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MANIFESTATION OF WORLDVIEWS IN TRADITIONAL NARRATIVES: RECONSTRUCTION OF GLOBAL TENDENCIES IN THE SPREAD AND THE CHRONOLOGY OF EMERGENCE OF MYTHOLOGICAL MOTIFS

https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2018.46.2.149-157

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Abstract

Data on the areal distribution of motifs extracted from ca 25,000 traditional narratives were computed with the purpose of revealing a chronology of the emergence of particular mythological themes. The statistical processing of this material allowed selection of sets of motifs that probably correspond to the routes of major prehistoric migrations known thanks to archaeology and population genetics. Our conclusions are largely based on the comparison of similar sets of motifs in the Old and New Worlds, the time of the peopling of America and its particular episodes being more or less known (initial peopling by Pacifi c and then by continental Siberian groups). Thanks to the methods applied, the epochal dynamics of the development of mythology were for the fi rst time reconstructed by using systematized data, and not by proceeding from general assumptions. The earliest complex, which is related to the explanation of the mortal nature of man and the loss of the easy life, corresponds to the southern route by which humans of the modern type moved from Africa to the Indo-Pacifi c borderlands of Asia. These motifs are abundant in sub-Saharan Africa, the southern part of Eurasia, Oceania and America (especially South America), but rare in northern Eurasia and the American Arctic and Subarctic. Motifs relating to the origin of man, human anatomy, and relations between the sexes are most typical of the CircumPacifi c world. This theme probably fi rst developed in Southeast Asia among the people who came from Africa, but before the time when their earliest groups reached America. The geographic distribution of motifs relating to cosmogony and cosmology, and to the etiology of natural phenomena, plants, and animals suggests that many of the corresponding motifs initially appeared in southern Eurasia, were then brought to Siberia, and from there brought to the New World (this movement could be explained by the gradual northward displacement of population after the Late Glacial Maximum). The ideas relating to the interpretation of celestial objects were the last to develop. Corresponding motifs are only abundant in Northern Eurasia, from where many of them were brought to North America but not to South America. Interpretations of celestial objects in European cosmonymy mostly date to the Bronze Age, if not to Iron Age technology, while some are related to the spread of world religions.

About the Author

Y. E. Berezkin
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation
Universitetskaya nab. 3, St. Petersburg, 199034


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For citation:


Berezkin Y.E. MANIFESTATION OF WORLDVIEWS IN TRADITIONAL NARRATIVES: RECONSTRUCTION OF GLOBAL TENDENCIES IN THE SPREAD AND THE CHRONOLOGY OF EMERGENCE OF MYTHOLOGICAL MOTIFS. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2018;46(2):149-157. (In Russ.) https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2018.46.2.149-157

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