A thread across 1200 generations
Come back with me through the generations, but don’t leave yourself behind. Shed the trappings of our age, the distractions, the objects, the munificence. Keep me in mind, your friends, the acquaintances you take lunch with, the people who you stand in line at the grocery store with. Keep us all in mind. Let your skin get tough and dark from use. Let your eyes strengthen to peer into dim shadows. Let your ears open to hear the sounds of the world moving around you. Let your words fall away so you can perceive silence.
Now, sit still and open your hand. Look in your palm. You hold a piece of ivory.
You have eaten. You have worked. You and your comrades are still. Many sleep. You turn the ivory in your hand. You pick up a stone and chip at it.
The mammoth emerges.
Do you understand?
This carving of a wooly mammoth measures 3.7 centimetres in length and weighs only 7.5 grams. It was sculpted 35,000 years ago — more than 1200 generations. You can learn more about it and other finds in the caves of the Swabian Jura here.