Abstract patterns composed of straight lines date back some 70,000 years as can be seen carved on a stone found in the Blombos Cave of South Africa. Circles, possibly drawn some 15,000 years ago, decorate a wall in the Ojo Guareña cave in Spain. A 9,000 year old Mesolithic carving of a labyrinth appears as a petroglyph in Usgalimol, Goa, India. Maybe these line drawings were created because they were visually pleasing or physically expressive, but could they have been symbolic? And, if symbolic, were they designed to communicate, like an early script? Were they symbols that represented such things as the iris of an eye, the energy of a spiraling eddy in a storm driven river, the shape of a full moon. Were they representations that carried with them a meaning?
The layouts of many three-dimensional Neolithic structures are circular as can be seen at the Gobekli Tepe 9,000-year-old site in Turkey and at England’s 2,500 BCE Stonehenge. Many Neolithic passageways, pathways and alignments follow, more or less, strait lines such as the passageways of the 5,000 year old Newgrange tombs in Ireland, the ‘Avenue’ of England’s Stonehenge and the Carnac stones of Brittany erected some 6,000 years ago – and many serve as lines of site that celebrate astronomical events that keep time with the cycles of the seasons. Whatever our interpretations are of Neolithic 2D and 3D designs they do represent a human disposition towards pattern, symmetry, simplification of form, abstraction and a desire to communicate.