celebrated feature of the island. These stone figures have long ears, red topknots, but seem to have no backs to their heads. It is worth recalling that head deformation was a characteristic of many of the sea-peoples, a custom copied by leading families in America which had also been practised on Easter Island. The heads rested on platforms which apparently were known as ahu platforms. Red hair was a characteristic of the Egyptian Set and some of the most travelled sea-people. Ra, the Egyptian name for their sun-god, was also the name for the Easter Island sun-god and for the Polynesian sun-god. (135)

He then discusses musical instruments, especially a bow of one string without resonator, called koh-lo in Tehuelche (America) and kolore among the Solomon Islanders. Then there is the strange nose-flute, a flute played through one nostril in eastern Polynesia, also found in America and also among the Brahman of India and Indonesia. The panpipe, the gourd whistle and up-turned flute are cited as instruments common to America and Polynesia, also the single-note trumpet, the carved wooden flageolets, distinctive drums and the gourd rattle. (135)