The First Signs
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The First Signs : Unlocking the Mysteries of the World's Oldest Symbols

3.96 (233 ratings by Goodreads)

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Description

The First Signs is the first-ever exploration of the little-known geometric images that accompany most cave art around the world-the first indications of symbolic meaning, intelligence, and language.
Join renowned archaeologist Genevieve von Petzinger on an Indiana Jones-worthy adventure from the open-air rock art sites of northern Portugal to the dark depths of a remote cave in Spain that can only be reached by sliding face-first through the mud. Von Petzinger looks past the beautiful horses, powerful bison, graceful ibex, and faceless humans in the ancient paintings. Instead, she's obsessed with the abstract geometric images that accompany them, the terse symbols that appear more often than any other kinds of figures-signs that have never really been studied or explained until now.
Part travel journal, part popular science, part personal narrative, von Petzinger's groundbreaking book starts to crack the code on the first form of graphic communication. It's in her blood, as this talented scientist's grandmother served as a code-breaker at Bletchley. Discernible patterns emerge that point to abstract thought and expression, and for the first time, we can begin to understand the changes that might have been happening inside the minds of our Ice Age ancestors-offering a glimpse of when they became us.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 328 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 23mm | 367g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 31 b&w photos t-o; 8-pg 4-c insert
  • 1476785503
  • 9781476785509
  • 76,721

Review quote

"An exceptional read that should capture the imagination of anyone fascinated by time, humanity, and prehistory." * Library Journal (Starred Review) * "Brings fresh eyes and fascinating theses to the study of ancient rock art... Lively... Linking these systems to other graphic conventions may eventually yield some sort of Rosetta stone... Anyone who's longed to visit Lascaux or the caves of Cantabria will be eager to read von Petzinger's admirable efforts at cracking the code." * Kirkus * "Fascinating, a journey through later prehistory, interspersed with personal anecdotes of her exploration. She delves expertly into many of the questions around the earliest expressions of art, symbols and language." -- Louise Leakey, paleontologist, Director at the Turkana Basin Institute Von Petzinger has created a fascinating look at signs found in the caves that have not been thought of before. I have been in many of the caves myself and recognized many of the symbols. I thought her analysis of the symbols reflected the intelligence of our ancient ancestors. She has done a remarkable job of analyzing part of the cave art that has never been done in that way before." -- Jean Auel, author of the bestselling Earth's Children series "In this wonder-filled book Genevieve von Petzinger takes us tens of thousands of years back in time, and to some stunningly beautiful sites, in a fascinating attempt to penetrate the psyches of those ancient people." -- Ian Tattersall, author of The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack and Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution "If you love mysteries, you'll love this book. Archaeologist von Petzinger acts as guide and sleuth in this fascinating, accessible, and fast-paced exploration of Ice Age artists and the evocative cave paintings they left behind.Von Petzinger offers a new way to think about why our distant relatives created this art, and what it means. You'll come away with a deeper appreciation for these great artists, their love of animals and the natural world, and their connection to us." -- Virginia Morell, author of Animal Wise and Ancestral Passions. "Genevieve von Petzinger reveals that, beyond the iconic images of horses and bison so transcendent in their beauty, are 32 signs that may represent a vocabulary written literally in stone, symbols that offer an opening into the Paleolithic mind. This may represent one of the most extraordinary scientific insights of our time." -- Wade Davis, author of The Serpent and the Rainbow * Professor of Anthropology Faculty Associate, University of British Columbia *
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About Genevieve Von Petzinger

Genevieve von Petzinger studies cave art from the European Ice Age and has built a unique database that holds more than 5,000 signs from almost 400 sites across Europe. Her work has appeared in popular science magazines such as New Scientists and Science Illustrated. A National Geographic Emerging Explorer of 2016, she was a 2011 TED Global Fellow, a 2013-15 TED Senior Fellow and her 2015 TED talk has more than 2 million views.
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Rating details

233 ratings
3.96 out of 5 stars
5 33% (78)
4 37% (86)
3 24% (57)
2 3% (8)
1 2% (4)
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