Joe Fantin asks:
Has anyone worked with ancient texts and attempted to reconstruct
a cognitive environment? My question is simply, how much evidence
of a concept's existence would convince you that it was there? ...
widespread attestation in inscriptions, papyri, etc., would seem to
suggest its existence. ... what would you need to see to conclude
Unfortunately, I have worked in the *absence* of ancient texts in
my attempt to reconstruct "sacred geography" in the form of body-
part (anthropomorphic) maps in the mid-East and north Africa.
There does exist the assertion of American Indian elders of the
Blackfoot tribe that names for the body parts of Napi, their Creator,
have become the names for areas and features in Alberta, Canada and
northern Montana. [Compare mapa, nap(kin), and 'nap of the earth'.]
Many place names in the areas that I worked with seem to be
transliterations or loan-translations of Western Semitic body
part names, such that these areas form a coherent male body in
the mid-East and a coherent female body in north Africa.
In the absence of paper or another suitable media for a map, naming
places after body parts is a *very* interesting method of informing
the members of a language community approximately where each named
location is. For example, if I am living in Lebanon or Nubia
(both related to Sanskrit nabhila = navel), I am at the "center"
of a body and therefore at the center of its "map". If I wanted to
go to Kurd(istan) or Lybia/Cyrenia (both named after the heart),
I would know which direction to go.
If you would like to see a bit map graphic of Napi in Canada
and charts illustrating the bodies in the mid-East and north
Africa, sent me an email. Let me know what graphics format
you prefer: .jpg, .tif, .bmp, or whatever.
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