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The First Signs

28 Oct 2016
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Unlocking the Mysteries of the World's Oldest Symbols

by Genevieve von Petzinger

The First Signs Unlocking the Mysteries of the World's Oldest Symbols

Knowing of the signs depicted in ancient rock art, I had expected Genevieve von Petzinger's The First Signs to shed much more light on this aspect of Palaeolithic art. It did. What I hadn't expected was a thorough and scholarly - yet highly readable - account of the context for these enigmatic signs, not just with the art but also with the people who created and used them.

The author describes the birth of anatomically modern humans - our birth - in Africa some 200,000 years ago and the subsequent cultural development. This development, she quite rightly argues, saw the early birth of both the symbolic mind and the artistic hand, among other things, on this continent. With these cultural packages, we are taken into the Ice Age of Europe to learn of life and death in the earliest villages, and to enjoy the stunning examples of Palaeolithic art, from the high-achieving sculptures to the awe-inspiring parietal art. 

The signs and symbols themselves are approached through a concise understanding of language. For the language, and the brain and the writing, no stone is left unturned, as von Petzinger considers previous and existing theories and their possible shortcomings - all based on the data she has gathered - before presenting her own interpretations. (Without giving too much away) her understanding of how symbols are formed leads her to the conclusion that 'the vast majority of signs started life as a pictographic representation of something tangible'. Discover what those tangible representations are......

Peter Robinson, Editor
Bradshaw Foundation 

About the author
Genevieve von Petzinger studies cave art from the European Ice Age and has built a unique database that holds more than 5,000 signs from almost 400 sites across Europe. Her work has appeared in popular science magazines such as New Scientists and Science Illustrated. A National Geographic Emerging Explorer of 2016, she was a 2011 TED Global Fellow, a 2013-15 TED Senior Fellow and her 2015 TED talk has more than 2 million views. Genevieve von Petzinger is a member of the Bradshaw Foundation Advisory Board.

The First Signs is available in Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle & Audio

Product details:
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Atria Books (16 Jun. 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 147678549X
ISBN-13: 978-1476785493
Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm

Visit 'Geometric Signs: A New Understanding' by Genevieve von Petzinger
Purchase 'The First Signs' on Amazon:


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