Premiering in 2020
In its most basic abstraction, the language of prehistoric art speaks of life: balance, fertility and abundance …
and of death: a return to the earth for recycling.
It celebrates a profound respect for the Earth and Mother Nature,
even as it foreshadows a dangerous turning point.
Originally prepared for the Op-Ed Program in association with the American Anthropological Association.
Roots of Environmental Impact Seen in Prehistory
Linda C. Eneix
The road to human-induced climate change started before history with the biggest revolution of all time. . . the one that led to civilization. It brought with it an insidious affliction.
Thousands of years before the first pyramid went up in Egypt, architecture was born. There was a moment when, for the first time, people came together and moved great stone megaliths into a pre-planned pattern enclosing important ceremonial and ritual spaces as they wanted them, as opposed to how they found them. Those valiant builders changed the landscape and the world forever.
Soon after came agriculture with cultivation of crops and domestication of livestock. Genetic studies source both to the same area of the first monuments. These two explosive advancements laid the groundwork for modern society and the values that developed with it. A controlled food supply and agricultural surplus allowed for permanent settlement instead of the need to keep moving to follow nourishment. Folks could start storing things, saving things, improving things, collecting things. Innovation was built upon the knowledge of those who came before; the settled lifestyle thrived and spread. Long before the invention of writing and history, waves of migration flowed through the Mediterranean and overland in Europe, carrying families, seeds and livestock. Later in time people from Europe emigrated, colonized and mixed with indigenous people, spreading their cultural traditions across the planet.
There was a turning point in this Neolithic Revolution. After countless tens of thousands of years of living in the old ways, we stopped seeing ourselves as part of nature, and we saw that we had power. We could reshape the earth and make the spaces that we wanted. The power was intoxicating and irresistible. We could make the land produce more food. We could bring down forests and reroute rivers. We could find easier, faster, better ways for doing everything and the earth gave us all the tools we needed. There was nothing we couldn’t do. Eat better, live better, grow smarter right into the high tech of the 21st century. To our doom, all this “advancement” came without a manual for ethical use. It accelerated too fast for anyone to weigh the consequences.
Today, all the symptoms and effects of a full-blown addiction are clear. Its hallmark is the word “more”. One could add easier, faster, and newer. To make things worse, modern western society does everything possible to enable and encourage this disease with inescapable advertising that sneaks it down our throats. Nobody wants to think about the environmental trade-off for the processing, production, shipping, marketing, packaging, delivery and disposal of all the unnecessary things folks buy every day. Most of us are woefully detached from sources and processes. We don’t think about the part that isn’t in front of us, such as depletion of world resources and toxins pouring into air, soil and water. We are “using like there’s no tomorrow,” and that’s what addiction does. The wealthy sufferer who lives in pursuit of more wealth is not the only sufferer. Repercussions of thoughtless consumption are hitting everyone, including people who are already struggling to meet basic needs.
There is nothing more imperative right now than taking steps to protect the system that provides for every living thing within it. Recent reports indicate that if global emissions aren’t reined in by 2030, it will be too late. By then, it will also likely be impossible to feed, clothe and find work for all of an exploding population. And then what? Nature will start detoxing the addicts, so to speak. Humans need the Earth more than it needs us, and Nature always wins. Maybe a few people will make it through and start over. The most successful will be the ones who understand exactly what the essentials are and where they come from.
The level of our continuation as a healthy species depends on taking a hard look at human values in an extremely resistant society. What we can do right now is pause and think about what is important each time we are tempted by more, and easier, faster bigger better newer enhanced. We can each try to recognize what is enough in our lives, and be brave enough to say it out loud, far and wide. We can support new businesses that are not driven by increasing profits, but rather turn away from making something disposable toward doing something meaningful. It will take another revolution to get us back on track.
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Linda C. Eneix is president of The OTS Foundation for Neolithic Studies and has been focused on prehistory for more than 30 years. She has lectured widely on Malta’s megalithic monuments, has been consulted for film, television and print media in the USA and Europe, and has appeared on international television. Ms. Eneix is a pioneer in the emerging multi-disciplinary science of Archaeoacoustics, having assembled two teams for on-site research, organized the first three international conferences on the subject and edited their proceedings. She is the author of “Listening for Ancient Gods” as well as a prehistoric heritage handbook for teachers in Malta.
This exhibit introduces an advanced society that thrived more than a thousand years before Egypt had a pyramid: a society that spectacularly represents the birth of monumental architecture, the development of agriculture and the launch of civilization that has made us who we are today. Giant photos of UNESCO World Heritage Sites enfold the visitor while freestanding megalithic sculptures provide full-size three-dimensional punctuation. Decorated hides and tapestries, artifact replicas and full-color photo info panels compliment a complete experiential educational installation.
800 – 2,000 sq. ft. with lighting, Minimum ceiling height 9 ft., Access to electricity required for interactive pod. (More on Arts & Echoes webpage)
AN EXHIBITION FOR THE PLANET
ART & ARCHITECTURE