Turkey discovered the work with the first narrative scene of the story

The first known work with narrative intentions was discovered in Turkey: on one side the depiction of a man holding his penis, flanked by two leopards, on the other a man with a bull. The discovery dates back to 2021 but was only published yesterday.

Discovery in Turkey the oldest narrative scene known: it is a relief, from 11,000 years ago, found in the archaeological site of Sayburç (south-east of the country), which depicts a man holding his penis in his right hand, sandwiched between two leopards flanking him. The discovery of the carved scene dates back to 2021, but the discovery was published yesterday in the scientific journal Antiquitiesedited by Cambridge University Press.

The work, explains the author of the article Antiquities, Eylem Özdoğan, “reflects the complex relationship between human beings, the natural world and the animal life that surrounded them during the transition to a sedentary lifestyle”. The newly discovered scene indeed presents itself with one narrative integrity which separates it from other contemporary images, and constitutes the most detailed representation of a Neolithic “history” found to date in the Near East, bringing us closer to the Neolithic people and their world. Excavations at the Sayburç site began in 2021, and the relief is carved into the wall of a building itself carved out of limestone.

The relief features several figures but only the male one holding his penis is carved in high relief. The rounded nubs on the tops of her legs appear to represent her knees, as if bent forward. Although her head is damaged, a round face, large ears, bulging eyes, and full lips are evident. In particular, a triangular necklace or collar is noteworthy. This male figure is faced on each side by two leopards, shown in profile. Their mouths are open, teeth visible, and their long tails are curled towards their bodies. The leopard in the west is depicted with a phallus, while the other is not. There is also another scene with a second human figure, also depicted with the phallus clearly visible, in a slightly crouched position, with its back turned to the first three figures. His raised and open left hand has six fingers, while his right holds a snake, or rattle, with its head turned to the ground. This second figure is represented next to a bull.

According to Antiquities, Sayburç’s reliefs correspond to the Neolithic style and themes. The phalluses are the only elements that identify the sex of the figures, and the emphasis is placed on the predatory and aggressive aspects of the animal world, as represented by the depiction of dangerous characteristics, such as teeth and horns, which has also been observed in other sites of the ‘area. The Sayburç reliefs, however, differ in that the figures form a narrative, with the two individual scenes appearing to be related to each other. The comparable stature of humans and animals in Sayburç’s relief suggests a new dimension recognized in the narratives of Pre-Pottery Neolithic people. The figures were undoubtedly characters worthy of description, according to what we read about Antiquities. The fact that they are depicted together in an ongoing scene, however, suggests that one or more related events or stories are being told. In oral traditions, stories, rituals, and strong symbolic elements formed the foundation of ideologies that shaped society beyond spirituality. It is therefore thought that the reliefs may be a reflection of a collective memory that wanted to keep its values ​​alive.

Turkey discovered the work with the first narrative scene of the story

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Turkey discovered the work with the first narrative scene of the story