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It could be argued—and I will later—that humans are even born dancing. Given this universality, my case for dance as a vital art begins with a peek back before the emergence of the species homo sapiens , years ago , to try to discern where and when and why the practice of dancing took shape as human.

Dancing at the Dawn of Agriculture - Yosef Garfinkel - Google Books

Although it is not clear exactly which hominid line gave rise to homo sapiens , the most likely contender at present is homo erectus , which emerged 1. Dancing leaves no fossil record—or not that we have yet discerned. The earliest artistic representations of human figures dancing date to 40, BCE, long after homo sapiens began walking the earth.

Thus, much of what we must do is piece together a story from what scholars have been able to tell from hominid fossils, unearthed artifacts, and DNA analysis about the anatomy, physiology, and social practices of a distinctively human species. While the evidence is scarce, models for making a case for dance as human are not. As the hominid fossil record grows more complete and complex, anthropologists are proposing candidates for the activity that catalyzed the evolution of homo sapiens. It is the act of cooking, he argues, that created the conditions in which humans could develop our characteristic anatomy, physiology, psychology, and even social behavior—most notably, our big brains.

Wrangham bases his argument on a careful analysis of a human digestive system. Humans have smaller mouths, tiny lips, weaker jaws, smaller teeth, stomachs, and large intestines. So how, he asks, could humans make up the difference? Cooking, Wrangham proposes. The primary significance of cooking, he argues, is to increase the energy and calories available from food. Cooking gelatinizes starch; denatures protein, and softens everything, leading to easier, faster processing and absorption.

In particular, heat turns collagen, the connective tissue of meat, into jelly Seeking to identify when the changes in human physiology associated with eating cooked food occurred, Wrangham predicts that they occurred at the time of homo erectus, 1. Explaining why the cranial capacity of the homo line continued to grow beyond its erectus size into a sapiens size, Wrangham dismisses theories about more efficient hunting, and instead points to the discovery of new cooking strategies, such as earth ovens and cooking in containers In the final sections of the book, he hypothesizes that the advent of cooking also gave rise to a gender division of labor, seen in Cooking enables hunting It enables hunters to range far and wide.

When reading this account, several thoughts come to mind. For one, I want to make a similar argument for dancing. I want to argue that homo erectus or some equivalent began a practice of rhythmic bodily movement that proved critical in supporting the development of a human brain. Is there such evidence? Second, I want to ask whether the process of learning to cook may have co-evolved with the ability to dance.

Cooking takes time.

Dancing at the Dawn of Agriculture - eBook

It takes attention. Cooking creates a circle—a center around which humans may move, for warmth, for amusement, for display, while waiting for food, as well as tending the fire.


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So important was dance that scenes of dancing are among the oldest and most persistent themes in Near Eastern prehistoric art, and these depictions of dance accompanied the spread of agriculture into surrounding regions of Europe and Africa. In this pathfinding book, Yosef Garfinkel analyzes depictions of dancing found on archaeological objects from the Near East, southeastern Europe, and Egypt to offer the first comprehensive look at the role of dance in these Neolithic — BC societies.

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In the first part of the book, Garfinkel examines the structure of dance, its functional roles in the community with comparisons to dance in modern pre-state societies , and its cognitive, or symbolic, aspects. This analysis leads him to assert that scenes of dancing depict real community rituals linked to the agricultural cycle and that dance was essential for maintaining these calendrical rituals and passing them on to succeeding generations.

In the concluding section of the book, Garfinkel presents and discusses the extensive archaeological data—some depictions of dance—on which his study is based. The Dance Analysis Chapter 1. Introduction Chapter 2. Structural Analysis of the Dance Chapter 3. Functional Analysis of the Dance Chapter 4. Cognitive Analysis of the Dancing Scenes Chapter 5.

Conclusions Part II. The Data Chapter 6. So important was dance that sce. As the nomadic hunters and gatherers of the ancient Near East turned to agriculture for their livelihood and settled into villages, religious ceremonies involving dancing became their primary means for bonding individuals into communities and households into villages.

So important was dance that scenes of dancing are among the oldest and most persistent themes in Near Eastern prehistoric art, and these depictions of dance accompanied the spread of agriculture into surrounding regions of Europe and Africa. In this pathfinding book, Yosef Garfinkel analyzes depictions of dancing found on archaeological objects from the Near East, southeastern Europe, and Egypt to offer the first comprehensive look at the role of dance in these Neolithic BC societies.

In the first part of the book, Garfinkel examines the structure of dance, its functional roles in the community with comparisons to dance in modern pre-state societies , and its cognitive, or symbolic, aspects. This analysis leads him to assert that scenes of dancing depict real community rituals linked to the agricultural cycle and that dance was essential for maintaining these calendrical rituals and passing them on to succeeding generations.

In the concluding section of the book, Garfinkel presents and discusses the extensive archaeological data—some depictions of dance—on which his study is based. About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. Customer Reviews. Write a review. See any care plans, options and policies that may be associated with this product.

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