What we present here as a new method rests basically on a new way to conceive prehistory (Fig. 4a) in an 'ethno-pre-historically systematic way. Based on anthropological conisderations of habitat and anthropologically defined architecture it is focussed
a) on constructivity with tree nest construction of early great apes (20 mya),
b) assuming such nest clusters also in the social sense as spatial groupings or 'temporary settlements', further
c) it is focussed on toposemantic signs as socio-topo-semantic communication and
d) on rooted groundnests as 'first architecture' that is a rooted triangular construction on the ground which shows static characteristics. And finally,
e) relatively late, the development of tectonic forms among signs which show a categorically polar form and expression.
The main point in the present context is the following. We have an entirely different artefact condition, which reaches much deeper into temporal depth than conventional concepts of 'toolmaking' and this technical activity had impacts on the hominid body. These are: rotation of arms, precision grip of hands, refinement of stereoscopic short distance vision. With the origins of tectonic structures we can assume selective advantages of bipedal body position. And with increasing topo-socio-semantic communication we can assume that they have prototypical functions for the development of language. And most important, the development of categorical polarity provides basic cognitive potentials through what we called 'polar analogy'. We can explain in quite new ways the process of discovery of natural form, which must have been the basic force for the increasing capacity of the brain.
Evidently, the historical method is not efficient here, but paleoanthropology could become important in this framework, if it finds sources which would provide the physical characteristics to support the hypothesis of the Yerkes that 'constructivity' was an important behavioural condition of hominid evolution.
In a former study we have outlined what we called the 'deep structure of architecture and habitat'. Now we use the same framework as shown in the Fig. 4a to theorize the 'upper structure' of architecture and habitat, the formation of early civilisations, of early cities and early states. We use the same toposemantic marker traditions, in particular their territorio-constitutional functions as rural prototypes for the formation of larger territorial units with monumentalised centres.
We combine this basic disposition of our approach with the concept of urban-rural dichotomy. The concept of 'rural' gains an entirely different and new disposition as existential space and space of hominisation.
The following plate shows the results of the rural-urban-dichotomy concept, a new method based on the cultural difference of the rural and urban existential spaces. In comparison with the disciplinary system (Fig. 4) this method is quite different. It avoids the projections of the urban 'history bubble' and constructs a continuity between rural tradition and urban history.
The basic idea is to separate the rural space from the urban space, to consider both as different existential spaces in the sense of Bollnow's evolution of the per-con-ception of space. The different cultural conditions of both spaces are thus distinguished and research methods are adapted to these conditions.
Thus, we can assume that the rural space represents a tremendous continuity of traditions related to local conditions, and in particular of local organisation of space. It represents a small-scale spatial environment, which was favourable to hominisation processes in all their aspects.
The plate shows with 1 and 2 subhuman traditions with ground- and treenests. This is listed to hint to the new temporal depth related to protohuman artefacts. Most important are 3 and 4, toposemantic signs and categorically polar symbols. They are the basis for the formation of socioterritorial organisation of the environment and of the buildup of an elementary basically aesthetic ontology of categorical polarity.
In another paper we have described these traditions and their impacts on the processes of hominisation in the wider framework of cpnventional anthropology (Egenter 2001). Here we emphasise on one hand important characteristics of the developments of sedentary agrarian settlements at the end of Mesolitic and during Neolithic times and Metal ages. And on the other side, we will indicate how such processes formed the basis of later developments of 'high cultures' and early civilisations, leading to the formation of early cities and states.
This is very important: we definitely assume that urbanisation and state formation are processes which developed from parameters produced autonomously in the rural space. The most important process corresponds to the formation of what we call 'settlement core complex' in agrarian village cultures. This settlement core complex is the basic structure of sedentary agrarian villages. The term 'complex' implies that it is a 'multidisciplinary' structure. On a higher level it leads to village clusters grouped around a centre which can produce town character. Most important - sedentarisation is a direct result of these processes.
Methodologically this approach implies that what we call 'stereotype object-tradition' ('Sachtradition') is taken as a full fledged equivalent to what in general is called 'historical source'. In a temporally cyclic society the conscience of its origins are conserved by stereotypically reproducing certain materially perishable objects of ontological value as they were once made, because it is recognized that they contain some information or code of the past which is relevant for the present. Particularly in the framework of cults and rites we can assume that there is a great continuity of stereotype behaviour in regard to the cyclic reproduction of important objects.
From this follows a second point which is equally important: the main and theoretically relevant research happens in the vital, that is in the domain of ethnology, not in the field of 'digging', that is, archaeology. The vital complexity is an essential part of the method. Hinting to the archaeological method we could say that we are doing research, documentation and theory formation in the uppermost stratum, where life is still existing, where we can ask the inhabitants about the terminology attributed to objects, relevant parts of them or processes. In short, research is done, where the cultural complexity is high and accessible.
As we have shown in the framework of our 'urban rural dichotomy', the historical method apriori devalues the rural domain as a cultural space. The rural culture is not described objectively, but is apriori subordinated to urban criteria. This devaluation has its origins in the immanent value system which we critically characterised in the first scheme.
If, however, we work objectively in the vital stratum we become aware of the objective and systematic character of traditional cultures and also to what extent the urban disciplinary methods are to a great extent historistic projections. We discover for instance, that what is considered as primitive religion in traditional societies is structured entirely different than what comes out of the documentation of the peoples beliefs. The behavioural element in space, the cult is the message. It corresponds essentially to a local territorial constitution in which highly valued demarcations are cyclically renewed. Similarly we find a highly harmonious aesthetic concept related to such cults and rites and their demarcations which are the basics of the local ontology.
