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Homo Faber or Homo Symbolicus? The Fascination with Copper in the sixth millennium

Author(s): Kristina Berggren

Journal: Transoxiana - Journal de Estudios Orientales
ISSN 1666-7050

Volume: 01;
Issue: 08;
Date: 2004;
Original page

Keywords: Evolution | copper | Saussure | semiology | Jung | analytical psychology | symbol | jewelry | alchemy | smith | light | creation | fertility | mother | father | crane | Delos | Theseus | Hephaestus

The question asked is why beginning in the sixth millennium we find such a fascination with copper jewelry and small axes considering that copper tools are less efficient than those made of stone. Following the proposal of Ferdinand de Saussure, that all human beings use signs to communicate, I look at the signs through the eyes of analytical psychology. Copper objects mirror light, the smith being the earliest alchemist transforming the Stone into light. Furthermore, the ore taken from the entrails of the earth is like a foetus and it becomes the task of the smith to give birth to the metal objects. With the smith thus becoming mother, male fertility receives a new importance. This hypothesis finds a validation in the story of the dance imitating the mating dance of the cranes that Theseus, according to Plutarch, danced on Delos after having killed the Minotaur. Theseus is a hero, beautiful in mind and body; he does not limp. The only important figure in Greek mythology that limps is Hephaestus, the divine smith. I therefore propose that in the beginning the dance was lead by Hephaestus, not only smith but also god of male fertility.
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