Designing from Bones & ROW80 Update

Hello everyone.

Due to an unexpected family emergency, I’m unable to post anything new today. (For all the ROWer’s this also means I suspended my goals for the week with ROWbro approval).

Jenny Hansen of More Cowbell will be guest posting here on Friday and I hope to return Saturday with Blog Treasures.

Here is the original Designing from Bones, Aurignacian Lion-Man, for those that may of missed it. Have a great week and I’ll see you soon.

Designing from Bones: Aurignacian Lion-Man

Welcome to the first in my running series, “Designing from Bones”, where we use archaeology and the artifacts of human history to find and design stories. Today we will step back 32000 years to the shadowed past of modern humanity and visit the Aurignacians.

While primitive by our standards the Aurignacians are considered to be the first modern human culture with handicrafts, social customs and beliefs. They were located around the Haute Garonne region of France early in the expansion of homo sapiens into areas once controlled by Neanderthals.

Imagine if you will the recesses of a cave long ago. Our ancestors dressed in animal skins gathered before a small figurine. They dance and sway before their god appealing to it for good fortune or health or safety in a savage world. Flanking the figurine a pair of shamans play music on hand-tooled flutes, the eerie notes echoing and blending on the walls of the dank cavern. Firelight flickers causing shadows to dance and writhe across the surface of the figurines’ human body, topped by the head and visage of a powerful cave lion. Carved from a single piece of ivory, the roots serving as legs, unblemished in contrast to its worshipers, the Lion-Man seems to animate and call back to the minds of the faithful, bringing them hope and promise.

Discovered in 1939 in a cave in Southern Germany the Lion-Man was surrounded by bones, shards of ivory and several flutes. The figurine itself was damaged making its gender indeterminable.

So what inspiration can we as writers find and utilize from the Lion-Man?

Bringing history alive in our writing requires three simple things. Genre determines the use of the history, setting brings it meaning and purpose and our creative imaginations empower it. Let’s explore just a few of the options that the Lion-Man has to offer.

The Lion-Man as an object.

Any object in history can be used to engage the mind, the meaning determined by the setting we choose to place it in or the manner in which we display it for our readers. Place the figurine on a mantle and it adds eerie ambiance to a mystery landscape. Hang it from a chain and it becomes a talisman with character and appeal. When centered on a shrine surrounded by black candles and human bones it inspires fear, tension and foreboding. Positioned as the handle to a potion of love and it becomes a sign of virility and intrigue.

The Lion-Man as a being.

The ancients loved to create objects that fascinated the imagination and became the stylized writing prompts of antiquity. We, as writers, can do the same. If we place the Lion-Man in space he becomes an alien species with a face that symbolizes ferocity and power. As the leader of a human cult, perhaps in the Victorian era, but any time frame would work and he takes on a sinister edge, a dangerous antagonist to drive stakes and tension. Perhaps he lives in a quiet grove that our heroine stumbles upon one day, the Lion-Man’s exotic beauty and the sweet melodies of his flute calling to her lonely heart and now we have a paranormal romance. Setting brings purpose, genre shows us what it can be used for and our imagination is the eternal guide to breathe life into history.

The culture of the Aurignacians.

When placed in the future the culture of the Aurignacians, rife with shamanic rituals, the crafting of symbolic images, fears of the unknown and visions of things seen moving from the corner of the eye become a post-apocalyptic dystopia or the basis of a culture discovered by human travelers exploring a new world. Set in the past and they become a story of the struggle for survival contrasted to the beauty of human achievement and forgotten mystique .

Playing “What if?”

Being a science fiction writer, “What if?” is a staple of creative design, but I feel it is the heart of all good writing. Here are a few possibilities that came to mind. What if two members of the tribe required the blessing of the Lion-Man, or its shaman, to be allowed to ask for a blessing of togetherness? What if a quest to placate a silent god or alien master was required to save the tribe or culture, or to free them from domination? What if a modern explorer were to discover this culture still alive and well in the depths of the Amazon jungle or a remote valley in Nepal?