We become aware that the Eurocentric methodology distorts the factual conditions. What we conventionally conceive as 'primitive religion' is an Eurocentric projection. In fact we have to deal with a territorial constitution based on traditional demarcation with fibroconstructive thus perishable and cyclically renewed nuclear border-demarcations.
There is a further important point. In the framework of a general cultural interest, the formation of cities and early empires, that is the appearance of early civilisations, was by far the most important cultural development. The formation of cities as political and social centres superseding the self sufficient rural domains changed the surface of the earth along a continuous process which not only lasts until today, it becomes extremely dynamic, even highly problematic. It is therefore most important to understand these processes.
However, the conventional history of culture follows the historical method. It works within an established system of periods. Based on dating it interpretes archaeological finds as prehistory with its specific subclasses. Written sources are classified along historically established periods. Compared to the once factual situation, the highly casual conditions of finding sources provide only minor knots of a very wide-meshed interpretative web. And this interpretative web may lack very essential elements because it is based on the condition of the finds, archaeological, monumental or script-historical.
We have critically mentioned the overestimation of the urban and imperial condition in the conventional system of cultural history, the formation of a value system which projects its own parameters on the rural and traditional in folklore and ethnology.
This too is one of the most important aspects of this approach. The formation of early city states is definitely based on previous cultural achievements which are usually not taken into consideration: the formation of sedenatry life. Sedentarisation allowed the permanent existence at the same place and the accumulation of objects, a certain wealth which is the prerequisite of the formation of urban centres within state-controlled spaces.
There is also an institutional aspect which can be reconstructed with the ethno-pre-historical method: the settlement core complex. The agrarian village is not without social hierarchy. The renewal of the fibrous demarcation is often intimately related to the founderline of the houses. Its temporal representant enjoys some sort of hegemony in the village. He is head priest at the festival (owner of the deity) and is some sort of ruler and chief in legal matters of the environment.
These parameters are basic for the present scheme which takes the rural existential space as the basic background for cultural evolution and calls it "hominisation space". It is this spatial condition which was responsible for the creation of man and culture. It is therefore taken as the primary condition for the evolution of culture.
The generic elements for cultural evolution can not be found with the archaeological method. Culture and its highly valued ontological criteria evolved in a medium which we call 'soft prehistory' (Egenter 1992). Soft prehistory implies a type of material culture which was not durable. Processes related to the formation of ontological concepts happened with a type of objects that all belong to the class of [prelithic] fibroconstructive industries.
All the relevant objects for the reconstruction of evolutionary processes survived under favourable conditions until today. Since this paper deals mainly with the focus on the origins of civilisation and so called high cultures from agrarian strata in the following we give only a short list of this 'soft prehistory'. In a recent paper we have described in details how this 'soft prehistory' fits into present anthropology (Egenter 2001) and what its implications are for our concepts of the evolution of culture.
There are four basic classes.
--tree nests of the great apes
--constructivity (Yerkes 1929; ca. 20 mya), hand as 'first tool'
--precision grip of hand
--increased precision of stereoscopic view
--ground nests of the great apes
--beginning of 'rooted' architecture (ca. 16 mya)
--routined production at edge of savannas produces bipedal locomotion
--socio-topo-semantic architecture (territorial functions)
--provision of food and dwelling
--structuro-symbolic architecture (model of polarity)
--polar analogy provides discovery of natural form
--increase of brainsize
--primary aesthetics (PRO-portion)
--harmonious formation of artefacts
--later interpreted in spatially extended way:
--religion (polarity of heaven and earth),
--non-human domestic architecture (shelter for food and animals)
--human domestic architecture (shelter for humans)
--Domestic architecture derived from semantic architecture
--combinations of semantic and domestic architecture
--to form a village or village clusters
In a systematic way this set of traditional forms allows us typological reconstructions which enable us ethno-pre-historically (Wernhardt 1981) plus palaeanthropologically and primatologically to understand and to do research into the evolution of cultural conditions. This method uses
--a system of toposemantic demarcations and
--a system of categorically polar axes.
These are combined to organise
--dwelling space related to demarcations of value
--settlement space related to demarcations of value
--larger territories related to polar organisation of space.
Since cultural perceptions and corresponding activities within these structured spaces obey to the categorically polar organisation, we can reconstruct whole cultures according to their basic spatio-structural conditions. This is so because there is an extensive continuity. The categorical polarity expressed by the demarcations of the 'local cosmos' is transferred to the wider spatial units like village and river valley as well as to the more developed and extended conditions like state (see e.g. 'Upper and Lower Egypt) and vertically to the movements of the planets (Akhenaton syndrome). In this context we can for instance understand modern religion as a categorically polar extension of the primary model (see: Egenter 2000 The Eternally Burning Thornbush).
O. F. BOLLNOW'S EVOLUTION OF SPACE PERCEPTION
Cosmos and Cosmetics O. F. Bollnow's anthropology of space implies an evolution of space perception from narrow environmental settlement conditions to larger concepts like empire and modern universe (latter Europe 14th Century). This is supported by the history of cartography and the study of Kerschensteiner (1962) on the concept of cosmos in classical Greece. According to Kerschensteiner's study the term 'cosmos' described a spatially limited and well balanced order (e.g. military) and was closely related to what we call 'cosmetics' today. The content of the word cosmos followed the evolution of space conception, cosmetics remained on the human face.
This picture represents O. F. Bollnow's thesis of the evolution of space perception (Fig. 5) . It is absolutely basic for our approach. In contrast to the space concepts of physics and astronomy, it maintains that human space perception and conception was not stable, but evolved from narrow local and environmental perceptions to increasing horizontal and vertical dimensions. We called it Bollnow's anthropology of space. We are convinced that any theory of culture can only be taken serious, if it respects this epochal findings of the German philosopher. His 'theory' is confirmed also by other authors.
