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MDSA02 - Midterm Study Guide

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Media Studies
Ted Petit

ARTICLE 1Outline of DiscussionDifferent symbols and signs used in the Lower Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic periodKey Issues RaisedThe use of symbols is a characteristic of human behavior Humans have also communicated by signs as well Symbols 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 reminds us of death in our culture may as well stand for life in another cultureIn the Upper Paleolithic and the Mesolithic the same symbolic tradition continuedThe function of the Paleolithic and Mesolithic incised engraved bones and animal representations can only be hypothesized theorizedAndre LeroiGourhan French archaeologist 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 trackWe should consider the notches a vshaped cut marks as signs promoting the accumulation of knowledge for specific endsThe tallies remained a rudimentary simple device Two reasons 1 the notches were unspecific and could suggest an unlimited field of interpretation 2 Because tallies used a single kind of marking namely notches they could handle only one type of data at a time This simple method of tallies would be acceptable only in communities where just a few items were being recorded That was the case in the Upper Paleolithic periodPaleolithic or Mesolithic tallies have counted time and recorded only quantitive informationThe main uniqueness of the tokens was that they were manmadeTokens were a new medium for carrying informationThe token system was transmitted as a developed code from community to community spreading throughout the entire Near EastThe token system was unique in the kind of information it delivered The tokens dealt with economic data each token stood for one precise amount of a product also tokens conveyed qualitative informationThe Neolithic symbolic system of clay tokens was more popular than the Paleolithic tallies throughout the Near East because it had the following advantages 1 the system was simple 2 the code allowed new information in data processing and communication 3 the code was timelyKey Facts To Know Symbols and SignsSymbols are things whos meanings allow individuals to communicate as well as to express their ideasEx Black is the symbol for death Signs are a subcategory of symbols intended to carrying narrow and precise information Ex I is the sign for number one when referring to how Black is the symbol for death Symbols and signs are a major key to understanding cultures however sometimes symbols dont have the same meaning in the different cultures Lower Paleolithic SymbolsDuring the lower Paleolithic Period humans were present in the Near East around 600000 years ago No symbols are remaining from this period Middle Paleolithic SymbolsThis period goes back to 60000 years ago where human were called Neanderthal Neanderthals are eitherancestors or distant relatives to modern humans some humans today carry 1 of neanderthal genes in the Near East Some symbols have been found in this era including ocher for body paint flowers and antlers which were deposited in burial sites as well as bone fragments with notches first manmade symbols which were used to translate ideas Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic SymbolsSymbols were found in different caves and locations in Israel in 28000 BC and in Lebanon from 1500012000 BC such as bones 10 cm in length They have also found Produced Pebbles various limestones and bones with parallel lines in Iraq In Western Asia a new category of Iconic symbols were found They held the shape of animals like horse bull deer and they were traced on the walls of the caves Archaeologists are not sure about the usage of the incised bones and animal shapes They assumed that the notches on the bones were used to keep tallies and to keep data But because these notches could handle only one type of data at once they could only be used for few items in the community Therefore around 10000 BC Paleolithic and Mesolithic people have started to use pebbles twigs grains for counting different items but this method also had its own difficultiesThese notches effected much as they were part of data processing as they transformed physical data like phases of the moon rather in dabbling in in incorporeal aspects of cosmology and notched signs abstracted data by o Translates concrete info to abstract markings o Removed data from context Sighting of moon had nothing to do with having a party about it social conditions o Separated knowledge from knower presenting knowledge as cold static visual form o ALL OF THESE THINGS changed things because it gave a new objectivity when dealing with information unlike ever before Neolithic SymbolsThe symbols were found in the Near East The first agricultural communities were living in this area Some of the old symbols were still used by farmers like notched bones and some of them were new human and animal figurine in clay The new symbols were created according to the new way of life economy and agriculture Some of the symbols were different in form and content These new symbols were the clay tokens in distinctive shape representing a precise quantity of a product These tokens were entirely manmade and were made in different shapes such as cones spheres disks cylinders etc They were made for communication and record keeping Each form had a specific meaning and each token was used for a single concept Ex the cone stood for a small measure of grain the sphere stood for a large measure of grain etcThe creation of tokens have created a new system and was the first code for transmitting informationTurning Point in Communication and Data Storage tokens were the link between tallies in sticks and pictographs after tallies before pictographs Tokens foretold the way Sumerian writing system would by following features o Semanticity each token was meaningful o Discreteness info conveyed specific each shapespecific message o Systemization each token always meant same thing everywhere o Codification symbols interrelated with each other o Openness more tokens could be added by creating more shapes of combining existing ones o Arbitrariness symbols forms abstract Circle represents 10 animals o Discontinuity similar looking shapes didnt mean similar things o Independence of Phonetics concept signs for goods and thus independent of spoken language o Syntaxtokens organized according to rules such as in straight lines o Economic Contenttokens limited to economic real goodsDRAWBACK OF TOKEN they were easy to manipulate Difficult to transport in large quantities and restricted to small amount of infoExample Short Answer Prompt How did data processing and communicating attempts of early humans creating notches in sticks for phase of the moon or number of deer in a place for example change the way they we presentedthought about informationExample Multiple Choice Questions 1 Symbols a Help conceive express and communicate ideas b Convey narrow precise and unambiguous information c Share facts and knowledge with others d Both a and c2 Concrete evidence of humans using symbols for communicating economic information was from which period a Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic b Palaeolithic c Neolithic d Mesolithic3 Tokens were a great creation and came in various shapes and sizes And were predecessors to the Sumerian writing system yet there were drawbacks What was a drawback a They became brittle after use b They were easy to manipulate c They werent understood by people from different communities d They were made from clay with was not a readily available resource
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