If we take a look at what history tells us, we will find that the earliest known writing systems developed in ancient Sumer sometime around 3,400 BC.
A plethora of archaeological evidence suggests that this is where the first writing system appeared.
But what if there was evidence that contradicts this well-accepted notion?
What if we were to discover symbols that point towards an early writing system that predates that of ancient Mesopotamia?
Better yet, what if we already have discovered it, but somehow missed it?
A researcher believes to have found a ‘code’ embedded deep within ancient Cave symbols, which may represent the ‘root of human writing’: The same 32 symbols show up over and over in prehistoric European cave art.
Paleoanthropologist Genevieve von Petzinger from the University of Victoria in Canada may have something to say about this.
Studying symbols that have been carved tens of thousands of years ago in caves around the world may help us reveal a fascinating history that has been omitted for centuries.
While study some of the oldest art in the world, von Petzinger may have found evidence of a proto-writing system that perhaps developed in Africa and then spread throughout the world rapidly.
Von Petzinger has discovered in Europe’s Cave art as many as 32 shapes and lines that seem to appear over and over in different places.
This, the expert says, could be part of a single Prehistoric Proto-Writing System.
This does not look like the start-up phase of a brand-new invention,” explains von Petzinger in her new book, “The First Signs: Unlocking the mysteries of the world’s oldest symbols.”
The paleoanthropologist argues that as modern humans migrated from Africa into Europe, they most likely brought with them a sort of mental dictionary of symbols that became part of a later ‘universal’ code.
Furthermore, various experts agree that there is conclusive evidence that suggests that Homo erectus deliberately carved a zigzag on a shell on Java some 500,000 years ago, creating the world’s oldest shell carving.
“The ability of humans to produce a system of signs is clearly not something that starts 40,000 years ago. This capacity goes back at least 100,000 years,” explains Francesco d’Errico from the University of Bordeaux, France.
Between 2013 and 2014, von Petzinger visited as many as 52 different caves in France and southern Europe, writing down the various symbols she encountered inside the caves, including squares and triangles, straight and zigzag lines and other symbols usually ignored by earlier researchers.
The signs seem to repeat and are combined into what most likely constitutes some sort of message.
But what were the ancient’s trying to tell us?
Von Petzinger notices that the symbols she had cataloged followed a sort of trend. Some symbols like hand stencils were usually found in combination with dots, and these symbols can be tracked to about 40,000 BC.
Around 20,000 BC, humans decided that hand stencils were boring and turned to Penniforms discovered in northern France, dating back to around 26,000 BC. From there, these symbols spread to Spain and Portugal.
Von Petzinger suggests that modern humans used as much as two-thirds of ancient cave signs when they first settled in the European continent.