Paleolithic Finger Fluting and the Question of Writing

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Time and Mind: the Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness, and Culture

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Discussions of Paleolithic Cave Art rarely, if ever, explore the possibilities of evidence of writing and yet finger flutings (lines made by fingers in soft moonmilch or clay on cave walls and ceilings) raise significant questions as to what is writing and what internal structures would need to be evident within fluted panels to constitute writing. In this paper, the author shares findings from the French caves of Rouffignac and Gargas, and nine caves in Cantabrian, Spain. This paper does not pose to claim that finger flutings are necessarily writing, but instead raises the question of what elements would need to be present for them to be considered writing, and asks what would be the implications if they did.