The First Signs

Unlocking the Mysteries of the World's Oldest Symbols

The First Signs

“If you love mysteries, you’ll love this book. Genevieve von Petzinger acts as guide and sleuth in this fascinating, accessible, and fast-paced exploration of Ice Age artists and the evocative cave paintings they left behind” (Virginia Morell, author of Animal Wise and Ancestral Passions).

In an adventure worthy of Indiana Jones, archeologist von Petzinger explores the little-known geometric cave art of our ancient ancestors—perhaps the first form of human written communication and a key to unlocking some of the mysteries of our ancient past. These “remarkable” (Jean Auel, author of the bestselling Earth’s Children series) findings “may represent one of the most extraordinary scientific insights of our time” (Wade Davis, author of The Serpent and the Rainbow).

Join von Petzinger as she travels throughout Europe and attempts to crack the code of these strange symbols, which persisted virtually unchanged for some 30,000 years. Clearly meaningful to their creators, these geometric signs are one of the first indicators of our human ancestors’ intelligence and capacity for symbolic meaning and language—glimpses across millennia of an ancient consciousness linked to our own.

Part travel journal, part popular science, and part personal narrative, this groundbreaking investigation explores what makes us human, how we evolved as a series, and how this cave art laid the foundation for so much of the technology that we enjoy today.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 328 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476785509 | 
  • March 2017
List Price $17.00
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About the Author

Genevieve von Petzinger
Robert Leslie

Genevieve von Petzinger

Genevieve von Petzinger studies cave art from the European Ice Age and has built a unique database that holds more than 5,000 signs from almost 400 sites across Europe. Her work has appeared in popular science magazines such as New Scientists and Science Illustrated. A National Geographic Emerging Explorer of 2016, she was a 2011 TED Global Fellow, a 2013-15 TED Senior Fellow and her 2015 TED talk has more than 2 million views.

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