The oldest narrative scene

It is exciting what archaeologists discovered in Turkey. It would be the oldest narrative scene. Apparently, it tells an old story. It appeared at the Sayburç site and is 11,000 years old.

The two panels depict people interacting with dangerous animals. In one, a human male clutches his phallus as leopards approach from both sides. In the other panel, a squatting man holding a rattlesnake or snake confronts a bull. The teeth of the leopards and the horns of the bull are emphasized. And the danger in the scenes is highlighted.

The oldest narrative scene is carved in stone.
The oldest narrative scene is carved in stone.

Coherent narrative

These are unique images in the sense that they appear to be related to each other. The two panels are horizontally adjacent, creating a progressive scene. Each presents similar images: someone confronting dangerous animals. Indicates a coherent narrative.

“These are the earliest known examples of such a holistic scene,” said archaeologist Eylem Özdogan of Istanbul University. “This was a picture of the stories of the people of that period.” The discovery was featured in the journal Antiquity. It was made during excavations at Sayburç, beneath a modern village in Turkey’s Sanliurfa province.

Excavations revealed that the site was inhabited during the Neolithic, in the ninth millennium BC. This period saw a major transition. People changed from a mobile hunter-gatherer lifestyle to agriculture. And they were already living in long-term settlements.

The scenes show a coherent narrative.
Scenes show a coherent narrative.

Mythical figures

Archaeologists uncovered several residential buildings, as well as a large communal structure. This may have served as a place for special gatherings. It has benches along the walls. The earliest narrative scene is carved on the backs of some of these benches.

“The characteristic figures of the time coexist and form a scene,” they indicate. Perhaps they were mythical figures, a fundamental part of the community’s traditions. The communal building is still partially excavated. Therefore, it is possible that more scenes from this ancient history may yet be uncovered.

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