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Teacher Planbook: Integrating Folk Music, Folklore and Traditional Culture Instruction Into K-12 Education

"Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." - Will Rogers

"Tradition is not to preserve the ashes, but to pass on the fire." ~ Gustav Mahler

What is folklife?



'When Congress created the American Folklife Center in 1976, it had to define folklife in order to write the law. Here is what the law says:

American folklife is the traditional, expressive, shared culture of various groups in the United States: familial, ethnic, occupational, religious, and regional. Expressive culture includes a wide range of creative and symbolic forms, such as custom, belief, technical skill, language, drama, ritual, architecture, music, play, dance, drama, ritual, pageantry, and handicraft. Generally these expressions are learned orally, by imitation, or in performance, and are maintained or perpetuated without formal instruction or institutional direction."
~ from, Folklife and Fieldwork: A Layman's Introduction to Field Techniques. by Peter Bartis; Revised 2002. Publications of the American Folklife Center, no. 3

Folklore and
K12 Education



Folklore and Education from 1929 to the 90s is available on ERIC (the Education Research Information Clearing House) This bibliography presents books, journal articles, reports, and teaching guides published between 1929 and 1992 related to folklore education. The bibliography includes over 200 entries covering the history of education, community centered education, intercultural education, folklore and education, oral history projects conducted by students, and anthropology and education. Each entry includes author, date of publication, title, publisher, and library catalog number, when appropriate. ~ Jan Rosenberg
example 1993 Pilot Study of Agricultural Literacy. Final Report

Guide to the American Folklore Society records 1890-2011

The Origin of the U.S. Department of Education

The Commissioner of Education was the title given to the head of the federal Office of Education, which was historically a unit within the Department of the Interior in the United States. The position was created on March 2, 1867, when an Act to establish the Office of Education took effect. The Commissioner was the U.S. government's highest education official from 1867 until 1972.
In 1972, Public Law 92-318 provided the repeal of a part of the law which had created the office of Commissioner of Education. The repeal took effect on July 1, 1972. The Office of Education ceased to exist. Although the Assistant Secretary of Education then became the highest federal education position, the office of Commissioner of Education continued to exist in the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare until 1980, when the post was phased out due to the creation of the Cabinet-level Department of Education.
Philander P. Claxton, headed the federal Department of Education, and embodied the highest ideals of the academic profession. He trie to raise public consciousness of the connection between improved education and a vigorous and prosperous democracy. He also helped to write the legislation authorizing rehabilitative education for World War I veterans and developed the first plan for federal aid for vocational education.
While his role was more directly focused on the improvement of schools at the lower levels he exercised considerable influence on higher education. He thought the state must give the University wise direction, keeping it free from all influences of partisan politics, sectarian bias, social caste, and unrighteous personal ambitions. And that the most important work of a college president ... is the selection of teachers, relieving them of all unnecessary duties that may interfere with teaching. He also called for a nationwide effort to collect English and Scottish ballads in 1912 (as cited in Whisnant's All That is Native and Fine), which led to the establishment of the Virginia and North Carolina Folklore Societies in 1913.

Hear Retired Professor from Western Kentucky University, Dr. William Lynwood Montell, has written 28 books about the culture and history of Kentucky, including about education in one-room school houses.

Hear Author William Lynwood Montell crisscrossed Kentucky in search of the best ghost stories he could find, hoping to document the traditional oral tales handed down through the generations. Did they turn him into a believer?

The Children's Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society
Folklore & Reading: *Which Side Are You On?: The Story of a Song*, by George Ella Lyon is the compelling story of the desperate circumstances that prompted the writing of a pivotal song by Florence Reece, a fearless coal miner's wife who raised her family during the mining strikes of the 1920s and '30s in eastern Kentucky.

Mouse and Lion*, by Rand Burkert and Nancy Ekholm Burkert a beautifully rendered version of the Aesop fable, set in the Aha Hills bordering Botswana and Namibia.

*The Matatu,* by Eric Walters and illustrated by Eva Campbell, a story based on a Kamba folktale from Kenya; and *Walking on Earth and Touching the Sky: Poetry and Prose by Lakota Youth at the Red
Cloud Indian School, *edited* *by Timothy P. McLaughlin with paintings by
S.D. Nelson, an anthology of works by Lakota youth that is an outgrowth of their cultural experience.

