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Axes and Arrows - From Symbolic Things to Signs

Adrian Poruciuc

Published: 2016/06/01

Abstract

The authors of a well-known dictionary of symbols (Chevalier & Gheerbrant, 1993) suggest, in a subtitle, that symbols manifest themselves as “myths, dreams, customs, gestures, forms, figures, colors, numbers.” No “things” are mentioned in that subtitle. However, if one tries to go back to the origins of most “cultural symbols,” one may discover that archaic (even prehistoric) symbolism was based on things, that is, on material items which acquired magic-ritual functions. Subsequently, representations of those things became symbols proper, of which many had the chance to develop into signs and/or graphemes. The present article is about such developments in certain parts of Europe and in the Circum-Mediterranean world. Key words: symbolic things, stylized representations, signs, script, substratal terminology

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