MP Gallery - Markings, Signs, Graphemes

(Revised and posted 6/13/06)

This gallery presents a brief synthesis of research literature on graphematic signs on Middle Paleolithic artefacts as of date posted. I have attempted a tentative categorization of the types of graphemes and some thoughts on what each may have signified based on internal analysis of the markings. The array of Middle Paleolithic artifacts bearing potential intentionally inscribed motifs is summarized on the MP Mind page.

I propose the existence of a worldwide Middle Paleolithic marking system or protolanguage (MPmrk). Middle Paleolithic symbolists appear to draw on some of the Early Paleolithic marking motifs:

  • Cupule - presencing, self-awareness, pulsating re-awakening to presence of life
  • Meander undulating line - flowing, undulating movement of life
  • Radiance - EP divergent line form [DLM] simplified into symbol of radiating energy
  • Stroke 'cut' mark (Type A iterative stroke mark), amplified in Micoquian as 'arrow' or 'dart'
  • Arc, multiple arcs - signifying recursion, return, cycling, re-birth

and innovate four new motifs

  • MP geometric forms (circle, spheroid, disk, triangle, lozenge, pentagon, hexagon) - which signify the 'shape' of the heart, mind, cosmos, sacred power places, crystal healing power; shape of the aesthetically beautiful life-essence. Especially spheroid, perhaps signifying 'the egg', the source of 'new, emergent, unfolding life, development'. At El Guettar, combined with color symbolism, red and black poles, can signify the source of unfolding as dual or dual-dual, fourfold: red as 'blood, life, menses, fertility, life-force, liberation' plus 'wound, danger, terror, rage, trauma''; black as 'fertility, potentiality, creative chaos of night, waiting' plus 'grief, death, finitude, transiency of individual life'. Compare the Orphic creation, the cosmic egg from which emerges Phanes (='open to sight', clear, manifest, visible', who is Eros, the First-Born, both female and male).
  • Sequence of long parallel, cross-object lines (Type B iterative stroke marks), possibly derived from thong-cutting (A. Marshack) - which, I suggest, after the New Guinea ritual dibat whose knotting around a stone object makes it sacred, empowers it with the 'singing seeds of life', ancestral spirit (O. W. Hampton 1999), may signify something like 'unfolding, empowerment with spirit-soul, and its protection'. Cutting across the entire surface of the object is like giving it a string necklace, giving it life-power and protective power; it makes the whole enspirited.
  • Cross - a cutting across that recuperates a crack or broken line, signifying reparation of a breaking of law, custom, taboo; reconciliation, restoration of wholeness, healing, health
  • Zigzag - lightning, communication or power connection between upper world and this world, heaven and earth

Note that the proposed thematics for these four graphemes are mutually interrelated, each entailing the other three.

Over time MP symbolists paired aggregated and otherwise combined these motifs in more and more complex forms, and eventually adding motifs, such as 'X' and 'chevron', which become key graphemes structuring the European Upper Paleolithic 'geometric signs' system, as I suggest elsewhere (See publications), signifying 'bifurcation' and 'channeled flow' respectively.

The MP markings may have had ritual efficacy and reflected a sophisticated understanding bearing such abstract ideas as 'presencing of the landscape'; 'venerating creativity, singing shapes, descending from the ancestors'; 'strengthening soul-spirit-force against demonic possession'; 'finitude, touching the animal'; 'self-presencing contemplation of the divine'; and 'manifesting the crystal rainbow of abundant life-energy' (See publications)

Photo © as cited

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a) laferrassie60... b) koonalda29jfp... c) cuevamorinmea... d) prolom13560rb... e) tata100bordes...
f) bachokirozigzag6045 g) bachokirodesign h) temnata6750 i) krm100sw81 j) laferrassie60engram209
f) bachokirozigz... g) bachokirodesi... h) temnata6750.jpg i) krm100sw81.jpg j) laferrassie60...
k) oldisleben120bednarik8 l) qafzeh100core23 m) qafzeh100core5 n) qafzeh100draw4 o) qafzeh100map1
k) oldisleben120... l) qafzeh100core... m) qafzeh100core... n) qafzeh100draw... o) qafzeh100map1...
p) oldisleben120bednarik2 q) blombos70engsciex r) kebara6050 s) quneitra54 t) quneitraam
p) oldisleben120... q) blombos70engs... r) kebara6050.jpg s) quneitra54.jpg t) quneitraam.jpg
u) ablartetcuevmorinrb9 v) suard150cremades1 w) suard150cremades2 x) arcysurcurfossilpyrit y) tata100ochredplaquebds39
u) ablartetcuevm... v) suard150crema... w) suard150crema... x) arcysurcurfos... y) tata100ochred...

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