Virgin Island / West Indian / Black History Month

Dr. Elizabeth 'Betsy' Peterson has been appointed Director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (AFC), effective January 16, 2012."

Catherine Hiebert Kerst
Folklife Specialist/Archivist
American Folklife Center Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540

Barry Bergey
Director, Folk & Traditional Arts
National Endowment for the Arts


Mapping the Songs of America Select any state on this map to find items pertaining to it. These may include songs about a state, songs written or recorded in a state, or songs composed by an artist associated with that state. Results can include sheet music, recordings, videos, and more.
Not the same old (folk) song and dance field recordings in the European communities of the United States, Benjamin Botkin folklife lecture / American Folklife Center lecture, 2006-07-27
American Folklife Center

What is Folklore

"Folklore is the traditional, unofficial, non-institutional part of culture. It encompasses all knowledge, understandings, values, attitudes, assumptions, feelings, and beliefs transmitted in traditional forms by word of mouth or by customary examples." ~ Jan Brunvand "The Study of American Folklore"



2012 Since the early 1990s, photographer Tom Pich, a native New Yorker, has traveled the U.S. meeting with and photographing NEA National Heritage fellows in their living rooms, in their studios, and in the landscapes that inspire them. As of 2009, Pich had photographed more than 150 of these master artisans, tradition-keepers, and folk and traditional arts advocates. Here are several new portraits shot by Pich in the last couple of years.

The 2010 NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert was webcast from the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland, on September 24, 2010. Emceed by American Routes host Nick Spitzer, the concert celebrated the 2010 recipients of the NEA National Heritage Fellowship, the nation's highest honor in the folk & traditional arts.




2012 NEA National Heritage Fellows

Nominate a National Heritage Fellow
Send to Director, Folk & Traditional Arts
National Endowment for the Arts


The Minnesota Folksong Collection is an online digital library for audio recordings, song texts and and other materials documenting traditional folksong from Minnesota. The current collection consists of a set of songs recorded by Robert Winslow Gordon in 1924.

Bela Bartok using a gramaphone to record folk songs sung by Czech peasants. 1908

Old-time music is a genre of North American folk music, with roots in the folk music of many countries, including England, Scotland, Ireland and countries in Africa. It developed along with various North American folk dances, such as square dance, buck dance, and clogging. The genre also encompasses ballads and other types of folk songs. It is played on acoustic instruments, generally centering on a combination of fiddle and plucked string instruments (most often the guitar and banjo).
History: Reflecting the cultures that settled North America, the roots of old-time music are in the traditional musics of the British Isles (primarily English, Scottish and Irish). In some regions French and German sources are also prominent. While many dance tunes and ballads can be traced to European sources, many others are of purely North American origin.

Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century but is often applied to music that is older than that. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. This music is also referred to as traditional music and, in US, as "roots music".
Starting in the mid-20th century a new form of popular folk music evolved from traditional folk music. This process and period is called the (second) folk revival and reached a zenith in the 1960s. The most common name for this new form of music is also "folk music", but is often called "contemporary folk music" or "folk revival music" to make the distinction. This type of folk music also includes fusion genres such as folk rock, electric folk, and others. Certain types of folk music are also sometimes called world music. While contemporary folk music is a genre generally distinct from traditional folk music, it often shares the same English name, performers and venues as traditional folk music; even individual songs may be a blend of the two.

Traditional folk music


A consistent definition of traditional folk music is elusive. The terms folk music, folk song, and folk dance are comparatively recent expressions. They are extensions of the term folk lore, which was coined in 1846 by the English antiquarian William Thoms to describe "the traditions, customs, and superstitions of the uncultured classes." The term is further derived from the German expression Volk, in the sense of "the people as a whole" as applied to popular and national music by Johann Gottfried Herder and the German Romantics over half a century earlier. Traditional folk music also includes most indigenous music.

Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh traditional music.

