zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

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zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby dandelion on December 13th, 2014, 11:36 am 

http://www.nature.com/articles/nature13 ... ovEePL6yRy

http://www.nature.com/news/homo-erectus ... go-1.16477

"A zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia is the oldest abstract marking ever found. But what is most surprising about the half-a-million-year-old doodle is its likely creator — the human ancestor Homo erectus."
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby wolfhnd on December 13th, 2014, 5:00 pm 

I saw this too and it is very interesting.
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby wolfhnd on December 14th, 2014, 5:28 pm 

If anyone hears any more on this please let us know.
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby wolfhnd on December 15th, 2014, 3:06 pm 

Bump
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby dandelion on December 16th, 2014, 12:13 pm 

I’m pleased a number of us find this interesting.

No new news I know of, but this may give some perspective.
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xeJ ... yhceD2eXk-

And one of the links posted included a link to this news from earlier in the year.
http://www.nature.com/news/neanderthals ... rt-1.15805
Neanderthals made some of Europe's oldest art
Criss-cross patterns deep in a Gibraltan cave suggest that the species had minds capable of abstract artistic expression.
(or #summer -39ky) :)
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby wolfhnd on December 16th, 2014, 5:46 pm 

The debate about it being art or not misses the point, lets just say we use this definition.

“The process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions,”

So do other animals produce art in their native habitat?

Look here for a discussion on the Bowerbird Bowerbirds, art and aesthetics I would call it art other people disagree.

Image

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3419115/
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby dandelion on December 17th, 2014, 12:25 pm 

Function was mentioned in the paper, so just to be clear, the sentence given about art, could be limited by some degree of functional activity?

The case of the Bowerbird is very interesting, thanks for bringing it to the thread, I think possibly, particularly for reasons like the success of the nest might lie in a meeting of values between partners.

And, I wish I had more time to spend thinking about this further right now, but I’ll enjoy thinking about it more while away for a while, and I'll add some more thoughts if they occur when I get the chance or when I'm back.
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby dandelion on December 23rd, 2014, 7:49 am 

Some quick thoughts concerning the sentence and as well, possibly lacking an amount of function, or seemingly not directly functional, are dolphins playing, chimpanzee reactions and Congo, the chimpanzee painter.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWauuX_1 ... ata_player

http://vimeo.com/18404370

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_(chimpanzee)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4109664.stm
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby wolfhnd on December 23rd, 2014, 4:35 pm 

It's a fascinating find and maybe because it was unexpected at least I would never have anticipated it. More comments later.
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby dandelion on December 24th, 2014, 4:55 am 

Another thought, Mozart's starling, http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozart's_starling
It could be a while before I'm back, no hurry.
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby wolfhnd on December 24th, 2014, 6:08 am 

On a completely unrelated note my wife feeds starlings. When I first saw her doing this I asked if she knew that starlings were non native and considered pest by the department of conservation to which she replied 'her" birds were not pests. They have timed their daily activities to coincide with her schedule and while reasonably calm around her are not particularly fond of me or the dog.
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby dandelion on January 17th, 2015, 6:53 am 

Sorry for taking ages to get back to this. My family have always fed birds too, mostly natives of many kinds, but the favourites are a bonded couple who have been visiting my parents for over twenty years, (fairly certain they have been the same two) and very used to us. No starlings, but these birds do have a wonderfully wide array of vocalisations!

I also find symbolism interesting. Regarding this quote, ‘ “If correct it certainly pushes back in time the evidence for marking objects in a way that arguably could be considered evidence for symbolic activity,” says Curtis Marean, an archaeologist at Arizona State University, Tempe, who was not involved in the study.’
http://news.sciencemag.org/archaeology/ ... n-ancestor
I'm interested in what ideas of symbolism are used here are, and how the shell may be evidence and what sorts of other things could be possible evidence of this.
Last edited by dandelion on January 17th, 2015, 7:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby wolfhnd on January 17th, 2015, 7:17 am 

People are going to want to take great care that they do not imply more than can be proven by this type of evidence. Anecdotal evidence I would argue is of considerable value when no other means of analysis is available. I hope Forest will come along and comment because at the moment I'm a bit confused.
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby dandelion on January 17th, 2015, 7:22 am 

Yes, thanks. Perhaps my posts are better suited to philosophy, too.
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby Forest_Dump on January 17th, 2015, 3:23 pm 

I looked at the pictures of the lines on the shell and I have to admit that I was not really overwhelmed. I certainly have no problem with the idea of Homo erectus incising something like this or even engaging in behaviour that is more complex than previously thought. But even the much more recent and much more clearcut Blombos cave material leaves me with more questions rather than answers. But thats the way it is with the earliest stuff of any kind. The earliest stone tools, of course, are barely recognizable as such (although I will give a nod to Toth's paper "proving" Olduwan stone tools were more thought out than the stone tools of modern chimps. As they say, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and I am not sure this shell counts as extraordinary evidence. But it certainly could be something - I just don't know what.
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby dandelion on January 19th, 2015, 12:19 pm 

Thank you very much for the helpful post.

