The beginning of Journalism

Prehistoric Journalism

Could drawn journalism be one of our very first ways of documenting human life ever?

By Frits Ahlefeldt

30.000 years ago small early homo sapiens tribes roamed southern Europe as they following the huge flocks of wholly rhinos, cave bears, gigantic bulls, wild horses, countless reindeer, mammoths and other animals through the landscapes  to the south of where northern Europe was locked down by mountains of ice.

The first journalists?

But these early humans did more than hunt, collect food and hike, they also documented their stories, reality and experiences in a way somehow similar to modern day journalism – but as the early journalists had to wait another 25.000 years for written language and paper to evolve, they came up with a different storytelling technique: drawn journalism.

From performing, to documenting stories

For countless generations humans had been refining their stories, sharing their dreams, hopes, plans, adventures and experiences around the fire and along their trails. Performing ever-changing dances, songs and plays. It was living stories where everything was re-created with each new performance and nothing was frozen in time…

But I imagine, that one late night, or maybe early in the morning, somewhere, around 35.000 years ago a new idea stroke, and the first journalist stumbled onto her feet, grabbed a piece of charcoal from the dying out fire, and started to document the life of the tribe in drawn stories, right there on the nearest surface – in new way, independent from them, drawn lines frozen in time.

As the journalist stepped back, the other tribe members gathered around the stories to watch how rhinos, humans and mammoths appeared out from the surface, independent from the journalist. Images and stories that would stay unchanged and document their reality, even thousand of years after the tribe moved on and disappeared into time… Drawn Journalism was born

Today many of these early drawn stories can still be seen on cave walls all over the world. Just in Spain and France there has been found more than 320 caves, where the weather could not reach in,  instead these early stories and reportage were preserved on the stone-walls and still tell about the flocks of animals, hunters, movement and action that roamed the landscapes and our understandings thousands of years ago

Man drawing a mammoth on a cave wall asking hunter if there are any last details of the hunt. drawn journalism by Frits Ahlefeldt
Prehistoric journalist getting the last details for the story about the hunt

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