Above we have shortly discussed a study by Kerschensteiner (1962) on the meaning of the word 'kosmos' in ancient Greece. We hinted to its result: that the word 'kosmos' in ancient Greece meant a local order of harmonious or well ordered character, similarly like we use the term cosmetics today. However European history came to extend its meaning, combining it with dimensions used in astronomy. It thus ended up to mean the endless universe.
It should not be too difficult to see the problems involved. We have to be sceptic in regard to translations of ancient texts. Evidently historians are not conscious of the problem. They project the modern universal concept into ancient texts. We should ask ourselves whether, in regard to what is translated as "creation of the world" in a modern, universal or astronomically 'cosmological' sense, originally simply meant a local, very pragmatic environmental world. Similarly chaos. It must have had the meaning of wilderness, of a local domain, of a fairly environmental territory not yet inhabited. Cosmos and chaos may also imply the simple antithetic condition of ordered and disordered habitat, potentially in the sense of normal order and dissolution of the symbol of the local world.
There are Babylonian 'creation myths' which indicate clearly that their content speaks about a legal situation: someone is founding a settlement by establishing a human settlement order. This foundation act is done with a sacred demarcation made of of reed, where the gods "feel homely". A previously non inhabited 'chaos' is thus prepared to be inhabited. Evidently the founder had some hope to become an important person in this undertaking (Winckler 1906)
The holy house, the Gods' house,
Was not created at sacred place,
Reed did not sprout, tree did not grow.
Bricks were not put, substructure not built,
House not made, settlement not constructed.
Settling not made, living together not made possible.
Nippur not created yet, Ekur not built
Uruk not created, Eanna not built,
Eridu not created yet, Eridu not built,
The place of the holy house, of the Gods' house not created.
The countries altogether were sea.
The floor of the island was flowing water;
Marduk (Ea) constructed a roadwork on the water,
He made earth, poured it on the roadwork,
To form a seat for the Gods to feel homely,
Humans he created ,
The tribe of Aruru peoples he created;
Animals of the field, alive, in the fields he created,
The green of the fields he created,
The lands, the meadows and the reed;
The game cow, its young, the calf,
The sheep, its young, the lamb of the hurdle,
Plantation of fruit trees and woods .....
This is what we call 'history bubble'. For many it might seem to be a minor mistake, a historically illegitimate retroprojection of evolved concepts to early texts. But it has the consequence of distorting our ideas regarding conditions of those times. And, since many today consider these ideas about the past as their guides for the present, for their own modern lives, these distortions tend to motivate many peoples to exploit, attack and even kill others mercilessly for mistaken historical constructs.
In the following we will describe one of the most important structural conditions of this concept, the 'settlement core complex'.
The illustration shows what we called the annually renewed fibroconstructive sign or symbol. Through the sequence of cyclic renewals it is directly related to the foundation of the settlement, initiated by the founder of the settlement. It is renewed yearly, this renewal being functionally at the roots of the cult.
The scheme shows a synchronical (circle) and a diachronical dimension (cyclic line t). In the synchronical dimension the condition and the structure of the sign and its renewal has strong formative impacts on the cultic structure, on the social structure of the village and also on its formal and aesthetic structure in the sense that it functions as model of the perception of the inhabitants. It also has model character for the spatial organisation of the settlement as well as for the design of the environment, that is houses and their parts, instruments and utensils.
In the social sense we see that the village founder or the one who represents his line (honke,founderhouse, bunke,derived house; ujigami,settlement protector deity, ujiko, the foundergroup of a village) is some sort of chief or hegemon within the village due to his primordial act which affects everyone's existence in the village, descendent of the founderline or newcomer. The chief has many roles, head priest in the local rites (kannushi, from kami nushi, owner of the deity), chief in view of local decisions, and somehow uppermost lawyer for local matters. All these functions are based on the fact of the village foundation. Thus, a fairly reasonable and clear situation exists in regard to the connex between ritual structure and social conditions.
Important is the relation to time. The first phase of the ritual, the dissolution of the sign, which - pars pro toto - implies the social, spatial and legal order of the village, produces a temporal anomy, a total disorder or chaos of the village. The concept of ek-stasy is taken verbally in the sense of 'going wild'. Wild movements and dancing take place. The night is preferred. There are dances related to dangerous playing with fire of the fibrous symbols at night. Excessive consumation of alcohol and quasi-nakedness are characteristic for this short period categorically antithetic to the norm. During the second part of the rite, the symbol which represents the order of this local world is newly created, reinstituted at the same place. The norm in the village is re-established. This ekstatic rite or cult and its factual human implications of existential significance are evidently the main factor why such rural village cultures could survive through long periods with a great continuity and sustainability. Norm and temporal ek-stasy seem to correspond to deep human existential condition.
As said above, the categorically polar structure of the fibroconstructive symbol is a per/conceptional model. The way the local inhabitants perceive their environmental landscape is expressed in polar relations like 'wooded mountains and fertile fields' expressed e.g. in a corresponding deity and corresponding rites [jap. yama/ ta no kami], or in the polar structure of their sacred topography. The shrine appears as a place marker. At its back wild and inaccessible woods are found. In its front the open ritual space (keidai) is focused on the front side of the shrine. Entering from the village main street the shrine precinct is defined by the entrance gate of the shrine (torii). And similarly the entrance to the village from outside is defined by a sacred gate (torii) thus defining an access axis focussed on the high ontological value of the shrine and the village-protector-deity (ujigami) dwelling there. At the same time this 'access-place-space' of the main-street of the village is a temporal axis. The most ancient houses are situated at the upper end near the shrine. Newer buildings are found near the village entrace. Many villages in Japan still show this basic categorically polar arrangement.