And I’m enjoying reading Toth’s paper. The discussion about the Oldowan technical knowledge and manual precision allowing flake production from minute fragments, distinguishing it from animal tool use, which, if this is correct, would be something like this- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Cp7_In7f88
and further discussions along those lines are great, thanks.

Interesting to me too, is it mentions that something of Deacon’s views of symbols is considered, which I’ve read something of too before, regarding things like cultural information, although I’ve also read some criticism that Deacon’s views of symbols in particular may not be so helpful in that way. And just related to some earlier posts, I think Deacon has been quite dismissive of animal art, citing works like this- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Cats-Paint- ... 0898156122 , and I’ve found Deacon’s suggestion that absence can be referentially significant really interesting. I think some of his views about symbols are not as narrow as Peirce, but still quite narrow. DeLoache’s ideas are a little broader, following Goodman, Langer and others, and some views include things such as concepts and discussions of self-referential labels as symbols. So about this Toth writes, ‘In Deacon’s framework, a symbol represents “… some social convention, tacit agreement, or explicit code which establishes the relationship that links one thing to another”’ and its good to see whose ideas are considered.

Also the paper mentions ideas like- ‘synthetic “organs”' and “techno-organic evolution”’, where it seems in various contexts amongst other things, parts of the environment or stones can have functional value or significance and be extensions or synthetic “organs” or tools. Also, Toth wrote of ‘”chimpanzee archaeology”’, which sounds a difficult task determining which is which.
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby dandelion on January 23rd, 2015, 10:56 am 

Regarding symbols further, papers like this-
http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/ ... l.pdf+html
“Do capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) use tokens as symbols?
E. Addessi*, L. Crescimbene and E. Visalberghi
Unit of Cognitive Primatology and Primate Center, Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, CNR,
Via Ulisse Aldrovandi, 16/b, 00197 Rome, Italy
In the absence of language, the comprehension of symbols is difficult to demonstrate. Tokens can be considered symbols since they arbitrarily stand for something else without having any iconic relation to their referent. We assessed whether capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) can use tokens as symbols to represent and combine quantities. Our paradigm involved choices between various combinations of tokens A and B, worth one and three rewards, respectively. Pay-off maximization required the assessment of the value of each offer by (i) estimating token numerousness, (ii) representing what each token stands for and (iii) making simple computations. When one token B was presented against one to five tokens A (experiment 1), four out of ten capuchins relied on a flexible strategy that allowed to maximize their payoff, i.e. they preferred one token B against one and two tokens A, and they preferred four or five tokens A against one token B. Moreover, when two tokens B were presented against three to six tokens A (experiment 2), two out of six capuchins performed summation over representation of quantities. These findings suggest that capuchins can use tokens as symbols to flexibly combine quantities.”

which suggests capuchin monkeys may use tokens symbolically, involving Peirce’s ideas of symbols, is probably not so interesting to me as questions raised about symbols, like those following-

“The role of cultural practices in the emergence of modern human intelligence
Edwin Hutchins
Abstract
Innate cognitive capacities are orchestrated by cultural practices to produce high-level cognitive processes. In human activities, examples of this phenomenon range from everyday inferences about space and time to the most sophisticated reasoning in scientific laboratories. A case is examined in which chimpanzees enter into cultural practices with humans (in experiments) in ways that appear to enable them to engage in symbol-mediated thought. Combining the cultural practices perspective with the theories of embodied cognition and enactment suggests that the chimpanzees' behaviour is actually mediated by non-symbolic representations. The possibility that non-human primates can engage in cultural practices that give them the appearance of symbol-mediated thought opens new avenues for thinking about the coevolution of human culture and human brains.”
http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/ ... /1499/2011

As well, there are some ideas here and in similar papers that interest me, too-
http://www.academia.edu/5485533/The_Evo ... _to_System
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby wolfhnd on January 23rd, 2015, 12:43 pm 

The role of cultural practices in the emergence of modern human intelligence


Wow thanks for posting that dandelion

It's nice to know I'm not alone :-) To me this is one of those self evident truths that what we see as properties of individual may be properties of cultures, but I keep an open mind.

The article is complex enough I'm having a bit of trouble understanding it could you post your thoughts on it?

Thanks
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby dandelion on January 24th, 2015, 10:38 am 

I’d like to, but I have trouble expressing them without being circular, but I wonder about something like- would, for example, learnt stone tool use be evidence of socially constructed change in apprehension, distinguishing functional properties, or, say, would this be some social convention linking stones to function?
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Re: zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia

Postby Marshall on January 25th, 2015, 8:40 pm 

I think it's good when I like something but am bewildered by it. Unable to comprehend--bewildered in a good way.
Can't sum up the ideas that come to me from this thread.
On a simple level, though, I loved the dolphins playing interspersed with the human surfer.
And the quite splendid paintings by a chimpanzee juxtaposed with a film of how young chimpanzees learn to crack nuts with properly selected stone tools.

I can't imagine why an H. Erectus person would be scratching mathematical figures on a shell in 500,000 BP, when H. Sapiens didn't even exist yet. Triangles, a sawtooth wave. It gives me an eerie feeling.
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