One of the most significant works on our evolutionary ancestry since Richard Leakeys Origins, The First Signs is the first-ever exploration of the geometric images that accompany most cave art around the worldthe first indications of symbolic meaning, intelligence, and language. Imagine yourself as a caveman or cavewoman. The place: Europe. The time: 25,000 years ago, the last Ice Age. In reality, you live in an open-air tent or a bone hut. But you also belong to a rich culture that creates art. In and around your cave paintings are handprints and dots, xs and triangles, parallel lines and spirals. Your people know what they mean. You also use them on tools and jewelry. And then you vanishand with you, their meanings. Join renowned archaeologist Genevieve von Petzinger on an Indiana Jonesworthy adventure from the open-air rock art sites of northern Portugal to the dark depths of a remote cave in Spain that can only be reached by sliding face-first through the mud. Von Petzinger looks past the beautiful horses, powerful bison, graceful ibex, and faceless humans in the ancient paintings. Instead, shes obsessed with the abstract geometric images that accompany them, the terse symbols that appear more often than any other kinds of figuressigns that have never really been studied or explained until now. Part travel journal, part popular science, part personal narrative, von Petzingers groundbreaking book starts to crack the code on the first form of graphic communication. Its in her blood, as this talented scientists grandmother served as a code breaker at Bletchley. Discernible patterns emerge that point to abstract thought and expression, and for the first time, we can begin to understand the changes that might have been happening inside the minds of our Ice Age ancestorsoffering a glimpse of when they became us.