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Amalia Dragusin

32 Symbols found in Ancient Caves from Europe

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“I often find myself wondering what drove these people to go so deep to brave dangerous and narrow passageways to leave their mark?”

Engraved figures from Grotta dell’Addaura in Sicily, from TEDx Conference with Genevieve von Petzinger (2015)

“Geometric signs have long been considered as important, and no cave art researcher has neglected them, at least since Leroi-Gourhan’s seminal work in the mid-1960’s. What is new and exciting in Genevieve von Petzinger’s research is, thanks to the possibilities of the computer, she has completed a data base of the geometric signs from 146 painted caves, attempting to analyse their relationships to one another.” (Bradshaw Foundation)

“The repetition of the same signs, for so long, and at so many sites tells us that the artists were making intentional choices. If we’re talking about geometric shapes, with specific, culturally recognized, agreed-upon meanings, than we could very well be looking at one of the oldest systems of graphic communication in the world. (…)

The oldest systems of graphic communication in the world — Sumerian cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, the earliest Chinese script, all emerged between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago, with each coming into existence from an earlier protosystem made up of counting marks and pictographic representations, where the meaning and the image were the same. So a picture of a bird would really have represented that animal. It’s only later that we start to see these pictographs become more stylized, until they almost become unrecognizable and that we also start to see more symbols being invented to represent all those other missing words in language — things like pronouns, adverbs, adjectives.” (Genevieve von Petzinger)

Evolution of pictographic representations, from TEDx Conference with Genevieve von Petzinger (2015)
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Hieronymus Bosch, "The seven deadly sins and the four last things."

Hieronymus Bosch

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Hieronymus Bosch (1450 – 1516) was an Early Netherlandish painter. His work is known for its fantastic imagery, detailed landscapes, and illustrations of religious concepts and narratives. Within his lifetime his work was collected in the Netherlands, Austria, and Spain, and widely copied, especially his macabre and nightmarish depictions of hell…

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Hieronymus Bosch, “The Garden of Earthly Delights.”

Bosch painted in a comparatively sketchy manner, contrasting with the traditional Flemish style of painting in which the smooth surface—achieved by the application of multiple transparent glazes—conceals the brushwork. Bosch’s paintings with their rough surfaces, so called impasto painting, differed from the tradition of the great Netherlandish painters of the end of the 15th, and beginning of the 16th centuries, who wished to hide the work done and so suggest their paintings as more nearly divine creations. (wiki)

Right side: Painting, Detail, “Garden of Earthly delights”  |  Left side: Drawing, “The Tree man.”
Hieronymus Bosch, “The seven deadly sins and the four last things.”
Documentary: Hieronymus Bosch with Brian Sewell
Copyright Information

The images on this page are not authored by Lines & Marks. They are shared under “fair use” for non-profit, educational and reference purposes, and may be subject to copyright. If for any reason this status is contested, notify us and we will remove the image(s) immediately. All other, © Lines & Marks, 2015.

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