The same categorically polar order is found within the house. Throughout Japan the traditional rural house is organised in polar relations. This is valid for the roof with its particular forms and symbols. It is also valid for the horizontal plan in which 'lower' working space and kitchen (niwa, 'garden', stamped earth) are separated from the 'higher', ceremonial part. The latter part contains the main sacred places, the 'board of the Gods' (kamidana) where Shinto deities are venerated and the Buddhist altar, which is the focus of Buddhistic festivals and the veneration of ancestors. The floor of the upper part is meticulously covered with grassmats, distinguishing it definitely from the stamped earth floor of the entrance-part (see Egenter1986).
Many tools and instruments too show that their 'design' is based on categorical polarity. In many regions the rice mortar e.g. not only shows the characteristic hour glass form, but the way how the rice is ritually pounded with mobile sticks usually at festivals to make ceremonial rice cakes (o-mochi) shows its structural conception based on categorical polarity.
Most convincing are also all kinds of 'decorations' made for festivals. A glimpse into any of the colourful books on Japanese festivals will convince anybody very quickly: we can say that categorical polarity as expressed by the sacred symbols in the centre of the cyclic festivals can be considered as the aesthetic basics of the whole local world view, or ontology of these Japanese farming villages and their agricultural society.
With these elements of what we call 'settlement core complex' we can finally explain how this civilisational structures developed.
We have prepared a schematic representation of a village cluster (Fig. 8). It shows how the villages are related under the concept of 'Settlement core complex' and its subsystem of 'original shrine and branch shrine' (motomiya, wakamiya) a principle which is basic in the relational structure of Japanese villages. The scheme stands for a process of 100 years. Of course the scheme is purely hypothetical in regard to the factual conditions, but, as a model it can be found in many regions of the approx. 40'000 settlements in Japan. The villages form a network which is characterised by their relations in regard to the founding of the primary village and the following chain of dependent village foundations, respectively in regard to the sacred topography of the whole region. The central line then, in sequence of the most powerful primary village, might become the most important settlement of the group, centre of a region, or if the group is larger, it might become the centre of an early city state.
This is not just an anthropological speculation. Egyptology has found very similar things, namely that the buildup of the Early Kingdom in Egypt was based on villages and their sacred topography. (Kees 1956). Until the 30ies Egyptology was mainly based on the interpretation of mythologies, but then, under the influence of ethnological theories, the interests changed as the villages of the early dynasties were intensively researched. Many egyptologists considered the sacred topography as basic in regard to the buildup of villages, regions and the empire. And the corresponding genealogies of deities were the basic institutional structure for the buildup of the Egyptian kingdom. What we consider as religion in Ancient Egypt reveals in fact as a kind of sacred feudal system related to territorial organisation (Kees 1956).
Similarly in India. We have done research into the sacred topography of about 100 villages of Maharashtra, related to the Holi festival around the month of March. This, and other finds (see below), definitely support the hypothesis that agrarian societies globally show similar structural or spatio-organisational patterns in their village cultures. Important are also the studies of Robert I. Levy: Mesocosm - Hinduism and the Organization of a Traditional Newar City in Nepal (1992), in particular the chapters 7 (Symbolic Organization of Space) and 8 (Bhaktapur's Pantheon).
In Japan we can very clearly show processes of this type. The cults we find in the villages are related to a general system of deities which are called 'ujigami'. This means clan-deity, deity of a family group or deity of a settlement. This term plays an enormous role in ancient Japan. It was of central importance in the 8th century in the imperial chronicles related to the formation of the early state. Buddhism was introduced to legitimate the formation of the state. On the level of Shinto deities, corresponding superseding processes took place. In this context the names of local deities are mentioned with fairly evident expressions related to reed materials or spatial place marking. It is clear that these names correspond to what we still find today in the agrarian villages as vital traditions of the ujigami cult.
This is a similar but now definitely hypothetical scheme of state and city-formation for the Ancient Near East using the sign of the deity Ishtar, the ancient protector deity of the city of Uruk, one of the earliest cities of the Sumerians (Fig. 9).
There are important indicators (early Sumerian script tablets) that there too, similar local systems formed regional systems according to the 'settlement core complex', which finally form an imperial system with state centre and state god, Ishtar in this case.
This is a summary of what we wanted to explain about the development of village institutions called 'settlement core complex' and how it develops first into regional systems of organisation. Finally it may develop on a higher level into a theocratic state system. Most important: with this approach we can understand how the particular role of the pharaoh or king as head priest, ruler and top lawyer has its roots in a simple functionally rooted form of the predynastic or even neolithic agrarian sedentary village.
A comparatively homologous look at 'different' cultures
With this background we can look again in a cross culturally comparative sense, asking ourselves how we look at cultures. Later on we will show the same schemes representing our different interpretation, comparing them with the conventional structure of the history of several civilisations of the world.
Usually, cultures are studied with differentiating methods. The inevitable result is: all cultures are fundamentally different. Of course there are different languages and different styles of life but structural conditions are strikingly similar. The way the environment is organised, for instance, further, aesthetic principles, social structure and worldview. This can partially be explained by the fact that agricultural conditions of life were (and still are to some extent) very similar all over the traditional world.
The fact that agricultural societies are highly similar in various regions of the world is something which was hardly emphasised in cultural studies. If one comes from European conditions to Japan, one suddently becomes aware that the farmers have the same cyclic time, they have the same tendency to mark important settlement places with toposemantic signs. There is a direct correspondence between maypoles erected in several regions of the Alps during specific local festivals, and the tectonic symbols we found densely widespread all over Japan. In addition the concept of categorical polarity as a kind of elementary aesthetics, the ways the landscape is perceived in polar relations is also strikingly similar. Finally, also the strong local territorialism, the remarkable local identity are common factors.