Bluegrass was inspired by the music of immigrants residing in Appalachia, and was influenced by the music of African-Americans through incorporation of jazz elements. In bluegrass, as in some forms of jazz, one or more instruments each takes its turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others perform accompaniment; this is especially typified in tunes called breakdowns. This is in contrast to old-time music, in which all instruments play the melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment. Breakdowns are often characterized by rapid tempos and unusual instrumental dexterity and sometimes by complex chord changes.

Bluegrass music has attracted a diverse and loyal following worldwide. Bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe characterized the genre as: "Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound."

The High and Lonesome Sound: The Legacy of Roscoe Holcomb by John Cohen

Roscoe Holcomb Kentucky musician evokes a rural way of life that has all but disappeared. Cohen was a founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers, who played "old-time" folk music, from the 1920s and 1930s, and a friend of Pete Seeger and the young Bob Dylan. Although Roscoe Holcomb brought his high and lonesome sound into metropolitan concert halls and on to the stages of folk festivals, he died alone and poor in a nursing home in 1981. By then, he had been feted by Dylan, who praised his "certain untamed sense of control", and Eric Clapton, who called him "my favourite country musician".

Ramblin' Jack Elliott
Woody Guthrie
Bob Dylan
Richie Havens, Folk Singer Who Opened Woodstock RIP



English Departments used to have someone who taught Beowulf, or English and Scottish balladry. That's where the great ballad collecting movements, and the early 20th Century local, regional and state folklore societies had their origins, in English Departments of places like University of Virginia. C. when C. Alphonso Smith called for ballad collection in the very first issue of the Virginia Folklore Society Bulletin, in 1913, through the US Dept of Education. The same can be said of John Lomax (English Dept., Harvard), and sociologist folksong collector Howard Odum at UNC-CH.
Compare 1923 to 2010 and you"ll find out how difficult it is to find graduate level courses that include Hawthorne, Twain, Melville, Hemingway or Faulkner, much less Child. The field lost three truly titanic people in one year Archie Green, Bess Hawes, and Nancy Sweezy who there before this became a formally organized field, and knew what it was like before we had public folklife programs, funding streams, endowments, apprenticeships, appreciation for immigrant traditions, and the like. These are fragile institutions are it is important for all of us to be advocates for things like hand-made objects, musical traditions, and other genres of artistic expression. If English Departments still taught the HISTORY of English literature, you would find . . .

Child Ballads: They're Scottish and English folk songs from the 17th and 18th centuries and earlier. They're named after Francis James Child, the Harvard professor and folklorist who collected them. He was among the first to consider them an important part of early English literature — right alongside the works of Geoffrey Chaucer or Edmund Spenser. Child published the songs he collected in a 10-volume opus called The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. It contains the lyrics to 305 songs, along with a list of alternate versions for each and lengthy notes. "What he wanted to do was create a critical edition of these texts that could be studied by scholars, and it was for scholars, initially," Brown says. But in time, the books reached a wider audience and became a giant sourcebook for singers and musicians, she says. Hear: Willie of Winsbury

Dr. Erika Brady - 2011 Kentucky Governor's Awards in the Arts - Media Award Recipient


Classroom Teacher Educational Resources

  • International Organizations
  • Regional Societies
  • National Folklore and Folklife Related Organizations
  • Additional University Home Pages of Interest to Folklorists
  • Folklore and Folklife Around the United States (Special Interest Sites)
  • Folklife, Research, Projects, and Grants
  • Online Publications
  • Art and Media Sites and JOBS

We need to remember that folklore is created by "the folk," and not defined or delineated by the folklorists.

"The folk" do define their own folklore. That's the way the idea of folklore began. "The folk" were around before folklorists. The term "folklore" actually goes back over 1,000 years, and William Thoms basically re-coined the term in the mid-19th Century.

"You can find an interesting citation of early uses of an Old English term that looks and sounds a lot like "folklore" in Jeffery Mazzo's 1996 article in "Folklore." One of the interesting things that Mazzo discovered is that "folklore" was in contrast to "book-lore" or 'knowledge advanced within the early academic settings.' Mazzo also shows that "folklore" meant something like "knowledge held in common" in contrast to "book-lore" or the knowledge held by the elite. "What's folk?" but stories and behavior that are rooted in tradition -- not corporate processes". ~ Gregory Henson P.h.D.

