The Evolutionary Step In Communication

The Evolutionary Step In CommunicationThe earliest forms of art were naturalistic, or in other words, a “cave man”, an upper Paleolithic Homeo Sapien- Sapien, found an existing shape in his “ sacred space”, saw the similarities between that and of an animal, like a bison, and decided to trace around it in ochre. Hence the recognition of a shape and the literal transformation of something real into a picture to convey a message to the collective.After this, the identification, the idea of making an image evolved to something more of a document. For example, later cave paintings are not of the naturalistic form, but rather formalized animal drawings (Cooke, 15). Rather than seeing a pre-existing form, man is creating from his imagination, not literally creating something, but the idea being lent from the indigenous animals of the region, of course not limited to animals, but primarily concentrated on (Coke, 105). Showing us that man was trying, or was indeed, comunicating through the use of images.

I know I am leaving out other steps in the evolution of this idea, but it is clearly too broad of an investigation, if I were to go in that direction. None of my instances are to be examined in one place. They are a collective evaluation of the start of communication and how the man who gave birth to this idea of an image, interprets it as a phenomena of some greater deity. The very first cave paintings represent the first existence of the modern day man, in terms of thinking (Bataille, 12). The homeo- sapiean- sapiean was very similar to the modern day man. In the upper Paleolithic time period, man lived in an unconscious state, but was not with out understanding, he perceived his environment in a naïve manner (Lommel, 12). When creating something as revolutionary such as a representation of something in reality, he feels a vigor and freshness. Meaning, this new idea of drawing, is subject to interpretation. The interpretation of use and the interpretation of its creation.

The modern, or most common interpretation of “the use”, is the idea of religious icons for the purpose of representing deities, whether they be animals, humans or both (Bataille, 35). I have no evidence to disagree with that basic, common interpretation. Yet, for some reason I am unsatisfied with this level of understanding. Of course there are unlimited possibilities and evidence to support all of them substantially, so I try here not to make this some personal philosophical inquiry. But, rather to prove my point, that the cave paintings were the enlightening event that created the human mind, not to say this has not been stated before. I was generally disappointed when doing the research to discover that most pre-historians actually believe the idea that the cave paintings were religious symbols.They were not symbols, but rather the identification of an entity, as to communicate to another being, “ hey look, this looks like this thing”. Then after they all agreed, it became practiced. As a counter argument, one could ask, why were they only found in the caves, “the sacred space”, where the dead were buried and the shaman practiced or some say, lived there, if it was to communicate to the collective? Well, as to a lack of a better devise to prove my point, I would reply to the questioning by explaining the brilliance and majesty of a pictorial representation of something. Especially if the cave made it for them. I could also say that is why the cave was sacred to them, because of these images they saw. Nevertheless, not to speculate too much, after the evolution of these communicative ideas, we see them turn to something different, a symbol or an icon. Used freely, not restricted to areas that already have a pre-existing shape.

This practice is limited to the shaman, because he or she is the only one who spends their time in the caves. So, to the villagers, this drawing thing is something of a wonder. It has to be something of a spiritual nature, to them, it is something never seen or thought of before. Perhaps they thought that since their sacred space was making images of animals, that the animals had some sort of spiritual over rule, leading them to be animists. However that might be or not, they had still created the first step in the evolution of communication, through drawing. Many, or all cultures, picked up characteristics from this time period. The Egyptian hieroglyphic characters, Persian cuneiform, all share the same pictorial elements. The actual reference to an object was expressed through visually representing that object, but of course it progressed into a more diversified skill, with more complicated drawings, with a more specific meaning. The “cave men” were not aware of the monumental technology that they had discovered, and we as interpreters of their creation greatly discard the most logical explanation and seem to run a little far with our speculations. It is truly a phenomenon of how we have evolved from that to present day.


1. Pedro A. Saura Ramos The Cave of Altaira. Harry Abrams,Inc.,Spain; 1999.

2. Budge, E.A. Walls. An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary. Dover, New York; 1978.

3. Baring, Anne. The Myth of The Goddess. London, Great Britain; 1993.

4. Bataille, Georges. Lascaux or The Birth of Art.Skira, Switzerland; 1976.

5. Lee, D.N.. Art on the Rocks of Southern Africa. Purnell, London; 1970.

6. Lommel, Andreas. Prehistoric and Primitive Man. McGraw Book Co., Neherlands; 1966.

7. Cooke, C.K. Rock Art of Southern Africa. Africa, Books of Africa; 1969.