In search of the Palaeo shaman

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

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Ishtar
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Post by Ishtar » Fri May 16, 2008 7:51 am

Minimalist wrote:
The hand print is the most ubiquitous symbol of shamanic ritualism worldwide
It is also the mark of clumsy concrete workers, Ish.
I'm not sure if this one is shamanic, Min. What do you think?

Image

:lol:

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Post by Minimalist » Fri May 16, 2008 7:53 am

Must be....that or early Frat house.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Post by kbs2244 » Fri May 16, 2008 10:35 am

Importance of touching?

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Post by Ishtar » Fri May 16, 2008 11:59 am

Hi KB

Not sure what your question refers to, but I'll have a go:

In the case of the San, the hand prints were about getting power from the blood of the eland. But tactile interaction with walls generally is a feature of palaeolithic art that finds its way into the later Neolithic cult structures. There is the continual plastering and replastering of the walls, and the bulls that appear to be emerging through them, during ritualistic ceremonies (Catal Hoyuk), and constantly moving the walls around and building new ones (Gobekli Tepe).

So how they interacted with the walls was pivotal to these ritualistic ceremonies.

I believe, as do others, that they saw the walls as membranes, or a veil, between the seen (this reality) and the unseen (the other reality).

The word 'draw' can have two meanings. You can just draw something with a pencil in the normal way. Or you can also draw something towards you. So ancient man would often use the natural contours or crevices of the rock in which, it seems, to draw through an animal (possibly their power animal) that they could see, when in an altered state, emerging through it. It is as if they have painted to enhance that image, rather than to create it from scratch, to pull or draw the animal through the membrane.

Here are some examples from Lascaux where they have enhanced the natural formation and features of the rocks to draw out the facial features.

Image

Image

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Post by kbs2244 » Fri May 16, 2008 5:56 pm

Good point on the word “draw”
I was a little more into the frat house idea on the “touching” post,
But your point is well taken.
I do recall that there was some argument, based on right hand vs. left hand images, that kind of dismissed the whole hand images in cave painting thing as a bunch of drunken adolescents phenomenon instead of a serious adult thing.
It had something to do with which hand was easier to hold up against the wall and blow the paint around.
But some of your posts show both hands?

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Post by Ishtar » Fri May 16, 2008 9:18 pm

kbs2244 wrote: I do recall that there was some argument, based on right hand vs. left hand images, that kind of dismissed the whole hand images in cave painting thing as a bunch of drunken adolescents phenomenon instead of a serious adult thing.
It had something to do with which hand was easier to hold up against the wall and blow the paint around.
I'd say that the above is a prime example of us trying to assess ancient man's behaviour on how our own teenagers behave on a Saturday night. :lol:

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Post by Ishtar » Fri May 16, 2008 9:57 pm

kbs2244 wrote:Good point on the word “draw”
Obviously, this is just our word for gaining a likeness ... it wouldn't have been theirs.

But I was prompted to look up the etymology of the word 'draw' and here it is from the Online Etymological Dictionary:
O.E. dragan "to drag, to draw" (class VI strong verb; past tense drog, pp. dragen), from P.Gmc. *draganan "carry," from PIE base *dhragh- (see drag).
So it is based on the Old English 'drag', from Proto Germanic 'carry' which is based on the Proto Indo European word 'dhragh'.

'Drag' and 'carry' are not so far from draw through - the idea of bringing something from one place and putting it another, except that 'draw' has the extra 'attraction' bit, like drawing towards one.

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Post by kbs2244 » Sat May 17, 2008 9:42 am

Or drawing strength from.

One the Saturday night drunken boys thing, I think their point was to differencing the hand outlines from the finer artwork.
Kind of like street graffiti vs. The Art Museum.

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Post by Ishtar » Sat May 17, 2008 11:03 am

Yeah... but dats da point eye's a tryen' to mek, KB. Dis ain't no art museum, man. 8)

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Post by Ishtar » Sun May 18, 2008 2:40 pm

Another way of identifying whether a culture was shamanic is by its cosmology. The shaman crosses between three worlds - the upper, lower and middle world. So paintings, sculptures, design of megaliths and buildings, as well as mythological tales that are based on these three dimensions must have begun life in a shamanic setting, or at least in a society where the shamanic three worlds were still the accepted norm.

In terms of mythology, the Vedas is a prime contender here. The Vedic cosmology consists of the upper planets, this world and the lower planets, and all the stories are set against this backdrop with characters sometimes traversing all three in the space of one story.

Another example are the Norse legends recorded in the Edda - there are nine worlds, but these are divided into three above, three in the middle and three below.