Studying any ancient culture will open ideas to a myriad of story seeds just waiting for our creative muse to nurture into powerful and compelling stories. It is my hope that this series will inspire creative minds to seek out and use the vast treasures of human history.

What interesting points of history have you found a use for in your stories? Does any of the above speak to your muse? Feel free to post your thoughts and suggestions in the comments. I will be posting this series on Wednesdays from this point. I look forward to your comments and seeing you soon when we explore an interesting collection of Irish watchtowers.

The story of the Aurignacian Lion-Man can be found on Stone Pages.

If you’re looking for more great information and ideas on writing, check out my previous Designing from Bones entries.

Peaceful Journeys!

About Gene Lempp

Gene Lempp is a writer blending elements of alternate history, the paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and horror for dark and delicious fun. He unearths stories by digging into history, archeology, myth and fable in his Designing from Bones blog series. “Only the moment is eternal and in a moment, everything will change,” sums the heart of his philosophy. You can find Gene at his Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, WANATribe, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
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16 Responses to Designing from Bones & ROW80 Update

  1. EllieAnn says:

    Cool! Great post as always. Gives me lots if ideas.

  2. jamilajamison says:

    Great post! Definitely gives me food for thought as I ponder world-building for my fantasy WIP. However, I am going to have Mumford & Sons’s “Little Lion Man” stuck in my head for the rest of the day. 😉 It’s one of my favorite songs.

  3. Jenny Hansen says:

    Sure hope all is well for you and the family, Gene!

    I’m excited about being here for Life List Friday. See y’all then. 🙂

  4. kerrymeacham says:

    Great post Gene. I had not read this before and found it very interesting. I hope things are going well.

  5. Jane Sadek says:

    I hope things with your family work out best for all concerned. Thoughts and prayers coming your way.

  6. Oooh, interesting! I think my favorite one was the Lion Man in space as an alien species. Just so long as he’s not confused with Guin Saga…

  7. Lynn Kelley says:

    I hope all is well with your family, Gene. I’m glad you posted this because I haven’t read it, and it’s another excellent Designing From Bones. Great writing prompts. I agree that the “What if” aspect is at the heart of all good writing. Take care.

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Thanks to all of you for the supportive comments. Life has twists, but rest assured, we’ll be fine.

      I’m looking forward to having Jen Hansen here Friday. She is a spectacular writer that I can’t wait to share with all of you.

      Peace 🙂

  8. I hope everything is okay, Gene…best wishes.

    Thank you for reposting your 1st Designing from Bones. I had missed this one, and I love the idea of the Lion-Man.

  9. Catie Rhodes says:

    I had missed the Lion Man first time around. Interesting. I like the idea of a someone having the Lion Man as a talisman they wear around their neck. It holds…the trapped spirit of an ancient, which gives the wearer inhuman strength. He either has to use it for good or evil…how about evil? He uses it to win underground boxing matches. The problem begins when he starts to have patches of time he doesn’t remember. Then, he quits seeing himself in the mirror. See, if you use the spirit too much, it claims your body so it can walk again on earth.

    I sure hope your personal stuff straightens out. If you need any help, you know where to find me.

    • Gene Lempp says:

      That is a fantastic idea, Catie! Love the consequences. Can he escape the terror or is his best friend the hero that will have to stop or save him? Interesting.

      Thanks 🙂

  10. Pingback: Search Term Bingo – More Cowbell Style | Jenny Hansen's Blog

  11. I loved the lion-man post when it first came out! Love it still. Hope everything’s okay.

  12. I love the carved version. That inspires me with strength and beauty. The painted one just scares the bejeebies out of me.

    Hope everything is okay on the home front. Take care and see you when things settle down.

  13. Pingback: Supernatural Saturday: The Lion Man (via Gene Lempp’s Blog) | Shéa MacLeod, Author – Everything's Better With Dragons

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