VI Simposio Internacional de Arte Rupestre Jujuy 2003Barrancas Condors, symbol of the Congress
1° Sección:
  Contribuciones teórico-metodológicas en la investigación
de arte rupestre: la obligación de pensar y crear. 



Post-Congress Revised Version

Detrás adornos y máscaras

dubal @


"Adornos y Máscaras" podrían haber sido el resultado de la primera actividad inteligente,
marcando la diferencia entre la humanidad y las otras especies. 
"Seducir o dar miedo" fue la estrategia del homo sapiens para sobrevivir, 
en su doble confrontación con sus aliados y con el mundo animal. 
Se discuten las evidencias de que el hombre ha tenido únicamente un carácter social,
con una personalidad individual inexistente.
Se pone de relieve con un particular énfasis el papel de los "grafemas icónicas" en el carácter 
estereotipado de las representaciones teri-antropomórficas.
Las estatuas-menhir, mudas y sordas, podrían estar sugiriendo que el concepto de la
personalidad individual surgió al mismo tiempo que la sacralización de la palabra y 
la invención de la escritura abstracta y linear.

Behind ornaments and masks

"Adornos y máscaras", i.e.: Ornaments and masks might have been the outcome of 
the first intelligent activity differentiating mankind from other species.
Indeed, just the intention to decorate oneself might be unique enough to characterize our specie.

 The Lady of St-Sernin Oetzi's tattooed left wrist  
 Repetitive motives such as parallel lines, as scarification & necklace
 on the Eneolithic statue-menhir of St Sernin (F) see  
 or on the tattooing on the left wrist of Chalcolithic 5'300 years old mummy of ötzi
or the scarification on the forehead of Rosalia, one of the set of 3 mummies 
found by J. Torres Aparicio in Inca Cueva 4 and which another one, 
(click), has been dated to be 700 years older as ötzi. 

or the ornamental spirals on the Taklamakan mummies, 2'500 years old, revealed in the TV Film of Olivier Horn, 
or the "pictorial surgery" on this New Zeeland Maori face.

"To seduce or frighten" appears like the survival strategy of homo sapiens,
 in his confrontation with his social partners and the animal world.
It looks as if this new paradigm, i.e. seduce or frighten,  
has taken the place of the former "attract or repel" behaviour.
Archaeological remains suggest that the social role had to be exhibited, 
as if the individuation had not yet taken place !

The 30'000 years old, mammoths ivory statuettes found in Germany (the left one last year) 
with lioness head.. and unclear sex... might be a metaphor of the appropriation of 
the protective power of the lioness.

The Lady of Cussac The Lady of Willendorf
 The 25'000 years old "First Lady", see
 discovered in year 2000, in the Cussac' cave (F),
 is faceless (as her sisters in the neighbour cave of Pech-Merle) . 
Only her social role, her nurturing role is depicted, as for the Venus of Willendorf. 
The Neolithic steatite statuette found in 2003 in La Marmotta on the Lake of Bracciano
 underlines the continuity of the nurturing role through at least 18'000 years. 
But not only female are faceless.

homosexual scene in Addaura

The mating males (click) in the Mesolithic cave of Addaura (I) are faceless too.

 hunter in Lascaux 

In the Palaeolithic cave of Lascaux (France), 
the face of the hunter of  is hidden under a mask representing a bird head, while in the Trois-Frères cave,
 the mask represents a head of an horned animal.


Still in the Trois-Frères cave, the 18'000 years old mask figure with stag’s antlers and unclear sex, might be ,
 like for the mask of the lioness
, a metaphor of the appropriation of the stag’s power. 
The continuity of this branching horns mask through at least 12'000 years, 
is illustrated by the so-called Cernunnos in Valcamonica

     Masked hunters in Messak        

while those Libyan archers are hidden under a mask representing of a bovine head, too.
Such horned masks are quite common, e.g. the Iron Age "Diavolo" of Valcamonica (Italy),
 or the Chichillape guanaco hunter of Quelcatani (Peru), with his two balls "Bolladoras
(while in the 9000 years old paintings in the Cueva de los Manos, only one ball is depicted).

cynanthrope in Lybian Messak

Here, instead of carrying a mask depicting the head of an horned animal, this hunter 
in Messak (Lybia) carries a remarkable dog's head masks.