The plate below (Fig. 10) shows graphically how our conventional view emphasises the domain of history where we speak of high culture, of civilisation. Below is prehistory, sources become scarce and fragmentary. It becomes difficult to imagine how culture looked like when it was vital. Therefore, with early monumentalism and early script we relate the concept 'origins of civilised culture' (see OC) in various culturogeographic regions. In this circumstances the term prehistory somehow implies: our cultural identity is stopped. We can not really relate to this fragmentary condition.
With the following plate (Fig. 11) we are using the same cross-cultural scheme. However, it introduces our concept of semantic architecture, all what we know for the moment about this phenomenon in various cultures. The cross-cultural comparison reveals a striking fact: In all our cultural domains we find more or less the same type of toposemantic demarcation and often in politically very important frameworks. In the following some remarks regarding the particular cultures.
TF 1a: We have mentioned the situation in Japan. There we worked on the individual village level, on regional levels and on the national level, ethnologically and historically. A tremendous wealth of materials can be found which implies that in prehistoric times each village had such demarcations on the village level, but also on the level of the houses, of the fields, in the woods. It must have been an absolutely dense culture, all these fibrous demarcations being cultically renewed in temporally fixed cycles. Japanese Books on festivals published in the 1960ies give us a fairly good impression about what these traditions really meant in Japan. A tremendous manifold of forms and behaviours, of accumulated vital history, memories about battles, local events, etc. A tremendous and gigantic happening which only few people in Japan really know on the level of the whole national territories. But in the settlements it strongly formed the identity of the inhabitants (Egenter 1980, 1981, 1982, 1992, 1994).
TF 1: Surprisingly we find such structures also in Ancient China, first scratched on bones, as the primary form of Chinese script. It suggests a new explanation of the origins of Chinese characters. Was early script related to fibroconstructive signs as we know this also from early Sumerian and Creto-Minoan cultures? (Egenter 1984). But the most impressive source is the MingTang hut which was considered to mark the centre of the empire close to the palace of the emperor and which represented the order principles according to which the whole empire was ruled by the emperors' administration. An archaeologist and sinologist who did research into symbolic representations in ancient China tells us that, in spite of the tendency to idealise such early structures as palaces and the like, this hut might have been very primitively made at those times (Hermann Köster, Symbolik des Chinesischen Universismus 1958)
TF 2: In India too we find similar toposemantic demarcations, historically most important probably the Agni Altar, described in details in the vedic texts (see Mircea Eliade) and Agni as deity intimately related to the hearth in the house, but also representative for the fire (or flame) in the wider and narrower sense. In modern India we found important traditional sources, like the Holi Poles of the Coastal Zone of Maharashtra. This fieldwork revealed that in about 100 villages between Mumbai and Goa sacred pillars are made using a freshly cut, relatively thin and straight tree trunk of mango (or other types of trees), wrapping it closely with twigs and leaves of mango and the like and decorating it at the top with strips of a white bark. Specific local forms are fixed to other forms like circle and cross. These symbols are made by either male groups related to the whole village or smaller territorial units marking in this way their communal territory or their important agricultural fields. The pillars will stand at the designated place for about one month and are then cut about one meter above ground, so that the place remains marked throughout the year. Evidently this traditional cult must have its origins in prevedic times, that is, before there were elaborately built temples and anthropomorphous deities. Note that the term 'sacred topography' is used in relation to Vidiyarthy, a well-known Indian anthropologist, who considers the 'sacred topography' of village cultures as basic for the understanding of their traditional - as well as their historical - past. In spite of strong anthropomorphous developments in Indian religion, the toposemantic character of local cults remained very strong. Unfortunately Indian cultural studies are dominated by history. Folklore studies are underdeveloped. Intensified research in remote districts would be enormously rewarding. India is still to be discovered. In the framework of some ethnological fieldworks, we found striking things. For example in Orissa, we documented a beautiful agrarian cult where the female deity (Laxmi) consists of a bundle of rice plants. In many Hindu temples in Southern India as well as in Singapore we found festivals related to copper, bronze or wooden columns representing a deity. They were all 'decorated' in the same way using ritual grasses (dharba) in a specific cult related to the origins of the temple. Evidently the cults referred to the times when the columns were factually made of such grasses.
TF 3: In the Ancient Near East and Egypt we are flooded with such sources. There is a tremendous amount of materials, life trees, all kinds of stelae etc.. They all have this fibroconstructive texture. But they were classified very superficially and erroneously as 'life trees' and the like, which suggests a natural form. But in fact the artificial character of these representations is absolutely clear. There are knots and consequently they are evidently constructed. We have to do with semantic architecture of the fibroconstructive type. We can therefore assume that processes were of simillar character as we suggested for Asia and Japan in particular.
TF 4: Ancient Greece: A surprising source is Pausanias' citing an ancient verbal tradition about the Apollon temple in Delphi, a sacred site of the evolved monumental type known to most peoples interested in Ancient Greek culture. But Pausanias tells us that he had met with local traditions saying that the primordial sanctuary of Apollon was originally a hut made with fern-plants as building materials. Evidently it belonged into our class of fibroconstructive semantic architecture. For those who know Roscher's Omphalos studies (1913, 1915, 1918), this is not surprising. Similar toposemantic symbols, a stone which supports a fibrous network or hut must have been widespread in Ancient Greece. In Ancient Rome too, many deities were intimately related to particular places, to doors and gates, to the hearth and the house. The hearth of the round temple of Vesta was also considered the state-hearth. The cyclically renewed fire, which was kept burning continuously throughout the year by six vestal virgins, was considered holy and intimately related to the deity who had no anthropomorphous figure. Remarkable is also Bellona, the deity of war closely related to Mars. A small column near her temple was used to declare war to some non-Roman territory. This was done 'symbolically' by the priest of Jupiter Feretrio by throwing a lance into it.