One of the most famous Sumerian myths is about Ishtar's descent to the Underworld because of the death of the Bull of the Heaven. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh's friend kills the Bull of Heaven and is sent to the underworld as punishment. Obviously 'heaven' is just a recent translation - an is the Sumerian word for the upper worlds.

All the Celtic/Irish/Welsh myths have a fairy or sidhe underworld that is populated with not just the little people but also with animals that can talk, just like shamanic power animals. The Celtic underworld also has a timeless quality, just like the altered reality of the shaman that is beyond time.

I'm sure there are other cultures that have the three worlds, or three sets of planets - in fact, I think they pretty well all did until relatively recently - when the Christians turned the underworld into hell and the upper worlds into heaven. They also turned the three worlds into somewhere you went when you died, and no longer somewhere you could go to now.

So it's only since the rejection of Christianity, or at least the advent of materialism and agnosticism of the West, that our inner, mental cosmology has to change to a flatter, one dimensional space, whereas our ancestors, going back for millennia, had a multi -layered one. In evolutionary terms, I think that's quite a jump to have to make, mentally... but anyway, that's not the point of this post.

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Post by john » Sun May 18, 2008 4:26 pm

Ishtar wrote:Another way of identifying whether a culture was shamanic is by its cosmology. The shaman crosses between three worlds - the upper, lower and middle world. So paintings, sculptures, design of megaliths and buildings, as well as mythological tales that are based on these three dimensions must have begun life in a shamanic setting, or at least in a society where the shamanic three worlds were still the accepted norm.

In terms of mythology, the Vedas is a prime contender here. The Vedic cosmology consists of the upper planets, this world and the lower planets, and all the stories are set against this backdrop with characters sometimes traversing all three in the space of one story.

Another example are the Norse legends recorded in the Edda - there are nine worlds, but these are divided into three above, three in the middle and three below.

One of the most famous Sumerian myths is about Ishtar's descent to the Underworld because of the death of the Bull of the Heaven. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh's friend kills the Bull of Heaven and is sent to the underworld as punishment. Obviously 'heaven' is just a recent translation - an is the Sumerian word for the upper worlds.

All the Celtic/Irish/Welsh myths have a fairy or sidhe underworld that is populated with not just the little people but also with animals that can talk, just like shamanic power animals. The Celtic underworld also has a timeless quality, just like the altered reality of the shaman that is beyond time.

I'm sure there are other cultures that have the three worlds, or three sets of planets - in fact, I think they pretty well all did until relatively recently - when the Christians turned the underworld into hell and the upper worlds into heaven. They also turned the three worlds into somewhere you went when you died, and no longer somewhere you could go to now.

So it's only since the rejection of Christianity, or at least the advent of materialism and agnosticism of the West, that our inner, mental cosmology has to change to a flatter, one dimensional space, whereas our ancestors, going back for millennia, had a multi -layered one. In evolutionary terms, I think that's quite a jump to have to make, mentally... but anyway, that's not the point of this post.
Ishtar -

Don't forget the Hopi.

The interesting thing is that there is an entire

Migration cycle attached................


hoka hey


jphn
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Mark Twain

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Post by Ishtar » Sun May 18, 2008 10:09 pm

Yes, John ... in fact, I'd wouldn't be surprised if all Native Americans had the three dimensions. And I forgot the Greeks - with Pluto as Lord of the Underworld and the gods in the upper world. The stories of Persephone/Demeter and Orpheus/Euredice are both Underworld stories.

That's partly why I think the Trojan legends (being discussed in the other thread) could be, at least partly, based on historical fact. There are no three worlds in those stories - just this one.

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Post by Ishtar » Tue May 20, 2008 4:05 am

Palaeolithic cave paintings thought to be of a shamanic/ritual nature were found in the Shulgan Tash caves of the Urals in Russia in the late Nineties. They include an anthropomorphic figure painted in red ochre and similar in type to the Sorceror of Lascaux.

Image

http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/vol18/pa05.pdf
Inside this legendary cave a 16–17 millennia old cultural layer containing Palaeolithic stone tools, a primitive clay lamp, stone bowl, a stone with remnants of painting fallen from the wall, numerous pieces of charcoal and ochre have been discovered …

The southeastern wall of the Chaos Hall is tilted inward. Above a gap running downwards from the heap of stones between the slanting wall and the floor there is an extensive mural, where one can clearly distinguish an about 35 cm high bright red anthropomorphic figure with zoomorphic features.

