Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm Baaaaack

(Reuters photo)

Okay, I have to admit, I hit the six month blogging wall. Life started getting busy, and once I stopped posting, it became difficult to get into the swing of things.

Now I'm tanned, rested and ready for some more archaeology news.

The big story of the last couple of days is the discovery of the world's oldest wall painting, found in Syria at a Neolithic site on the Euphrates called Djade al-Mughara. (Oldest not counting cave paintings, of course). The painting has been carbon dated to 9000 BC. As you can see from the photo above, the decoration consists of geometric patterns in red, white, and black, created using hematite, chalk, and charcoal.

The abstract nature of the painting has prompted predictable comparisons to modern artists, such as Mondrian or Klee. Needless to say, any resemblance, as they say in Hollywood, is purely coincidental. The article linked above quotes a Syrian artist who says "
"We must not lose sight that the painting is archaeological, but in a way it's also modern," he said."

No. It isn't modern. It is very, very old, created by a society with different ideas and beliefs than our own. Geometric patterns are found around the world, and there is no single wellspring for them, rather they are the product of the human mind's love of pattern. What it does show is humanity's common urge for artistic expression.

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