TF 5: In the Germanic domain we find Charlemagne who in the 8th century (772) attacks the Saxons and destroys their sanctuary, in its centre a freestanding central column called 'Irminsul'. Very likely it was made of wood, with a double wing-like upper part which ends in spirals at its ends. Its representation can still be seen on a relief which was hewn into the rocks of some sort of an open air temple in todays place called Externsteine. The column is broken, forming a horizontal bridge with its upper part on which Nikodemus, a Christian saint (Joh 3,1) stands stretching out the Christian cross in a triumphal gesture.
TF 6: In European folklore we find great quantities of surviving traditions having the cyclic reinstallation of fibroconstructive toposemantic demarcations as the centre of their festive activities. Maypoles are frequently found in the regions of Central Alps (Kapfhammer 1977). In Italy, so called 'falo', 'fireheaps' are often artfully constructed . They have many traditional ceremonial functions in the centre of the villages and then are finally burnt. In the region around Salzburg we found rich traditions with so called 'pest candles', that is, poles richly decorated with flower guarlands (Kapfhammer 1977). They are produced in farmhouses around the village centre and when finished, are carried to the church. There they are set up axially in front of the altar in the church space and vertically below the baroque type of painted 'heavens'. After the main service they are carried along in a procession devoted to visiting a series of traditional border markers of the village. A bridge, and other points demarcated with small chapels along important village-paths are visited in solemnity. The pest candles carried by young men in special leather work around their shoulders evidently represent the primary stage of the custom now dominated by the church. And the important spots of the local sacred topography too, now marked with christian symbols, must have been part already of the pre-christian territorial demarcation system - including the location of the church.
In archaeology such demarcations can be assumed under the name of 'tectiformes'. They exist in various types and forms. Most striking are fairly explicit 'drawings' of the wooden structure of huts. Others rather correspond to the compact fibroconstructive type. Many are also resembling human figures with their characteristic hourglass form, which, however, can be taken as an indicator of the fibroconstructive technique using fibrous stalks. If binding is tough, the cylindrical form tends to reduce the diametre at the postition of the binding string. The outlines then express an hourglass form. There is a study about this which the author contributed to a publication of the Neanderthal-Museum, Mettmann, near Duesseldorf. The publication as a whole is the outcome of a conference on the organisation of space in prehistorical camps and settlements (Egenter 2003).
Let us shortly sum up: In seven cultures we have found some sort of a very specific contact zone between tradition and history. The traditions are either still vital or were once vital but have been historically transmitted as sculptural, pictorial or textural examples of prehistoric demarcations.
In any case they can be attributed to a fibroconstructive 'handicraft' tradition. Note that we are not just dealing with basketry and the like. All these objects are of high ontological value among the traditional societies that produced them. They represent gods, deities and the like, represent spatial or territorial concepts of order and are related to early political systems of the theocratic type.
History deals rather negatively with these phenomena. They are considered from the higher status of a richly monumental and written history, high culture, civilisation. The perspective is rather looking down on these things, they are part of primitive beliefs, superstition, an expression of primitive cultural conditions.
In terms of scientific thought this is disastrous. Any connex is apriori denied. Phenomena are covered under a value system which runs from high civilisation down to traditional cultures without history.
But, of course this can be changed. We can question the value system and objectively ask whether there is a connex, and if so, how this relation developed and what it produced. This is what we are trying to discuss in the next chapter. The approach is based on a discovery: namely that categorically polar perception and conception is much more widespread than henceforth known. We can use the combination of the physical demarcation and the corresponding polar coordination of categories for postulating a primary pre-analytic system of cognition. It was not only widespread in China as YinYang or Daoism, it was also important in Ancient Egypt (Maat) and very likely in many regions of the Ancient Near East. Heraclitus still was definitely polar. We discover the so called Presocrats as a transitional field between polar and analytical cognition. In the European Middle Ages it was known as 'coincidence of opposites' (coincidentia oppositorum) and played an important role in religious architecture. For instance the Hagia Sophia, or sacred buildings in medieval Illuminations; see Egenter 'The Historicism of quantified Proportion' under the following URL: http://home.worldcom.ch/~negenter/00AA2_WittkoHist_0_Int.html.
In the history of culture as well as in cultural anthropology (or ethnology or folklore studies), categorical polarity can be taken as an indicator for the contemporaneous presence of fibroconstructive toposemantic demarcations. This postulate is based on the concept of categorical polarity as a primary system of cognition and its derivation from semantic architecture.
As a whole we gain a new 'ontological' model of cultural evolution in which fibroconstructive toposemantic demarcations acted as 'creators' of cyclic cult-systems with
1) territorial implications, namely the establishment of a nuclear border and the projection of its polar code to define the territory of the settlement.
2) social implications, namely the formation of a founderline and the triple hegemonial function of its contemporary representant
3) aesthetic implications on environment, house, artefacts and perception of natural form
4) metaphysical implications, namely interpreting human existence in the local world
All these factors combine to form a 'local worldview' or 'local ontology', a local 'cosmos' (Kerschensteiner 1962).
So far the theoretical program. In the following we discuss these points in regard to the cultural domains we have been working on.
New 'soft prehistory' produces new theories in Art, Philosophy and Religion
The following plate (Fig. 12) is complementary to Fig. 11, it indicates new theoretical perspectives produced by connecting tradition and history, that is, fibrous demarcations of high ontological value with concepts known through history in the transitional fields outlined in the plate. The points will be commented one by one.