This single anthropomorphic painting of the Shulgan Tash cave is depicted in profile, bending and its triangular head resembles a mammoth head. Some authors argue that the figure’s legs, as it were, remind those of horses and that it has a short tail (ŠFelinskij & Širokov 1999: 60).

Above the anthropomorph there lies an animal figure, which was damaged in the attempt to restore it in the 1970s and is no longer identifiable. Under the figure there are numerous red and brownish geometrical markings, including trapezoidal, triangular and ladder-like figures and various lines and streaks, partly covered by a calcite layer.

More than 50 prehistoric representations have been discovered in the Shulgan Tash cave so far….

A. Filippov and V. Kotov have attempted to clarify the mythological background behind the cave art of Shulgan Tash. According to Filippov these are ritual attributes, evidenced by the same orientation of all animal figures in the whole cave, from the Painting Hall through the shaft to the lower floor and the anthropomorphic representations of the Chaos Hall.

Similar orientation towards a zoo-anthropomorphic or some other exceptional creature has been noticed in the Palaeolithic art of Western Europe (Filippov 1990). Kotov has also attempted to associate the paintings with various ritual activities. He has traced the ancient beliefs in the ethnography and folklore of the aborigines of the Urals (Kotov 1997).
I don’t know if the ladder is a bit of a stretch for the 'ladder-like figures', but I’ve included it anyway. We know Siberian and Indian shamans of the turn of 19th century used them for reaching the upper world … but did they have ladders in Palaeolithic times? Well, of a sort, maybe? :wink:

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Post by john » Tue May 20, 2008 6:00 pm

Ishtar wrote:Palaeolithic cave paintings thought to be of a shamanic/ritual nature were found in the Shulgan Tash caves of the Urals in Russia in the late Nineties. They include an anthropomorphic figure painted in red ochre and similar in type to the Sorceror of Lascaux.

Image

http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/vol18/pa05.pdf
Inside this legendary cave a 16–17 millennia old cultural layer containing Palaeolithic stone tools, a primitive clay lamp, stone bowl, a stone with remnants of painting fallen from the wall, numerous pieces of charcoal and ochre have been discovered …

The southeastern wall of the Chaos Hall is tilted inward. Above a gap running downwards from the heap of stones between the slanting wall and the floor there is an extensive mural, where one can clearly distinguish an about 35 cm high bright red anthropomorphic figure with zoomorphic features.

This single anthropomorphic painting of the Shulgan Tash cave is depicted in profile, bending and its triangular head resembles a mammoth head. Some authors argue that the figure’s legs, as it were, remind those of horses and that it has a short tail (ŠFelinskij & Širokov 1999: 60).

Above the anthropomorph there lies an animal figure, which was damaged in the attempt to restore it in the 1970s and is no longer identifiable. Under the figure there are numerous red and brownish geometrical markings, including trapezoidal, triangular and ladder-like figures and various lines and streaks, partly covered by a calcite layer.

More than 50 prehistoric representations have been discovered in the Shulgan Tash cave so far….

A. Filippov and V. Kotov have attempted to clarify the mythological background behind the cave art of Shulgan Tash. According to Filippov these are ritual attributes, evidenced by the same orientation of all animal figures in the whole cave, from the Painting Hall through the shaft to the lower floor and the anthropomorphic representations of the Chaos Hall.

Similar orientation towards a zoo-anthropomorphic or some other exceptional creature has been noticed in the Palaeolithic art of Western Europe (Filippov 1990). Kotov has also attempted to associate the paintings with various ritual activities. He has traced the ancient beliefs in the ethnography and folklore of the aborigines of the Urals (Kotov 1997).
I don’t know if the ladder is a bit of a stretch for the 'ladder-like figures', but I’ve included it anyway. We know Siberian and Indian shamans of the turn of 19th century used them for reaching the upper world … but did they have ladders in Palaeolithic times? Well, of a sort, maybe? :wink:

Ishtar -

Boats and ladders are identical in the fact

That both are vehicles to get from "here" to "there".

It is hypothesized - from archaic examples -

That an early form of ladder was a tree of appropriate working height

With its branches trimmed to form rungs.

A ladder as we know it is far simpler, cognitively,

To conceive and build than a boat.

So, well within the range of Bednarik's 800k value

For this kind of techne.

As for the Shamanic implications,

Bob's your mum.


Boats, hematite, ladders,



john
"Man is a marvellous curiosity. When he is at his very, very best he is sort of a low-grade nickel-plated angel; at his worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm."

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Post by kbs2244 » Wed May 21, 2008 11:01 am

You know,
the tri pod mast kind of looks like a ladder.

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