Monday, April 9, 2012

Stone Age Venus (reading challenge #11)

The global reading challenge is about visiting books from all 6 continents, but it also includes an extra-task: to read a book from a "seventh setting": the sea, the future, outer space... or: the past. That's what I now picked, after the trips into the past near here, to the remains of the Celtic settlements (2200 years ago, near here), and to the "Blautopf"-pond, close to the cave where 4 years ago, archeologists found the oldest prehistoric venus figurine, the "Venus of Hohle Fels".

here's my note from that day: "It was here, in this valley, that some tiny remains of another time were found: flutes, 2 lion men, and just recently: a venus figure. Made of the ivory of mammoths. Which gives an idea of how old those memories of a time gone are: about 35.000 to 40.000 years. I still have to wrap my head around this. Just last week, i was in a place that reached back to Celtic times, and i felt: that was a long time to imagine already: 2200 years ago. And compared to that, the Venus is 20 times older. How to capture that?" (and here, the whole blog entry: from the water, into the blue of Blaubeuren

here's a photo from the exhbition, a collection of other female figurines from long past:

At the exhibition, they also showcased some books that related to the theme, one is written by a historian and a literary professor, both from the university in T√ľbingen, it's titled: "Die Venus aus dem Eis - Wie vor 40.000 Jahren unsere Kultur entstand" - "The Venus from the Ice - How 40.000 year ago, our culture developed"

The university takes care of the scientific studies that relate to the area of Blaubeuren, the original venus is in their labs. And it seems, the scientists there arrived at the same question: how to capture this time, and how to deal with the mix of facts and theories? There are so many facts that were found and explored in the last years there, but also so much unknown about that time, they tried to make the knowledge accesible in a science-novel: based on what they know, but adding a narrative and also additional parts with scientific notes. I knew i just had to read the book. And it’s well written, and very interesting and illustrative, with the narrative and with additional chapters that include explanations, notes and diagrams, like this one that sums up the keys to life on earth in the last 250.000 years:

While reading the book, the memories of another book surfaced, one i had read when i was a kid: “Rulaman” by David Friedrich Weinland. Back then, a friend of our family who is teacher gave it to me. Like the Venus book, it’s about a tribe in the stone age. I looked it up, and it turns out that it’s a book from 1878, written by a scientist and writer who lived in the South of Germany – and the story itself, it is set in the region of the Swabian Alb, and some scenes of it are set near Blaubeuren, too. – that’s close to where a hundred years later, the neolithic artifacts were found.

I checked, but for neither book is an english translation available. But for Rulaman, there is full-text German version online: Rulaman, and there is a Russian translation.

And there is an English wiki page of Venus figurines, and of the Venus of the Hohle Fels.

It seems like magic that those figurines survived through time. They feel like stories from the past, materialized in our modern world.


Global + European Reading Challenge
In the read this year, i am taking part in a global and in an european reading challenge. the idea: to read books from each continent of the world / several countries of europe. so far i've been to:
- book 10: Journal of  a Solitude (USA/America)
- book 9: Mexican Lives (Mexico/America)
- detour: the world in 7 books
- book 8: Tagore (India/Asia)
- book 7: Zarzura (Egypt/Africa)
- book 6: Jericho (Israel/Middle East)
- book 5: Ledra Street (Cyprus/Europe)
- book 4: Disappearance. A Map (Alaska/America)
- book 3: Paris was Ours (France/Europe)
- book 2: Anar (Middle East)
- book 1: The Tigers's Wife (former Yugoslavia/Europe)
- more books: virtual bookshelf
- about: the Global Reading Challenge

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