Why we tell stories

Giving an interpretation of this image:

CavePainting

Although there are several animals in this image, it’s clear that a hunt isn’t being depicted; the characters represented aren’t carrying weapons, and the creatures are still alive. It’s unlikely an unsuccessful hunt would be recorded in this way, unless there was a lesson to be learnt, which I’m not convinced is the case here.

However, the people depicted at the top of the image alongside the creature with horns (a bull?) are striking quite a strong pose, as though they are warding off the animal, trying to stop it from getting past them.

The people at the bottom of the image are quite the opposite. They look relaxed, as though they are having a conversation amongst themselves, unconcerned about the two animals alongside them.

A possible story that could be read from this image is that the creature with horns had been attempting to get to the younger animal at the bottom of the image, which had become separated from its mother, trying to attack it. The people grouped together to stop the attack from taking place, separating the attacking creature from the others. Another group of people subsequently reunited the younger animal with its mother, back to safety.

These kinds of stories were generally told to teach morals, or to allow others to understand how their way of life worked. Oftentimes, I believe, it was simply to record important or exciting events that had occurred – perhaps simply for the purpose of entertainment, or for those who were a part of the story to live on through future generations (or, perhaps, bragging rights).

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