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by Archaeology Newsroom

Man and the Forest: From the Appearance of the Homo Sapiens to the Homo

This article attempts a historical retrospection of the multilateral relations man has developed with nature, starting from the ascertainment that the modem concept of the forest has a strongly managerial and one-dimentional character. The general characteristics of these relations during Prehistory, Antiquity, the Middle Ages and modern history are investigated through specific examples from the area of the European Mediterranean. This article presents the evolution of ideas concerning the forest from the time when nature, man and divine powers were closely interrelated until the complete differentiation of these three elements and the formation of a pyramidoid and strictly hierarchical relation among them. Starting from the magic concept and animism. then researching the transition to myth and the polytheistic religion and, finally, examining the role of the Jewish tradition and Christianity, the evolution of the religious thought in relation to the concept of the forest is traced The scientific and industrial revolution are described as catalysts for the consolidation of faith on reason and the superiority of man to nature. The traditional civilization, alive until recently in the countryside, has preserved memories of ancient animistic concepts. The new pursuits in the relations of man and nature are explored today through art. However, the range of these artistic proposals is subjected to the limitations of the role that the contemporary civilization has reserved for art.

The quest of new ways of spiritual communication with nature is of vital importance for the backing of nature’s course towards downgrading. This historical retrospection offers the spark for an urgent problematic on the future of our relations with nature.