Readers have questioned our respect for Alexander Marshack and his legacy. It is quite true that he is not officially a cultural anthropologist; yet his thinking has broken entirely new ground.
“A major breakthrough in the field of the interpretation and understanding of Upper Paleolithic art. Marshack’s results have thrown revolutionary new light on the intellectual level attained by our Upper Paleolithic forebears.” — Professor Hallam L. Movius Jr.
“I feel convinced that your accomplishments represent a major advance towards a more adequate and deeper understanding of the life ways, beliefs and values of Cro-magnon people.”
— Professor F. Clark Howell
His work resembles something that Gavin tried to do many years ago with his theory that it would have been easier to build Stonehenge when the ground was frozen than in summer. Compare: moving the stones in summer using rollers on a treeless plain–when the ground was soft–to sledding the stones in over frozen ground, with maybe buckets of water thrown to form ice in their path … Anyway, Gavin’s hypothesis was laughed out of court.
So what did Marshack do?
1. He proved to the satisfaction of the establishment that the marks on many of the pre-historic bones depicted lunations.
2. He proved that the marks were in fact the earliest known form of writing, dating from some 2,000 years before the hieroglyphic form.
Some of us have looked at the hundreds of batons de commandment (as the bones that Marshack studied are called). To us their size and shape suggested their use in initiation rituals.
We have taken the trouble to reproduce some of the marks in handouts we’ve created for presentations. The general consensus of attendees, especially among female attendees, is that the writing that so closely resembled lunar intervals suggested nothing more than somebody keeping an activity chart, as Yvonne used to call her own records in her bachelor days.
If, as we suspect, the writing was scratched by young women, it constitutes one of the earliest forms of written records and in our opinion should be more closely analyzed, if only to show that writing was a female invention.
It may be thought that all this is an unwarranted hypothetical extension of Marshack’s work; however, for many years we have shown copies of the markings to audiences, and almost all without exception suggested the same theory. Like the winter-time construction of Stonehenge, it is just a theory and nothing for the community to get uptight about.
We suggest that those who have a better hypothesis, either about the Ishango bone and batons de commandment, or about the construction of Stonehenge, publish them here.