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Download The First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World’s Oldest Symbols Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World’s Oldest Symbols, by Genevieve von Petzinger Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Genevieve von Petzinger Narrator: Robin Miles Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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One of the most significant works on our evolutionary ancestry since Richard Leakey’s Origins, The First Signs is the first-ever exploration of the geometric images that accompany most cave art around the world—the first indications of symbolic meaning, intelligence, and language.

Imagine yourself as a caveman or cavewoman. The place: Europe. The time: 25,000 years ago, the last Ice Age. In reality, you live in an open-air tent or a bone hut. But you also belong to a rich culture that creates art. In and around your cave paintings are handprints and dots, x’s and triangles, parallel lines and spirals. Your people know what they mean. You also use them on tools and jewelry. And then you vanish—and with you, their meanings.

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 to the abstract geometric images that accompany them. These terse symbols 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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Quotes & Awards

  • The First Signs is the first book by Genevieve von Petzinger, a groundbreaking researcher of geometric signs in Ice Age rock art, those famous paintings of wild animals, human hands, and abstract patterns…Like any good scientist, von Petzinger is cautious not to speculate too much on the potential for interpreting their meanings. But she clearly plans to continue her work…will excite anyone interested in the origins of human abstract thought and communication.”

    Shelf Awareness

  • “In this fascinating book, Genevieve von Petzinger takes you on a journey through later prehistory, interspersed with personal anecdotes of her exploration, often in muddy tunnels in dark caves in remote corners of Europe. She delves expertly into many of the questions I have often contemplated around the earliest expressions of art, symbols, and language, providing us with an extensive exploration of the artists in the mostly European landscape and offering her interpretation of the clues and evidence surrounding the later transition towards fully modern cognition.”

    Louise Leakey, paleontologist, director at the Turkana Basin Institute

  • “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

  • “Few mysteries intrigue more than what the numerous abstract symbols they inscribed on cave walls actually meant to the gifted artists of the last Ice Age. 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

  • “Ms. 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

  • “A young scholar brings fresh eyes and fascinating theses to the study of ancient rock art…Scholars and amateurs alike should perk up at her thought that these ancestral peoples did not confine their painting to the deep interiors of caves but likely decorated many easier-to-reach surfaces with self-expression…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 Reviews

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