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Comparison of a Neolithic Vessel (Greece) with a Native American (Southwestern USA)Vessel

Clifford C. Richey
email: crichey1937@yahoo.com

April 2012

Illustration 1: Photo Credit: Andonis Katanos

Illustration 3: Ladle Photo Credit: River Trading Post

Illustration 2: Photo Credit: River Trading Post

Illustration 4: Mesopotamian

Illustration 5: Face, Color Coded

Illustration 7: Face, Color Coded When reading this paper it might be helpful to also read the paper found at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/85335148/Native-American-Written-Sign-Language that provides some background on how to read written sign language. The bowl from Mesopotamia is approximately 5000 years of age. One can readily see that its design was organized around a Face (his appearance). One can also see the similarity between this bowl and the one from southwestern North America (Roosevelt/Pindale 1275-1350 CE).

Illustration 6: Southwestern USA

Both vessels have Triangular (earth-female) signs in their composition and multiple lines for flowing water. Both superimpose signs over the position where the eyes of a Face would be normally found. Both contain the Zigzag or Saw-toothed sign for water. Both vessels contain the (black, darkness) Triangular earth-female sign with the Eye within it. One cannot expect that there would be a one to one correlation of all the signs because, compositionally, the messages are not the same although the themes are similar.

Illustration 8: Original Vessel

Illustration 9: Form

Illustration 10: Face Imagery

Illustration 11: Eyes, Internal Basic Signs for Water

In order to demonstrate that this vessel from Mesopotamia follows the same rules of composition as the Native American we will dissect it into its Form, Imagery, and Basic Signs. The (light blue) Form of the vessel is also in the shape of a vessel, a container. The container concept was used to, metaphorically, describe the earth. The earth was perceived as a place that was filled internally, below its surface, with water. The Form of the striped signs (green) indicates (from top to bottom) a horizontal-place. The Curved sign means covered. The Triangle indicates the female-earth. The Imagery is that of a Face with Ears (tan), Eyes (red), a Nose (orange), and a Mouth (pink). The Ears allude to the position of the ear's orifices (holes) on the sides (of the earth). The Nose also refers to, positionally, the dual holes in the earth and this is reinforced by the two side signs on each side of it. The Mouth (pink) is in the form of the upper-half or the upper-world sign. The Eyes allude to the actual position of where the actual eyes would be on a Face, The Imagery appears to have a mournful look to it and this may not be accidental when one considers that the Saw-toothed sign for water is within the Form of the Eyes (i. e. watery or tearful eyes). The Stance of the Eyes are in the Left Leaning (waiting) and Right Leaning (stopped) and are positioned on either side of the Nose. This provides the gesture signing cues for the directions east and west.

Illustration 12: The Flowing (water)

Illustration 13: Unseen Water

Illustration 14: Taken Downward

Illustration 15: The Side

Illustration 16: The Upper-world

Some of The Basic Signs found in Greek Neolithic composition are shown above. Illustration 12 is the sign for flowing (usually water). It appears that the number of lines also has meaning as in this example the number 8 (white lines) might well refer to the eight legged Asterisk shaped spirit sign. This would compress the meaning of flowing-spirit-water into the sign. It is noteworthy that in both the Neolithic and the Native American flowing signs the number of lines in the flowing sign vary. Illustration 13 is a compound of the White Double Lines that indicate something, unseen with the Sawtoothed sign for water. This is found within the Eye Form. The Eye, within (positional) the water. Considering all the similarities between the Neolithic and the Native American the Eye might well refer to Venus as it does in the Native American compositions. Illustration 14 which is found in the position of the Nose is the swirl that indicates, taken-downward. Downward is indicated by the termination of the Swirl in a downward position. It should be noted here that this termination is in the Form of a Leg and Foot that indicates, a long-walk or journey.

Illustration 17: Ladle In the cleverly designed New Mexican Ladle (illustration 17) the same Swirl sign is found. If viewed from the handle end it would mean taken-upward. This would probably relate to the ladle's contents (water) being taken upward. The signs around this sign are the topographical mountain signs that show the levels of height. The Ladle Handle ends in a hole so even this very practical object has its cosmological meaning of relating to the water (presumably with spirits within it) being taken up and down the levels of the mountainsides. Illustration 15 is the sign for, a side. Thus, the long journey down the side of the earth. Illustration 16 is the upper Half of a Circle and means, the upper-half or upper-world. The (black) areas around the signs indicate, surrounded by darkness.

The signs discussed in this paper are so widespread throughout the Americas that there can hardly be any consideration of diffusion through later direct contact between the American cultures and those on other continents. It seems more likely that the use of sign language and its concomitant written signs were used by several ancient cultures and these systems were brought with the groups of people as they migrated to the Americas. No evolutionary changes have, so far, been uncovered in these signs in either the Americas or recognized elsewhere. Obviously there were dramatic changes in written language through out Africa and Europe especially with the use of the phonetic alphabets. But written sign language appears to have remained consistent in its signs over time and remained so especially in the Americas which would have been relatively isolated from such later changes elsewhere. Obviously the written signs were not part of any specific cultural group as their main use was to further communication between groups of people using different verbal languages. There does appear to be some cosmological similarities among the peoples using written sign language and this may have occurred through their contacts and use of sign language in trade. This paper is only a very tentative exploration into the use of sign language outside of the Americas. The number of questions that arise from this exploration are immense.