Jan. 12th, 2011

sakurablossom: a ginger girl sitting on a dirt road, staring at the horizon (star storm)
[personal profile] sakurablossom
Caves, Clans, and Campfires

As a student of history, I find our ancestors a constant source of amazement. Granted, they didn't have the advantages of our advanced technology. Their study of the world around them was shrouded in superstition and lacked the sophistication of scientific method. Nevertheless, they were keen observers.

They studied birds as they flew and predators as they stalked their prey. They watched the great heroes of the clan and made mental notes of their exploits, hunting skills, and bravery against adversaries. From such observations came oral histories. Storytellers developed the characters into larger-than-life beings and embellished the stories. Mythologies developed and members of the clan, young and old alike, gathered around the campfire at night. They listened with rapt attention as their storytellers wove tales of heroism.

In time, our ancestors developed a way to record these stories to share with others. Whether carved in stone or on pieces of bark, little symbols soon took on meaning and with this meaning came a new authority. Writing something down gave it importance and worth.

With the advent of the written word, a whole new world opened to those who could master the skill. Stone and tree bark, terribly inconvenient from the beginning, eventually were replaced by paper, an invention that made it possible for more people to write about a wide variety of subjects.

Observers became the scribes who left us an incomparable eyewitness testimony of their time and place in the world. Among those scribes were the ancient Greeks, who laid the foundation for the modern journal.

"Whoso desireth to know what will be hearafter, let him think of what is past, for the world hath ever been in a circular revolution." -Sir Walter Raleigh

Looking to the Stars

Great observers, the ancient Greeks looked at and tried to explain everything around them, below them, and above them. Early Greek astronomers in particular took great pains to observe the heavenly bodies, to accurately record their movement through the heavens, and to plot their paths through the cosmos. Over time, their daily logs, called ephides, made it possible for them to predict the behavior of the stars and planets from year to year. Their ephides also became the basis for future studies in astronomy and introduced the concept of a daily, running narrative - the journal.


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