Art & Music around 6,000 BC

The Globe

The first evidence that Stone Age humans used gold is linked to sites that date from around 6000 BC. But gold is a soft, malleable metal that can be worked with simple tools. It can be found in pure nugget form, though even very early gold artifacts such as jewelry, bracelets, and rings are rarely pure; most contain significant silver content. The ancients called this alloy electrum. (The Genesis Race)

Africa

A hurly-burly of folk movements, new technologies, mythological orientations, and vivid art forms now breaks upon the scene, and we are at the opening of a new age. The bow and arrow have appeared, the hunting dog, and an art of rock painting alive with vivid little forms: bowmen hunting and fighting, ritual scenes, dancers, sacrificial scenes. Whereas the paintings of the caves specialized in the forms of the animals of the hunt, here we discover a lively dance of human figures in a wonderfully vivid stickman style, developed with a sense for the composition of scenes and the rendition of movement. And whereas the art of the caves gave the magical, timeless atmosphere of the realm of myth, the happy hunting ground of eternity, and the operations therein of the archetypal shamans, here we have an atmosphere of life on earth and the ritual acts of living communities. We note, too, that women are prominent in the scenes, with elegantly rendered ample hips and legs, and willowy bodies, gracefully poised. The scenes are vibrant with the rhythms of the concerted action of groups. Not the shaman now, but the group is the vehicle of the holy power. The heartland of this new style was the grassy hunting ground of North Africa, where today there is only desert, and the type station is Capsa (Gafsa) in Tunisia.(Primitive Mythology)

Rock art dating to 5000 BC corroborates what the radar equipment revealed. In Libya, Egypt, and Mali, petroglyphs depict not only grazing animals, but also aquatic life such as crocodiles. This indicates that the desert was inhabited during a time prior to 4000 BC and as far back as 8000 BC, when the climate was wet. (Before the Pharaohs)

Southwest Asia

The first major period of occupation at 'Ain Ghazal began at about 7,200 BC and it was pobably occupied  most or all of the time until about 5,000 BC. Covering approximately 30 acres, 'Ain Ghazal is about three times larger than Jericho, but it is unclear how much of the site was occupied at any one time. For its early age, the community of 'Ain Ghazal has impressive art. Large plaster figures of people were found under house floors. Numerous figures of people and and animals have been unearthed, and in one cache two clay figures of cattle had flint blades stuck into their heads, necks, and chests.(Patterns in Prehistory)

A large collection of stone statuettes [at Catal Huyuk] had no counterpart in contemporary sites. This regal male in white marble at is one of those resembling the Cycladic sculpture of the Bronze Age. (Plato Prehistorian)

In spite of the many murals, Catal shrine walls were usually plain white, with accents of red limited to the plastered timbers and occasional grooves and niches. All interiors apparently were replastered at least once a year; individual paintings may have been plastered over as soon as their ritual function was complete. The same wall might then be repainted with a different composition at a later time, with many layers of white plaster accumulating between the two. The range of pigments used by the Catal artists was unmatched in the Near East (although equaled or surpassed in the Round Head art of the Sahara); azurite, malachite, manganese, and galena gave shades of purple, yellow, brown, blue, and black, in addition to the reds, oranges, and pinks of ochre, haematite, and cinnabar. (Plato Prehistorian)


Border designs reminiscent of stitching on two of the geometric murals at Catal Huyuk, together with the skill shown in the weaving of the burial shrouds, led Mellaart to conclude that kilims, the colorful woven mats found today in Turkey, were already being made on the Konya plain as early as the seventh millennium BC, and that these Catal murals were inspired by kilim designs rather than the reverse. (Plato Prehistorian)

A convergence of foreign cults is further implied by the stylistic diversity of the Catal statuettes. Not only do these figures evoke deities later associated with the Aegean, Iran, and Egypt, but they were sculpted in very different styles, none of which had much in common with the Catal home style. (Plato Prehistorian)

 

Level VII saw the first identifiable leopards in relief at Catal Huyuk, although an ill-preserved pair of heraldic animals at VIII may also have been of this species. Those pictured above are from the Level VI Leopard Shrine. They had been decorated many times over, first with black rosettes on a white background, then by several applications of lemon yellow with black spots, and finally covered with several layers of whitewash. Their position face to face again presents the image of related but opposing forces. Numerous offerings of grain were found on the platform in front of the leopards, along with a basalt statuette of a mature female figure (in black stone, about six inches high) that Mellaart saw as a possible prototype of Demeter, the Greek goddess of grain. (Plato Prehistorian)

Detail from the west wall of the Hunting Shrine at Level V [Catal Huyuk], showing individually characterized, bearded men in leopard skins teasing a stag. (Plato Prehistorian)

The tails of leopards or lions extend up the back and over the shoulders of the seated female at right, recovered from Level II. Presumably the portrayal of a goddess, this clay figurine is the first recorded example of a type known in later traditions as the Mistress of the Animals. No less widely celebrated than the Master of the Animals, the Mistress was largely identified with the Mountain Mothers of antiquity. Lions and leopards were especially consecrated to Kybele; Rhea is often shown seated between two lions in Greek statuary. It is perhaps not important which name she bore at Catal Huyuk. Rhea, Kybele, and such regional counterparts as the Cappadocian Ma are believed by many scholars to have been one and the same goddess, a deity of the pre-Greek populations of the Aegean and Anatolia. (Plato Prehistorian)

The veiled goddess. Relief construction from east wall of Catal Shrine VII.23, painted in black, red, and yellow on a white ground. Height approx. two feet. (Plato Prehistorian)

