Friday, April 22, 2011

Evolution of The Story - Part 1

From the Maggiecakes blog post Social Media and the Art of Storytelling where she asks the question:
"Now can someone please make an evolutionary chart that shows the progression of storytelling mediums from cave paintings to twitter?"
Hmm.  Well I'll let somebody else add beautiful images, but here's a handy flowchart of the Evolution of The Story:

When - 3.2 million years ago
Who - Australopithecus Afarensis
Where - Etheopia
Story Medium - Unknown, but possibly used gestures and some vocalizations, probably with much more sophistication than modern stereotypical "cave-men."
Most Famous Storyteller - Lucy 

When - 40,000 years ago
Who - Pre San-Hadzabe people of Africa
Story Medium - A "click" language, useful for telling stories to pass the time while hunting, apparently because the click sounds wouldn't scare away the critters being hunted.
Most Famous Storyteller - Unknown

When - 17,000 years ago
Where - Lascaux Cave Paintings in France
Story Medium - Cave paintings on the walls tell the tales of bulls, a bear, felines, a bird, a rhinoceros, and a human. Also possibly includes Neolithic star charts, or maybe just hallucinations caused by trance-dances.
Most Famous Storyteller - The artists who painted their handprints on the walls.  Hopefully that wasn't graffiti added later.

When - 12,000 years ago
Where - Göbekli Tepe, an ancient sanctuary in Turkey
Story Medium - Monolithic, 3 meter tall limestone T-shaped pillars inscribed with pictograms of lions, scorpions, ants, spiders, snakes, bulls, foxes, gazelles, and vultures.
Most Famous Storyteller - The joker who covered the entire place with dirt about 10,000 years ago.  No doubt a critic.

When - 4,500 years ago
Where - Ancient Egypt
Story Medium - Heiroglyphics and a giant, 5.9 million ton pyramid shaped structure.  The Great Pyramid could be considered the world's first Tweet, but the effort needed:
  1. Either 20 years of backbreaking work by 100,000 workers, or
  2. Helpful assistance in levitation by friendly, obviously bored aliens...
proved to be impractical at best.  Many centuries would pass before the perfection of the Tweet.
Most Famous Storyteller - The author(s) of the Book of the Dead and Pharaoh Khufu.

When - 4,000 years ago
Where - Sumeria
Story Medium - Cuneiform tablets
Most Famous Story - The Epic of Gilgamesh, the story of an ancient king with dubious ethics and bad luck.

When - 2300 years ago
Where - Ancient Greece
Who - Aristotle
Story Medium - Papyrus

Famous For - Breaking down basic plot structure and genres of stories.  The first really outspoken critic. Complained that nobody was writing original stuff any more and wondered why all the sequels and tired, re-used ideas.

That's it for Part 1.  Next time we'll get closer to modern times.  Feel free to chime in!


  1. I have nothing to add because this was already so entertaining!

  2. I'm glad you liked it, Lydia K :)