MDSA02.docxmidterm exam notes

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Media Studies
Michael Petit

MDSA02 Chapter Notes Part 1 The Media of Early Civilization Chapter 1 The Earliest Precursor of Writing Symbols and Signs The time world was extended beyond the range of remembered things and the space world beyond the range of known places Harold InnisSymbols are things whose meaning allows us to conceive express and communicate ideas Ex black is the symbol of death and the cross for Christianity Signs are a subcategory of symbols Signs are things that convey meaning but they differ in carrying narrow and precise informationSymbols and signs are used differently symbols help us to conceive and reflect on ideas whereas signs are communication devices bound to actionThe use of symbols is a characteristic of human behavior From beginnings of humanity symbols have encapsulated the knowledge experience and beliefs of all people Humans have also communicated by signs as well Symbols and signs are a major key to the understanding of culturesSymbols are ephemeral lasting a very short time so they do not survive the societies that create them The meaning they carry is arbitrary determined by chance Ex colour black which evokes death in our culture may as well stand for life in another culture When a culture vanishes the symbols left behind become enigmatic puzzling occurrence situation for there is no longer anyone initiated into their significanceLower and Middle Paleolithic Symbols Although humans were present in the Near East starting in the Lower Paleolithic period as early as 600 000 years ago no symbols have been preserved from these remote times The first archeological material to be correct to the use of symbols in the Near East belongs to the epoch a particular period of history of the Middle Paleolithic period as late as 60 000 to 25 000 BC The date set of evidence is the following 1Pieces of ocher an earthly clay coloured by iron oxide were recovered in a cave Red pigment suggests a symbolic rather than a functional purpose and some say it may have been used for body painting2 Funerary paraphernalia such as flowers or antlers deposited in burial sites3 Bone fragments engraved with a series of notches usually arranged in a parallel fashion These bones are important for the present study because they constitute the earliest known examples of manmade symbols in the Near EastUpper Paleolithic and Mesolithic SymbolsIn the Upper Paleolithic and the Mesolithic the same symbolic tradition continues The use of ocher is frequently correct and notched rough or uneven having an irregular surfacebones are part of the assemblages gathering in IsraelA new category of iconic symbols is manifested in western Asia during the course of the Upper Paleolithic Example In Israel these symbols take the shape of stone slabs bearing fine lines that suggest a horseThe function of the Paleolithic and Mesolithic incised engraved bones and animal representations can only be hypothesized theorized Andre LeroiGourhan French archaeologist viewed the iconic representations as intended to cause a supernatural being to produce or prevent a specific result significance He argued that these animal figures were symbols loaded with a deep meaning Early days of archaeology the notched bones have been interpreted as tallies each notch representing one item of which to keep track Recent theory of Alexander Marshack the artifacts were lunar calendars each incised line recording one sighting of the moonWe should consider the notches a vshaped cut marks as signs promoting the accumulation of knowledge for specific ends If these hypotheses are correct the tallies constitute evidence that signs started being used in the Near East at least by the Middle Paleolithic period and if the evidence reflects the facts then the use of signs to communicate factual information followed the use of symbols in ritual If the incised bones are tallies the Paleolithic and Mesolithic linear markings are of considerable interest because they represent the first attempt at storing and communicating concrete information in the Near EastThis first step in data processing signified two remarkable contributionsFirst the tallies departed from the use of ritual symbols by dealing with concrete data ex they translated perceptible audibleclear physical phenomena spectacular event such as the successive phases of the moon rather than evoking intangible aspects of cosmology
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