Wednesday, December 10, 2008

page 12

One of mankind's earliest technologies is the narrative. Narrative is defined as the telling of a story or event through any medium such as writing, speech, acting, etc... Dating this technology is difficult and problematic due to its intangibility, but we have at least some clues as to when it may have arisen. Cave paintings that date back as far as 35,000B.C. suggest that man has been telling stories (and creating narratives) for millennia (Cunliffe, 68)! Even if we could find the oldest possible cave painting we could never accurately determine when man created the first stories and narratives. Archaeologists and physical anthropologists have determined that man had the ability to speak (the proper hardware) sometime after 200,000 years ago (Campbell, 394). One would imagine it would not take very long for an already intelligent and technologically accomplished race to invent language and, along with it, stories… the first narratives. There is, of course, no way to know for certain, but what we can know is when written narrative started to appear in the archeological record. Aside from cave paintings, we see the first evidence for writing (which uses arbitrary characters, not pictures, to tell a story) in ancient Mesopotamia, around 3,500B.C. (Scarre and Fagan, 70). Back then, however, writing was reserved for the priest class and was used primarily as a means of tax-keeping. Narrative did not show up in writing until much later. Most stories were actually passed on orally through song until writing became somewhat accessible to the lower classes.
If you think narrative was created orally and independent of writing, go to page 23
Otherwise, go to page 13

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