I painted Izzy the dog for Hollye the human! Izzy is a representation of our domestic harmony – not perfect but loving and appreciative. We will repaint the frame, probably copper and I’m going to varnish the canvas as well but essentially it’s done. I’m not going to over do it (unlike the origins of man article I am posting after the photo of Izzy herself below)!
This important and largely un-excavated archaeological site, along with the Lascaux cave paintings (that are possibly not that much older) show us that animal art is part of being human and probably the one constant universally understandable method of symbolic abstraction that is still used by humans all these tens of thousands of years later.
This video on Youtube has the following blurb (I corrected some spelling mistakes)…
Gobekli Tepe has probably explained one of the most important mysteries of all time, where and how did modern humans evolve. This is a masterpiece of work that brings ancient history to life. Göbekli Tepe’s last moments were preserved by back-fill 10,000 years ago that totally preserved it as a museum of early prehistory. The extraordinary raised reliefs, pictograms, and pillars—many over twenty-feet tall and weighing many tons—tell the story of a forgotten culture from 11,500 years ago.
The extraordinary raised reliefs, pictograms, and pillars—many over twenty-feet tall and weighing many tons—tell the story of a forgotten culture from 11,500 years ago. The prehistoric Middle East weaves together archaeological, anthropological, astronomical, and spiritual aspects of Göbekli Tepe. This is far more than a video about the archaeology of Gobekli Tepe. You need the ability to think outside the box and see the bigger picture, this ability has resulted in a fascinating and thought-provoking theory about the role of Gobekli Tepe in the rise of civilization itself.
Ok so to understand ancient cultures like Göbekli Tepe we can use an example from more modern times – our friend Pablo Picasso – still more famous than artists from all the decades since he died! Sure he liked animals too and made lots of animal art in his day but for this discussion I want to use him as an example of a mental process that we humans use called abstraction.
Pablo Picasso looked at a thing and then interpolated it into something visually different by the process of abstraction.
He abstracted from reality to create something different, often barely resembling the real thing – but we understand that his Les Demoiselles d’Avignon painting is an abstraction of (normal looking) people and African masks rather than a literal representation of disfigured people.
We can also understand (with decades of art history analysis and lectures under our belt) that the animals and people in Picasso’s Guernica painting are not portraits but abstractions of feelings, ideas, concepts etc – words alone could not convey the emotions the artist felt about the brutal bombing of Guernica – so he found a better, lasting way to get his point across.
As humans, we can often get the gist of the point being made with symbols more effectively than from a dry reporting of the facts – in fact, it appears to be a human trait that truth is best expressed creatively than literally.
What does the Göbekli Tepe fox mean? Well, there are lots of rabbit holes to follow that weave a thread through the tapestry of many cultures but that animal art is pre-historic – it was made before anything we can trace back to a common cultural root (official written history started long after they made that art)!
What do we think the Fox means? well, I’m certain some people will say it’s astronomically related, others might say it’s for fertility etc, I mean that’s a generous penis someone carved on him hehe! But maybe it was just an art project by someone, we are unlikely to ever know the truth but how much modern animal art is simply a portrait of an actual animal and how much is to celebrate what the animal means and how much is advertising for goods and services that may or may not even use animals at all?
We can reasonably guess that the animals (and other carved works) at Göbekli Tepe are almost certainly not literal representations made by a group of like minded artists over hundreds if not thousands of years – they are abstractions of ideas – some more Picasso-esquly abstract than others.
We know ‘Picasso the artist’ as he shared himself with us, the good the bad and the abstract – but we do not know the people who built and worked at making Göbekli Tepe which is the most amazing pre-historic art work discovery of the past 20 or so years.
I’m pretty sure that the archeologists have figured out the when but in order to know the who and the why they made Göbekli Tepe we have to adopt a philosophy and make assumptions based on educated guesses.
Humans are human – what makes us human now is what made us human back then – I do not subscribe to the theory that things like love and loyalty etc were somehow evolved from a ‘lesser’ set of emotions based on survival.
I am also not going to believe that stone age people didn’t play with their pets and friends, fart, laugh, appreciate the curve of a fine boob and buttock, get randomly horny, get fucked up on some chemical substance occasionally and/or sat around discussing abstract concepts such as the purpose of life – those things are all part of what makes us human – not everything in antiquity was a serious fear-based duty born from grimmest survival!!!
It has been proposed that beer was invented (or at least mass produced for the first time) at Göbekli Tepe – yeah, we all know that beer was the way the first agricultural civilizations saved the calories from wheat (that could have spoiled otherwise) but Göbekli Tepe is stone age, thousands of years before agrarian societies were previously said to have existed.
History books say stone age man was a nomadic hunter-gatherer but beer is one of the foundations of stay-where-you-are-and-grow-stuff civilization! If you can drink your calories and get some kind of pleasurable altered state from it – then the things associated with those states will come into existence.
It was greasy pizza at 2AM Saturday morning on the strip in Carbondale Illinois circa 1992 for some of us but back in the stone age you also would have to had some place you can safely drink beer in without worrying about a sabretooth tiger killing you for the practice to have continued. And seriously, you think they just drank it for the calories? 🙂
Terrence Mckenna proposed that humans had a whole different societal structure (than the history book beer/agrarian hierarchical top-down patriarchal etc etc culture) based on abundant psychedelic mushrooms (that typically grow in environments moister than that required for wheat). Could it be that as the world became dryer around a mini or full-blown ice age perhaps – that society shifted it’s attitude as it did with it’s intoxicants?
I mean we know the difference between some stereotypical drunk jock and a stereotypical hippy tripping out on ‘shrooms right?
Some of the huge T shaped stone formations at Göbekli Tepe have been interpreted to be abstract human figures – arms are caved on the sides for example to give credence to this idea. They also look like abstract mushrooms right? Sure, maybe it’s an abstract of the male force (phallic) as they do stand in circles which we can thusly interpret as a female symbol.
Is it possible that there are multiple intentional levels for the abstraction? Just throwing things out there as right now the field is wide open for speculation on the reasons for the why Göbekli Tepe has so many stone circles with stone T-shaped megaliths.
Fertility rituals? Some kind of momento-mori? Did the energy of the stones cause the wheat/beer to increase it’s potency? (this type of idea of energetic enhancement of matter has been proposed as a reason for the great pyramid by the way).
Here’s my interpretation of why the fox was carved at Göbekli Tepe.
The area was a safe zone from the wild animals. They had a serious ceremony of appreciation – ‘we are thankful that we don’t have to hunt or gather today and that we have built this safe area to play in’ then intoxicants were distributed and people did their thing.
Dancing, making love, sitting around laughing maybe even some kind of sports but the people who took intoxicants that lasted a long time and made you unable to just sit down and generally fidgety needed something to do that they could focus on while they were in their altered state.
An altered state where you are too altered, well you just sit there tripping out – too drunk and you don’t really create anything but a mess but if you hit that zone, fucked up but focused – you could easily work on carving a block of stone – it would feel great to move your body while you focused on a project for hours and hours!
Luckily I am an artist and not anyone ‘serious’ but art doesn’t have to be serious and neither does history – maybe they made animal art for fun and appreciation!!!