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ADORNING THEMSELVES WITH A WOLF’S TOOTH, Gabriella Brusa-Zappellni, PAINTING A WOLF ON THE ROCK: LOOKING AT THE ORIGINS OF SYMBOLIC BEHAVIOUR

ADORNING THEMSELVES WITH A WOLF’S TOOTH, Gabriella Brusa-Zappellni, PAINTING A WOLF ON THE ROCK: LOOKING AT THE ORIGINS OF SYMBOLIC BEHAVIOUR

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Published by Luciano Duò
In the first human settiements, for a certain time, teeth and other non eatable parts of animals must have been left on the ground among other food waste. Then, an intelligent handled by a complex brain, started to pick them up and pierce them at the root, charging them with an ornamental symbolic meaning.
At the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic the last Neanderthal men adorned themselves, as the Sapiens did, with human remains, possible amulets possessing magical effectiveness. Similarly, the images painted in the Aurignaziane caves may have had some magical effectiveness. But what different symbolic messages do these two different manifestations of human behaviour speak? Is it enough to justify the absence of images in the Neanderthal cultures, to refer to linking logics sustained by neuronal basis of the brain? Or is there something else? lf we travel back in time, in the Middle Paleolithic both in Europe and in Africa, the Musterian cultures and the Middle Stone Age cultures were quite similar, but may be - in the first southern African sites of the first Sapiens, the surfacing of a new, particular circumstantial paradigm could contribute to shed a light on these questions.
In the first human settiements, for a certain time, teeth and other non eatable parts of animals must have been left on the ground among other food waste. Then, an intelligent handled by a complex brain, started to pick them up and pierce them at the root, charging them with an ornamental symbolic meaning.
At the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic the last Neanderthal men adorned themselves, as the Sapiens did, with human remains, possible amulets possessing magical effectiveness. Similarly, the images painted in the Aurignaziane caves may have had some magical effectiveness. But what different symbolic messages do these two different manifestations of human behaviour speak? Is it enough to justify the absence of images in the Neanderthal cultures, to refer to linking logics sustained by neuronal basis of the brain? Or is there something else? lf we travel back in time, in the Middle Paleolithic both in Europe and in Africa, the Musterian cultures and the Middle Stone Age cultures were quite similar, but may be - in the first southern African sites of the first Sapiens, the surfacing of a new, particular circumstantial paradigm could contribute to shed a light on these questions.

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Published by: Luciano Duò on Oct 12, 2012
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05/13/2014

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PAPERSXXIV Valcamonica Symposium 201164
Gabriella Brusa-Zappellini* 
A
DORNING
 
THEMSELVES
 
WITH
 
A
 
WOLF
S
 
TOOTH
,
PAINTING
 
A
 
WOLF
 
ON
 
THE
 
ROCK
:
LOOKING
 
AT
 
THE
 
ORIGINS
 
OF
 
SYMBOLIC
 
BEHAVIOUR
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Abstract
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65
 Adorning themselves with a wolf’s tooth, painting a wolf on therock: looking at the origins of symbolic behaviour 
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Lower Paleolithic onwards, were used to decorate the body. Even shells must have been used earlier
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sea-worn valves of
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were found. They were probably not pendants, but their natural holes
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Nassarius gibbosulus
 
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the coast, and the shells were collected when dead, which would exclude any interest in food. Were
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Spondylus gaederopus
from Neanderthal
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et al., 2010), in any case not used for food. In the hominisation process, symbolic behaviour seems
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which people carried with them and accompanied everyday life.
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Mamutowa (Poland) yielded 13 perforated teeth referable to wolves, foxes, bears, horses, deer and
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that of the deer residual canines. At this early phase, lion teeth are also frequent (Taborin, 2004). As
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Animal teeth do not possess any particular intrinsic beauty. From a certain point of view, they
DUHOLNHÁLQWWKH\KDYHQRYDOXHLQWKHPVHOYHVEXWWKH\DUHYDOXHGIRUWKHVSDUNWKH\FDQFUHDWHLQWKLVFDVHWKHVSDUNRIV\PEROLFEHKDYLRXU0DQ\VFKRODUVKDYHHPSKDVLVHGWKHLUIXQFWLRQDVHYLGHQWVLJQVRIVRFLDOGLIIHUHQWLDWLRQZLWKLQWKHJURXS7KHSHQGDQWDQG
 parure
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in absentia
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Homo
 
sapiens
RUDOUHDG\RIWKH1HDQGHUWKDOV")URPWKHEHJLQQLQJ
of the early Upper Paleolithic, for at least 10,000 years, Europe underwent a transition characterisedby the coexistence of the last Neanderthals and the anatomically modern newcomers. Only in this
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canine and three deer residual canines. Are these innovations the result of an autonomous deve-
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Gabriella Brusa Zappellini
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physical manipulation, the sense of touch, with the body, with its moods and movements over the
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In the case of the ornament, the process of symbolisation remains within the same semantic ho-
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the imitations of perforated teeth on the same route. The earliest evidence is probably a copy of a deer
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-dedness. In a context where the object must have been valued not so much for its beauty as for itseffectiveness, the copy was not valued as a simulation, as it would be in subsequent, ancient andmodern, contexts.
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Homo
 
sapiens
are to be consi-dered differently. The Neanderthals adorned themselves with jewellery, but they did not leave any
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sapiens
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In
The Mind in the Cave. Consciousness and the Origins of Art
(2002), David Lewis-Williams, deve-
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Les Chamanes de la Préhistoire
(written in 1996 with Jean Clot-
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