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22 March 2012
Was graphic code a forerunner to writing?

A recent study carried out by Genevieve von Petzinger and anthropology professor April Nowell (both of the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) has raised doubt over the age of modern written communication. They studied the graphic symbols from 146 different Ice Age archaeological sites in France, collating data on the type and frequency of the symbols found. If corroborated, the findings would push back the date for the origins of written communication by tens of thousands of years.
     26 different symbols have been identified, with some occurring more frequently than others. Very little research of this type has been carried out, so it is difficult to confirm the findings. To emphasise this point, von Petzinger herself is quoted as saying "These symbols are all over cave walls, but no one really notices them. For example, in Werner Herzog's recent documentary about Chauvet (Cave of Forgotten Dreams), he concentrates totally on the paintings of the horses and rhinos and lets his camera sweep past the symbols as if they simply are not there".

Edited from Past Horizons (12 March 2012)

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