But the identification of these stone figures is less important at this point than the recognition of the stylistic diversity of Catal sculpture as a whole. Even the statuettes placed together in a single shrine such as VI.10 often seem artistically unrelated, a phenomenon which Mellaart found doubly curious in light of the presence of a definite Catal style in wall decoration. The suggestion made earlier, that these disparate pieces had been brought into the shrines of Catal Huyuk with an influx of foreign cults, is no less plausible now that some fraction of the variety of symbolic forms at this site has been explored. But another factor to be considered is the condition of some of these statuettes. Several were described as "already old, worn, and broken" when recovered by the excavators; the younger female in the triad with leopards had been mended at least once. Mellaart believes that some of these figures may have been considerably older than the context in which they were found. (Plato Prehistorian)

Where, then, had they originated, these old and worn heirlooms" that often bear a striking resemblance to personages in the earliest known stratum of Aegean mythology? Were they, or models from which they had been copied, possibly an inheritance from Plato's vanished Greek cultures? In the Near East, the only earlier recorded examples of human figures carved in stone belonged to the Natufians of Palestine and the inhabitants of Mureybet III (where rather crude stone figurines accompanied the clay maiden-goddess), both of which peoples were earlier credited with possible Aegean connections. But if some part of the Catal stone statuary was indeed a Greek legacy, one wonders where the tradition had been preserved during the centuries following the post-war floods. (Plato Prehistorian)

It is also possible that the interaction of the Seven and the Twelve, the planets and the constellations, was the subject of a second painting at Catal Huyuk, this time from Level VII . As Mellaart described Shrine VII.8 (which had earlier housed a vulture mural): “The main panel in the southwest corner shows two rows of hands with the fingers pointing towards the right, framing a pattern of alternate red and black geometric "ladders and squiggles," not unlike some of the net pattern found on the goddess in Shrine VII.23 [the veiled goddess], and perhaps likewise of textile origin. Seven red hands line the bottom of the panel and twelve alternate red and black hands the top…” Moreover, the netlike pattern of weaving between these rows of seven and twelve hands at Catal Huyuk is itself a traditional symbol for the connections between the heavenly bodies. If a similar design appeared in first millennium Mesopotamia, there would be no question of its zodiacal connotations. (Plato Prehistorian)

Mellaart's description of this new era in Anatolia, known as Early Chalcolithic, expresses the magnitude of a change that was almost universal: “Technologically, painted pottery, usually red on cream with lighter coloured monochrome and plain wares, replaces the dark burnished ware... Copper occurs, but still mainly for trinkets, such as beads and pins. Figurines are preferably made of clay rather than stone. The date of its beginning is roughly the middle of the sixth millennium in carbon-14 terms.” …when mid-sixth-millennium carbon-14 dates are corrected to calendar time, the dawn of this new impulse will be dated to approximately 65/6300 BC. (Plato Prehistorian)


During the last half of the sixth millennium BC, the influence of the Halafian culture spread from Mesopotamia and the Iranian frontiers westward to Syria, parts of Anatolia, and possibly Greece. The vessel above is a hand-built product of the Halafian potters at Arpachiyah (Iraq) whose skillfully fired ceramics far surpassed the later wheel-made pottery of Babylonia. Framed by checkered patterns or bands of light and dark triangles, the centerpieces of these shallow bowls usually form either a multipetaled rosette or some variation of the cross. (Plato Prehistorian)

...at Catal Huyuk, circa 6500 BC, ceramic wares suddenly appear, and, as the excavator, Dr. James Mellaart, observes: "we can actually study the transition from an aceramic Neolithic with baskets and wooden vessels to a ceramic Neolithic with the first pottery." Along with this pottery, furthermore, which is the earliest yet discovered anywhere, there have also come to light the earliest known neolithic figurines, in association with some forty or more symbolically ornamented chapels - revealing, in superb display, practically all the basic motifs of the great mother-goddess mythologies of later ages. And these earliest known neolithic figurines are of an easy, natural, lifelike grace, not the least "archaic," primitive, or stilted. (Primitive Mythology)

Egypt

Rock art dating to 5000 BC corroborates what the radar equipment revealed. In Libya, Egypt, and Mali, petroglyphs depict not only grazing animals, but also aquatic life such as crocodiles. This indicates that the desert was inhabited during a time prior to 4000 BC and as far back as 8000 BC, when the climate was wet. (Before the Pharaohs)

Indus Valley

 

China

 

Europe

Marble figurine from Knossos, Crete early sixth millennium BC. Height three and one half inches. In the following levels at Knossos rectangular dwellings were constructed of kiln-fired bricks, an unexpected and unprecedented building material that was later replaced by pise. A fragmented clay female figurine has also been recorded, but the most remarkable find in Knossos' first three strata was an exceptional1y fine marble statuette of a youthful male figure, the earliest known example of an Aegean type later to be known as the kouros. (Plato Prehistorian)

South America

 

Mesomerica

 

North America

 

Other

Another example of historians radically misdating and misattributing inventions, ideas and icons concerns the classic curved jewel of the Japanese nobility - the comma-shaped (or foetus-shaped?) magatama, often carved from jade. References to magatama in Japan's national epic, the Nihon Shoki, which was compiled at the end of the seventh century AD, and the frequent finds of magatama in archaeological sites of that period have led most Japanese to an unquestioned assumption that the magatama is an invention of the so-called 'Yayoi' and 'Kofun' periods, roughly from 300 BC to AD 800. Yet on my travels through Japan archaeologists showed me dozens of beautiful magatama from Jomon times, some of them more than 8000 years old. (Underworld)