While here, on the very first cartoon,
 the Assyrian King Tukulti-Ninurta I (around year 1230 BCE) stands and kneels 
pointing with his finger toward a sitting God carrying the mask of the invisibility.
The depiction of a transparent mask is only possible, in our opinion, in a culture having
reached the ability to narratize, as coined by the psychologist Julian Jaynes.

This mimetic anonymity of the social role is a kind of mask, which, 
to be operative, has to be recognizable at first glance.
In Rock Art, taken in its broad sense, this effect is sometimes a
chieved  through
 "stereotyped graphical elements", or iconical graphemes.
Iconical graphemes represent something on their own,
 but that this something has no link with the composed picture.
  This process of substituting "one thing by another" is an extraordinary step toward abstraction.

Let us now look at some iconical graphemes
(click) of particular interest.

The Bovine's head grapheme

A fine example of the use of this iconical grapheme is 
the engraving of the so-called chief of tribe, in Mount Bego (F). 

 le chef de tribu du Mont Bégo
The bovine head grapheme appears here five times: for the face, the neck, the chest, the belly and the sex  !

The v-shape Grapheme

 It has been used to sketch 

mask in Helanshan  mask in Helanshan

the face of masks, in the Northern China site of Helanshan

Some similarities might be found with Tafi's statues menhir in Tucuman. 
On one of them, this iconical grapheme appears four times, twice on each face. 
The presence of a mouth might testify for Narratization Age statues.

This grapheme, but highly stylised,

  Pontevecchio's female    Pontevecchio's maleestatuaria agustiniana

has been used to sketch the mute face of those Ligurian statue menhirs of Portovecchio.
It is interesting to compare the minimalist version of this grapheme 
with the "complementary" one used on the San Agustin's statues.
The presence of the mouth indicates, here again, a more recent facture.

The Owl's head grapheme

The iconical grapheme of the face of an owl 

cazarils languedoc languedoc    
has been used on languedocian  statues-menhir.

The Lotus flower grapheme

lotus navel of Akenaten Akhenaten hermaphrodite ?

According to our findings, Pharaoh Akhenaten, of the 18th dynasty, reigned from -1341 to -1324,
(while dates claimed on Internet for beginning of his 17 years long reign encompass 30 years !).
Akhenaten is the first monarch who dared "to throw the mask away",
 and to exhibit his hermaphrodite figure. 
Despite this naturalism, it is symbolically significant that the navel of the proto-patriarch
 is disguised as a lotus flower... 
 But Akhenaten provides further clues of what lies behind the mask.
He is acknowledged for having launched two major socio-cultural revolutions:

1)  the cult of a unique, faceless, abstract God & abstract linear writing.
According to our calculations, see 
the introduction of Akhenaten's solar cult
 might possibly have its "motivation"  in the occurrence,
on -1337.05.14
of a total solar eclipse between Thebes (E32.6°/N25.7°) and Memphis,
i.e.: over Tell el Amarna, where his new capital will be erected.

 2) the second revolution is the introduction of abstract linear writing. 
Significantly, scribes were ordered  to use this writing for the edict forbidding images of the God Aten. 
 The link between those two revolutions has something to do with our brain, 
with the fact that abstract linear writing induces an unexpected dominance 
of the left hemisphere over the right hemisphere.

The neuro-surgeon Leonard Shlain points out
(click) that 
while the "old" right brain is in charge of all-at-once nonverbal perception, 
( and, I would say, without time relation, the only way of thinking is magical...) 
the "new" left brain is in charge of one-at-a-time verbal perception, or at least 90% of it.
(And I would say, with the perception of time, the way of thinking can cope with causality)

The Hand grapheme

After the invention of the alphabet, the increasing audacity of
 the engravers produced more unexpected iconical graphemes. 
 As illustrated by this stele of Carthage, see

Carthago votive stele
even a hand can represent a nose, 
and the couple "moon crescent + solar disc" can represent eyes.

The Goddess Tanit grapheme

We found  that even Goddess Tanit's sign 

Carthago votive stele

has been used as an iconical grapheme to suggest a nose.
Let us point out that the Punic Goddess is faceless just as has been, 
one thousand years earlier, the Egyptian God Aten .

 With the Gods trusted to carry the mask of social anonymity,

Carthago votive stele

Time has come for the homo individualis to unveil his delicate face....