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Robert Smithson, Upside Down Tree, 1969
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by James Croak

The Druids, a class of priests who lived in the Iron Age, communicated via an alphabet that consisted entirely of drawings of tree branches, with each letter or sound accorded an arboreal species and drawn to graphically resemble it. For instance, the “B” sound was “beith,” which means “birch tree” in modern English, and the letter comprised a drawing of a birch branch, while “ea” was an aspen tree, and the letter was a representation of aspen. The Druids also marked time by trees, naming each calendar month of the 13-month lunar cycle after a common tree like Birch, Rowan, Ash or Willow.


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