By Donald Preziosi
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Extra info for Architecture, Language, and Meaning: The Origins of the Built World and Its Semiotic Organization
An intriguing artifact of this period is a stone circle uncovered at Olduvai by Leakey, of unknown function but suggesting a built emplacement or locus of activity of some kind. 4 Consisting of a single line of stones forming the circumference of what would have been a circle of about ten feet in diameter, this object stands apparently alone as the earliest environmental artifact in the faint record of the early human line. It is not known whether the circle of stones served to ground and support upright objects such as twigs and branches which might have served to delimit a walled (or possibly roofed) enclosure, in the fashion of the structures at Terra Amata some two-thirds of a million years later in southern France,5 which we shall discuss below.
Because the primate lives in a 34 Architecture, Language and Meaning complex social field in which it must respond to many individuals simultaneously, individual behavior is often compromised among a set of possible actions, each of which must be subtly weighed against the other. As recently noted (Chance and Jolly 1970:503518) individual social fields are conceptualized in terms of'attention structures': it is a crucial social fact for an individual to know whom to pay attention to at what time, and primates are continually assessing the flux of behavior of their fellows in order to establish bases for their own behavior.
We may speculate that the emergence of semiotic systems such as verbal languages and built environments represents, at least in part, the transformative reifícation of such ordered relationships, and the effective encoding of many kinds of relationships from a variety of perspectives within the constraints offered by different signaling media. The occasion for such a process, we may imagine, may have been related to an increased capacity to attend to portions of a gestalt—for example the impending, oncoming cues of an imminent display (of any type)—so that such component signals are taken as evidential indices, to serve as signs in their own right in a semidetachable fashion.