TF 0: In Japan this model can be perfectly reconstructed due to its surviving "neolithic" agrarian traditions which are unique in the world. They can be used to fundamentally question Western humanities in regard to their concepts of the evolution of culture. The sources of Japanese 'aesthetic metaphysics' are not imported from China. This was postulated by a historistic attitude which does not know the rural sources of Japan. The fascinating aestheticism of Japanese culture has its roots in its age-old rural village cultures which are unfortunately about to disappear now. Important is the very high level of Japanese folklore studies of the Yanagita school. But, unfortunately these detailed studies do not enter into Western Japanology. Main reason: folklore studies are considered of little value in Western humanities.
TF 1: In Ancient China too we find strong indicators of the existence of polar cognition. Mainly in the ancient philosophical works of Lao Tsu and Tschuang Tsu. YinYang concepts and Daoism as philosophies of an all-embracing polar harmony were preserved by Chinese thought into our days. Unfortunately, in Western translations, these concepts are presented in a highly abstracted and idealised 'pseudo-theological' interpretation (e.g. Richard Wilhelm: I Ging 1956). The origins of these concepts have to be attributed to empirical sources like the Ming'Tang hut rather, than to early ideas about the cosmos in universal dimensions (Köster 1958).
TF 2: India and Hinduism: in the Vedic tradition the syllable Aum (or OM) shows a similar complex. It can be read in analogy to our examples if it is understood in the framework of a local 'cosmos' in the sense of the initial implantation of a human order in an environment not yet inhabited before. In vedic scriptures Aum appears as first manifest medium in an environment of non-manifest Brahman. In this context AUM implies cultural origins. It also represents high ontological values. It is considered as holy, related to deities. Gods and godesses are considered as 'Aumkar' (Form of Aum) meaning: they are limitless (analaogy to cosmos). But, in the aesthetic sense of the local cosmos, this limitlessness can also be related to cosmos in the local sense as 'order' (see Kerschensteiner 1962: 'kosmos' in Greek antiquity). Categorical polarity is an essential characteristic of AUM. 'Vibration' as dynamic category is considered inherent in all things. It is not very likely, that this concept developed in a perception of universal dimensions. Rather we can assume safely that the concept developed in the domain of human activities. Those who think that our interpretation distorts the real meaning should consult the ancient Hindu scriptures. Most of their content is closely related to a very narrow human scale (Whitney 1905, Hillebrandt 1897/1981). Very likely the cyclic processual structure of the cult too is reflected in the idea of different stages being connected like in the following. Brahma (creation) -> Vishnu (preservation) -> Shiva (destruction) returning to Brahma. (See Charpentier 1932)
TF 3: Political theocracy and social hierarchy developed from structural prototypes of village culture. This is another hypothesis we have emphasised before. If we manage to support it in general, we will have to revise established principles of Western humanities regarding high culture and civilisation. If we can show that there was a soft prehistory which produced sedentary structures and high ontologies, the factual creation of culture will have to be attributed to neolithic agrarian village cultures and not to the social strata conventionally related to the early civilisations as maintained by archaeology and history. It implies a fundamental shift. The development of civilisation is not a human creation or invention anymore, it is rather something that happened to humans in many places in similar ways, and it happened not from particular spiritual dispositions. It rather happened in the framework of certain activities in which material culture played a fundamental role. Maybe this insight could be of great importance in a modern society that extremely overestimates its own capacities to control the existential conditions of its own vital environments..
TF 4: In the domain of Greece we have very explicit sources in the history of philosophy showing how the transition from the primary type of cognition, that is categorical polarity represented by Heraclitus as the last representant of oriental thought, evolved through Parmenides' generalisation into the absolute concept of 'being' and then was confronted with the contrasting concept of the atomists finally ending in the analytical dichotomy of Plato and Aristotle. Plato suggesting a spatially extended metaphysical concept of his priority and reality character of ideas which contrasted with Aristotles' concept of analytical empirism, suggesting induction and logic generalisation as human access to knowledge. Thus Plato and Aristotle can be considered as 'united antipodes'. And as such contrahents they have in fact conditioned the whole history of European thought. In a first phase Neo-Platonism became the basis for the buildup of the theocracy of the Roman catholic church and, later Aristotleßs empirism became important for the buildup of natural sciences. Note: Descartes' concept of 'res cogitans' and 'res extensa' liberated the object world, and in particular the human body in regard to anatomy, from its strict legation to religion (God's creation). But, on the other hand it cemented the humanities as 'spiritual sciences' (German: Geisteswissenschaften). They were thus widely kept in the conservative framework of narrow historisms. We have made a scheme which shows a comparison between the Western and Eastern systems of cognition in regard to polarity and analytics.
In Asia we can say that polarity was kept and developed nearly until today whereas in the Mediterranean domain and Europe it was present in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia but was dissolved in Ancient Greece as mentioned above by the development of analytics which split the thought tradition into an idealistic line (Plato, Neo Platonism) and an empirical one (Aristotelism). This division is our highly problematic Eurocentric or Western cognitive historistic heritage.
Baack to Fig. 12:
TF 5: Then, regarding religion. Based on the Hebrew theocratic constitution the Roman church constructed religion as supra-imperial theocratic constitution to dominate Franconian kings. Religion in fact originated from an ancient territorio-political constitution originally expressed as local model of the polar harmony of heaven and earth. With early states this evolved into early theocracy. 'God rules', the key to understanding religion! Theology never really deals with this most important political aspect, but uses a highly idealised terminology which in fact covers up any potential insight into the factual origins of religion. In Ancient Egypt the concept of 'God' can be demonstrated first as a monumentalisation of such rites of predynastic territorial demarcations which had constitutional character. Later, with Mose and the Jewish tradition, this abstraction was fixed with script and could be transmitted over long times and wider spaces. By clarifying the ambivalence of the concept of religion between belief and ancient theocratic politics we can establish a more realistic image of the significance of religion in modern life.
