Cultic Objects from the Cult of Fire

I always chuckle at how when archaeologists cannot immediately ascertain the purpose of an ancient object, they describe it as “cultic,” in this case as a phallic symbol.

This tendency was parodied in the steampunk-ish graphic novel Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay, who also created City, Cathedral, Ship, and others.

In this instance, the “phallic symbols” appear to be parts of fire drills. If you have ever watched someone start a fire with a drill  (I have), it does seem sort of miraculous.

1 thought on “Cultic Objects from the Cult of Fire

  1. “Motel of the Mysteries”. This must be a revised version. The version I first came across was in the late 1960s as a comic book. It was a bunch of aliens who found the “archeological site” of what is now New York City and were flabbergasted to uncover what they felt was the height of the Usa’s architecture: the Brownstone. They also discovered that the people of Usa had outdoor ritual fire pits with ritual clothing such as a cap, apron (which declared Dad to be the cook), etc. etc. They were puzzled about the capital of Usa, a place called “Pound Laundry” (you can figure that out for yourself.)

    I laughed myself silly when I saw this as at that time I was debating whether to major in anthropology or astronomy.

    Since then I’ve decided that anthropologists call anything they don’t have a clue as to what it really is for, a “cult object.” For example, all those “fertility figures”? What if the way it really went is something like this: “Mommy’s making pots now, honey. Please don’t pester me.” “But I wanna play!!!!” the little girl screams. So mommy makes her a “dolly” which 3,000 years later is definitely declared to be a “cult object.”

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