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Art & Music                   7,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

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.(128)

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. (70)

 


The following phase in the Sahara, the Round Head paintings, shows little relationship to the animal engravings. In fact, the leader of the Tassili expedition, Henri Lhote, found the Round Head art so different from traditional forms of prehistoric art that "we felt we were moving about in a world that bore no relation to any other, a world apart." Many hundreds of these remarkable compositions have yet to be published, but already famous are the depictions of beings whimsically named "Martians" by Lhote. The painting from Sefar is typical of these portrayals; here several round-headed women seem to be in a sort of procession, hands raised in supplication to a huge central figure over ten feet high. Similar representations of these enormous beings appear at Jabbaren, a name which, as it means "the Giants,” apparently was derived from the paintings. (115)

Not all of these works portray monstrous beings. Late in the Round Head period at Aouanrhet an exceptionally beautiful scene includes the silhouette of a woman running or dancing, with fringes falling from her knees, belt, and outstretched arms. Horns extend horizontally from either side of her head: a dotted area above was very tentatively interpreted as a cloud of grain falling from a wheat field. Her discoverers felt that this magnificent figure must have been either a goddess or a priestess, and saw a possible relationship to the Egyptian deity Isis, who, with Osiris, is credited in myth with introducing grain cultivation into the Nile valley. Mori believes that the Round Head series began very early and ended before the seventh millennium BC; others think it may have extended into the sixth millennium; in either case Lhote's estimation that the Round Head period as a whole must have lasted for several thousand years would indicate at least an eighth or ninth millennium beginning for the series. (115)

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.(27)

 
Plastered and painted skulls from Tell Aswan Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, late eighth or seventh millennium BC. Believed to be evidence of ancestor worship, these skulls were given a lifelike appearance by the modeling of flesh and features with plaster, which was then painted with a red-brown color. Individual human skulls had been preserved in Near Eastern sites as early as Ain Mallaha and again in the walled PPNA phase at Jericho, but this custom was carried to its most elaborate extreme at Jericho PPNB, where the faces and features of several male skulls had been reconstructed with plaster and paint, complete with a black moustache on one individua1. (115)

Most remarkable of all, however, were Ganj Dareh's clay vessels. These ranged in size from thick-walled storage jars of over a hundred liter capacity, to "bread bowls" and even miniature goblets. The excavator believes that the larger containers were probably only sun-baked, but the smaller ones, including one vase made of two hemispheres joined together, evidently had been fired. Small animal figurines, one depicting a bearded goat were also modeled in clay at Ganj Dareh, as were miniature geometric forms: spheres, cones, pyramids. (115)

Jarmo's tool kit (largely microlithic) and carved stone “bracelets" have been compared to those of Alikosh, but the settlers of Jarmo built multi-roomed, tauf-walled structures and at least one stone foundation complex that resembles miniature version of Cayonu's Grill Plan. And it is here that the stone bowl industry that distinguished the Zagros villages of this epoch is displayed at its best. Cups, bowls, and dishes were characterized by finely polished thin walls, crisp profiles, and a variety of treatments of the lip. Primarily marble or alabaster, the stone used in these vessels had been selected and worked so that its natural veining gave a decorative effect to the finished product. Investigators have expressed surprise at this very high level of craftsmanship, further noting that "mere usefulness does not furnish an adequate explanation for the tremendous elaboration that the stone bowls underwent." Phallic images were also fashioned from stone at Jarmo; a central drilling suggests that they had been mounted on small sticks, presumably for ceremonial use. (115)

Clay male and female figurines from Tepe Sarab, Iran, early sixth millennium BC. (115)

The carved stone phalli in Zagros assemblages, while not typical of Crete, were elsewhere patently Dionysian; the cult vessel, the kantharos, was the special property of that god. Of the toys most often named as those offered to Zagreus by the Titans, several were present in Zagros sites. Knucklebones were at Jarmo, seen as game pieces by the excavators; a "jointed doll" is an accurate description of the pegged-together female figurines at Tepe Sarab; and as for the mirror, we shall find magnificently crafted obsidian mirrors among the shrines of contemporary Catal Huyuk, where the earlier-mentioned stone statuette of the child-god on a leopard is one of that site's many analogues to Cretan deities. (115)

…the more surprising aspect of Umm Dabaghiyah's faunal sample was the very high percentage (68%) of the bones of the wild ass. It seems that the primary purpose of this settlement, and that for which it presumably was founded, was the capture of this desert and steppe-dwelling animal. The wild ass dominated the art of Umm Dabaghiyah as well. The several wall paintings recovered at this site have been compared to those of contemporary Catal Huyuk, but the majority of the murals preserved at Umm Dabaghiyah portray the wild ass. With small clay forms of this animal also applied in relief to ceramic containers, a more-than-economic valuation of the wild ass seems certain. (115)

By the seventh millennium BC, the Near Eastern arc of civilization was teeming with clay or pottery cultures, which produced great numbers of utensils, ornaments, and statuettes. (146)

Because of the abundance of these slightly baked clay images, it was possible to conclude that the Jarmo people had paid particular attention to the environment around them... Among them were a variety of animal forms, such as bears, goats, pigs and sheep. Nearly all of the human figurines were heads only, even though Morales surmised that many of them would originally have been attached to bodies made of a perishable material. Most of the heads were of a conventional shape and form, and may well have been representations of individuals in the community. Some, however, seemed infinitely stranger. They portrayed long tapered or diamond-shaped faces, with thin lips and pointed jaws, unlike any human around today. Their eyes, too, were strange. They were made of pinched pellets of clay that gave the impression of closed or slit-like eyes, like those of east Asian racial types. One figurine in particular depicted a seemingly bald-headed individual with extremely long facial features, high cheek-bones, a long jaw and incised, elliptical eyes. ...these images 'resemble markedly the head of the "lizard" goddess figures of the Ubaid period'. (149)

The differences in chronology between the Jarmo heads and the 'Ubaid figurines suggest that this distinctive form of serpentine art had developed in the highlands of Kurdistan as early as 6750 BC before being transferred on to the Iraqi plains around 5000 BC. The snake had been a major feature among the religious practices of ancient Mesopotamia, where it was identified with divine wisdom, sexual energy and guardianship over other­worldly domains. (149)

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. (70)

Indus Valley 

...twenty-five miles off the coast of Gujurat, India. The discovery took place in that part of the Arabian Sea known as the Gulf of Cambay. India's National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) turned up some amazing sonar images from the gulf's depths while scanning for pollution levels. Using equipment that penetrates the sea floor, marine experts discovered a pattern of distinct, man-made formations across a five-mile stretch of seabed.

According to reports published worldwide, NIOT's sonar-imaging technology detected what appeared to be the stone pillars and collapsed walls of at least two cities. The site was described as part of an ancient river valley civilization not unlike the River Saraswati of the Rig Veda, thought to be mythical but--according to recent independent findings by Indian scientists--has been proved to have flowed to Gujurat. Divers at the Gulf of Cambay site later retrieved from depths of 120 feet two thousand man-made artifacts, including pottery, jewelry, sculpture, human bones, and evidence of writing, according to The Times of London.

…in January 2002, carbon dating revealed that an artifact from the site was astonishingly ancient, between 8,500 and 9,500 years old (the oldest known civilization in the world by thousands of years. This was a time when, according to orthodox archeological standards, India should have been peopled with primitive hunter-gatherers and a few settlements, not the inhabitants of a lost civilization. (56)

China

 

Europe

 

South America

 

Mesoamerica

 

North America

 

Other