There is a strange paradox related to this constitutional structure of religion. Copernic and his followers of research into the universal dimensions of space allowed the 'Pharaoh of Rome' to spatially extend the antique constitution of the polarity of heaven and earth into global dimensions. Paradoxically the church attacked Copenic's theory because it basically questioned the idea that the world was the centre of the universe. But on the other side, Copernic's theory of the wider extension of the universe extended also the concept of 'god's country' into a wider universe and thus automatically conversed the whole globe into God's territory. The Roman church theoretically became its theocratic owner. Note: Evidently 'globalisation' is not a new concept!
TF 6: Throughout the history of states and urban centralisms architects and artists had been the 'monumentalizers of liturgic traditions' in regard to temples, cathedrals and palaces. With Renaissance this 'theocratic' position became profaned. But, western art still maintains the historistic and elitarian post-medieval Renaissance myth of the profaned creator genius. This critical statement is a postulate against the combination of modern architecture and the art historian, a combination which is highly problematic, particularly in regard to architecture. It is an autocratic system within society which has a definitely pseudo-theological character. On one hand the art-historian acts as 'high-priest' celebrating the architect of his choice as a godlike figure creating new worlds out of his grandiose power of imagination. He is allmighty like God: God did not need knowledge for creating the world. Therefore no research needed in architecure. No research about the impacts of architecture on humans in the anthropological sense. The architect thinks with his pencil. His task is design. On the other hand the art historian condemns the less gifted into the hell of namelessness. Again: subjective value judgements!
But the art historian is not only the main selector who decides about quality merely based on subjective aesthetics. On the other hand he is educated as a scientist and historian. He therefore rationalises the architectural expression of the architect. Model: Wittkower's term proportion as 'mathematical' proportion. Among others this superficial conviction transformed modern cities into formal deserts. And further, as a historian, he sets the time dimensions of how architecture has to be studied: as an aesthetic creation in the framework of the (written!) history of the art-artist scheme. 'Theory of architecture' remains a miserably limited history of written ideas about architectural design!
These are just some punctual ideas to illustrate this new method of studying anthropology with an architectural background newly defined in the widest sense of anthropology. Maybe we managed to show that it might be a very fructitious approach.
In the wider framework of an anthropology of habitat and architecture we outlined a new evolutionary concept of the formation of early civilisations from sedentary agrarian societies. The concept is not based on conventional history proper, but uses a wider ethno-pre-historic approach which includes constructive traditions surviving from very ancient times into the present.
The most striking result is shown schematically in the plate above (Fig. 14). We call it 'Heptadent Thesis'. In contrast to the historian and archaeologist who both list sources and objects according to their dating into temporal sequence as basics of their interpretation of processes, we followed an entirely different way. Working ethno-pre-historically, a new 'soft prehistory' (Egenter 1986) was postulated, its justification legitimated by rich finds of textures indicating a [prelithic] fibroconstructive material culture and in particular its most important class of (topo-) semantic architecture. Due to its socio-toposemantic characteristics and its autonomously formed structurosmybolic model character (categorical polarity) it is supposed to have played an important role in the formation of sedentary existence of agrarian societies essentially in neolithic times, but also later and all over the world. Both characteristics were of fundamental importance in the framework of local settlement constitutions, resp. in what we described as 'settlement core complex'.
The new method shows the 'roots' of the contents dealt with in conventional disciplines. What the historian attributes to his finds can now be considered as much earlier innovation. What the archaeologist finds is in fact a primarily fibroconstructive prototype which has been monumentalised with durable materials like hewn stone or formed metals. Most important: the design, the innovation of the form, the 'spiritual' aspect is not coincident anymore with the archaologists source. It is temporally much deeper. The factual 'creation' has to be attributed to agrarian pre-dynastic village cultures which have practically left no traces. Because their material culture was not durable. The highly venerated 'high culture' is reduced to merely a 'copyist'. We have to revise our cultural value schemes'.
However the most provoking aspect of this approach consists in regard to the conventional disciplines of anthropology or cultural research as listed above schematically. We gain a new hypothesis about the origins of main contents of at least 7 conventional disciplines, and, most striking, they might have their origins all from the same source: semantic architecture.
On first view this sounds absurd. But if one becomes aware, first, of the importance and great diffusion of the pre-analytic system of cognition called 'polarity' in many cultures and its autonomously structured nucleus, semantic architecture, and second, if one tries to reconstruct the importance such cyclically renewed fibrous structures might have had in the agrarian village culture of Japan, and third, if in Japan one becomes aware of their influence on the whole culture, then, one will have to accept the potential as fairly realistic.
The same is valid for the Ancient Near East and Egypt as well as sequent cultures of the Euro-Mediterranean circle. We have enough sources to critically question the conventional historical methods and interpretations as 'History Bubble' and to construct a systematic concept based on the demarcated organisation of space, or, early ritual types of local territorial constitutions.
In another sense the scheme says something important: Architecture, art and aesthetics played a very important role in the 'creation' of sedentary culture and human identity! And this is not a matter of subjective imagination of 'creative designers', but much wider and deeper! Namely, of a profoundly empirical and habitat-related understanding for the anthropological conditions of man. It was not a subjectively invented aesthetics. It was an art based on cyclically experienced knowledge of the common origins of art and man, a relation which was of a tremendous sustainability because - in whatever categories and on all levels possible - its nuclear philosophy implied harmonisation of opposites. It thus allowed evolution of culture and survival of man over thousands of years until today. But today - on a global level - we are not so sure anymore whether our human culture turned into an all exploiting analytical technology will be able to guarantee this continuous sustainability.