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Thematic Essay | Archaeology

The Unhurried Dawn

By Evelyn Hillesum
December 8, 2008
As her mind integrated patterns of life cycle with the synchronization of colors, the primal thread that binds the characters and images in the brain to self-awareness, began to materialize. 
Days of Grace
Days of Grace -Elizabeth Chorale

Within the mosaic pattern of human evolution the origin of woman is carved into the imagery of an ancient and ancestral comprehension of time.

At the beginnings, in the unhurried dawn, woman reinvented herself, and it was an event more important to the spread of civilization and the modern world than the invention of iron implements for cultivating the soil or the printing press. Woman’s reinvention is a narrative of how our ancestors became truly human, and how the symbolic images representing the stages in that journey emblemize the individualization of woman’s existence.

In this long formative period of human life, from about 3.2 to 3.8 million years ago, Australopithecines Gracile, a primate belonging to the distant ancestral human family, survived and flourished, swinging and leaping through an arboreal interlace of branches, leaves, and vines. It had been two million years since Gracile had branched off from the primeval lineage she held in common with her chimpanzee relatives.

The development of human traits were mind-boggling slow. But, over millions of years, little by little, Gracile’s primate family began to learn stone tool technologies, strengthen family bonds, changed the way they interacted with each other, and learned to survive and flourish.

Gracile was small and graceful, as she swung from tree to tree, an opposable thumb allowed her to grasp and hold. Primarily a fruit-eater, with front-facing binocular vision, color vision, depth awareness, hand-eye coordination, and the ability to quickly process information, adapt, and learn, she raised her off-spring in a world of dazzling pigments, flowers, leaves, vines, at the center of an interlacing of trees.

In response, perhaps to a changing environment, which may have brought a need to travel further out, toward where the fruit grows at the tree’s edge, she developed a longer, curved thumb that allowed her to balance herself effortlessly from limb to limb, and move on two legs.

This hand-assisted bipedalism, which lay dormant in the unconscious for millions of years, laid the groundwork for upright walking. Due to the skill of upright walking, which is the foundation of human evolution that supports the development of modern behavior, Gracile’s family was able to branch off and begin moving down out of the trees, toward an unknown earth in a shadowy world.

After millions of years wrapped in the dreams, colors, and light of the trees, the world of earth, limestone caves, rivers, mountains, and cliffs, opened up the splendid possibilities of a terrestrial way of life, the determination to survive geological and biological changes, and the threat of extinction by predatory animals.

Gracile and her family relied on the instincts they inherited from her ancestors, which is the ability to see a course of action. We know that the subconscious workings of instinct are vital survival skills, and they are levels of consciousness –not separate things.

Over the slow human development period, the human lived closely and in harmony with nature, and developed brilliant skills of survival.

When Gracile’s family moved down out of the trees they evolved from being hunted to being a hunter. It was an experimental trial and error period that lasted probably a million years, during which time the ancient and ancestral humans developed a keen sensory observation, the ability to decipher and codify colors, and origins of human logic.

Gracile’s family learned to transform the imperfections and weaknesses of their ancestors into knowledge, presentiment, vision, and the determination to survive. The imagery representing the stages in that journey make the workings of instinct that go back to the unconscious, primal, abstract interpretations of comprehension, back to the time before hominids became fully bipedal.

In the trees, the focus plane was at the center of nature, cycles of light and shadow, sunrise and sunset, colors and repeating geometric patterns, became the evolutionary substance of human symbolic behavior, modern thought, and tool making skills. In the beginning, in the trees, when Gracile saw her reflection in a pool of water, she was not aware that it was herself.

She watched the changing colors of the sky, sunlight reflecting off of leaves, columns of moonlight, blinking stars, and the movement of stars and planets. The natural interweaving complexity of colors, waves, patterns, and reflections, was her life.

As her mind integrated the patterns of the natural life cycle and the passage of time with the synchronization of colors, patterns, living and playing, the primal thread that binds the characters and images in the brain to self-awareness, began to materialize.

When Gracile moved down out of this world in the sky, survival depended less on the instinctual mind and more on the ability to organize reality. The instinctual imagery that awakens when we sleep, is ancient-ancestral reality awakened.

Woman reinvented herself to survive, but we will never be free of her sky and her branches, or the roots of the great trees. Her journey from the stars and wild flowers down to the earth and the passage of time under the blue canopy of trees, is the beginning of the unhurried dawn.

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