Europe as a story

People in Europe needs a story about European history in order to understand the context

Prehistoric periods - a book without words

The beliefs and means of survival provide the basis for cultures as well for the “written story”, which in those ancient times were the rock carvings and rock paintings – a book without words, but written only with pictures. The prehistoric images, rock carvings and rock paintings, are generally categorized according to the subsistence basis depicted. Images from the Stone Age are hunter images – images from the Bronze Age are farmer images. Geographically the cultural periods developed differently, homogeneous with the geological and climatic circumstances.

The cultures of the Stone Age existed everywhere during prehistoric times, but are now confined to indigenous groups, such as the Inuit, in Canada and Greenland, and the Aborigines, in Australia.

Around approximately 4.000 B.C. a new cultural period arose in Europe – the so called Neolithic period. It was during this period that agriculture first began to arrive in the European region from the Middle East, where the earliest origins of domestication have been found. Over time, societies changed drastically – people sometimes call it the largest revolution in the history of mankind: the Neolithic revolution. It marked change from a hunter-gatherer society to a productive society. People settled down and created communities of varying sizes based around arable farming, which enabled a much larger number of people to be fed. As a consequence of the resulting sharp increase in population, cities and city states with production and international trade emerged in the Middle East between 8.000-6.000 B.C.

During the Neolithic periods, hunter-gatherer ways of life gave way over time to agriculture. A marked change occurred when the Bronze Age began around 2.000 B.C. During the Bronze Age, the pictorial expression underwent a change in both form and content. The rock carvings from this period are frequently known as farmers carvings. The people practicing agriculture became dependant on different powers compared to those in the past, and the dominating theory is that the carvings describe the religion of the Bronze Age with its myths and rituals, inspired by their way of life. The rock carvings were not “art for art’s sake”, but constituted a practical tool to maintain the religious needs and balance within society. The representations are our largest source for our appreciation of their cosmology. They are predominantly pecked in stone, but also appear frequently on metals, bronze and gold, and on perishable materials, such as wood and tattoos on the skin.

This pictorial tradition was alive for at least 2000 years at a time of extensive communication. Based upon the evidence available, it would appear people have migrated and immigrated during all periods, taking culture and traditions with them. From this, one might remark that “EU” has effectively existed for over 10.000 years. Today, we still speak of a cosmopolitan tradition with local variations from the many symbols found across the globe.


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