Who Are The Folk ~ Alan Dundes
And finally, in one of his most cited articles on “Who Are the Folk?” (1977), A. Dundes presents the significant point that the modern age creates its own folklore, especially also new proverbs:
The technology of the telephone, radio, television, xerox machine, etc., has increased the speed of the transmission of folklore. What used to take days, weeks, or months to cross the country can now move around the world in a matter of seconds. Moreover the technology itself has become the subject of folklore. Experimental scientists (and engineers) constitute a folk group with their own folklore. For example, Murphy's Laws would be an excellent illustration of the folklore of this group. Many versions of Murphy's Laws exist, but perhaps the most common single law is “If anything can go wrong, it will” (16).
Later in his life Alan Dundes published collections of such modern folklore, locating it not only in the mass media and at the work place (office lore) but also on the global internet. Folklore clearly was a steadily evolving and changing phenomenon for this untiring scholar, as will be shown in another section of this survey below.


Teaching: folklore; folk music; and culture, curriculum, teacher planners.

What is Folklore?

In a broader sense, traditional and popular culture is a group-orientated and tradition-based creation of groups or individuals reflecting the expectations of the community as an adequate expression of its cultural and social identity; its standards and values are transmitted orally, by imitation or by other means. Its forms include, among others, language, literature, music, dance, games, mythology, rituals, customs, handicrafts, architecture and other arts. - UNESCO, 1985

There is / was such a thing as "folkloric truth" -- this was "what should be true, whether it was documentable fact or not". From Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" you will find "story-truth" versus "happening-truth." So, maybe it *should* be true, but that don't mean folks should buy it! Don't believe everything you read in a gallery, museum, park, book or website.

"My name is Jeff Albertson, but everyone calls me the 'Comic Book Guy'" I have a Phd in Folklore. The Simpson's definition of Folk Art "When Juliet and Lisa are running through the folk art museum, the song played in the background is a version of the Beach Boys song "Wipeout." The real song starts out "Heheheheheheee wipe oooout!" In the museum scene the song starts with "Heheheheheheee, folk art!" and the Singing Folklorist from Saturday Night Live.

Did you hear the story about the cowboy poet who was constantly getting asked to come "perform" at schools and libraries and such, the refrain always being "We can't afford to pay you anything, but it'd be great exposure." To which the cowboy replied, "M'am, in Wyoming people DIE of exposure."


O.E. from P.Gmc.
folc "common people, men, tribe, multitude,"
*folkom (cf. O.Fris. folk, M.Du. volc, Ger. Volk "people")
*fulka-, perhaps originally "host of warriors;" cf. O.N. folk "people," also "army, detachment;" and Lith. pulkas "crowd," O.C.S. pluku
"division of an army," both believed to have been borrowed from P.Gmc.
Some have attempted, without success, to link the word to Gk. plethos "multitude;" L. plebs "people, mob," populus "people" or vulgus. Superseded in most senses by people. Colloquial folks "people of one's family" first recorded 1715. Folksy "sociable, unpretentious" is 1852, U.S. colloquial, from folks + -y.


  • Joe Hickerson ran Library Of Congress Folklore Archive in the 70's
  • Dr. Alan Jabbour Director of the American Folklife Center
    Dr. Alan Jabbour Appalachian Fiddle Workshop
    Culture Maker / Culture Keeper / Scholar and National Treasure.

    Where it all begins: Learn about the United States American Folklife Center created by Alan Jabbour: created to engage in a broad range of educational and research activities that preserve, revitalize, and present America's rich and diverse cultural heritage -- a heritage associated with ethnic, regional, and occupational cultures.
    Dr. Alan Jabbour - Folklore Protection and National Patrimony: Developments and Dilemmas in the Legal Protection of Folklore PDF
    *Dr. Alan Jabbour is a fan of Irish Scholar Peter Tamony
  • Libby Tucker Convener of the Children's Folklore Section, for AFS
  • Michael Taft, retired in early 2012.
    2013 Nicole Saylor Appointed Head of American Folklife Center Archive American Folklife Center - Archive of Folk Culture
    The Archive of Folk Culture contains three million objects that document traditional culture from around the world. Michael Taft presents a primer on the technology of Sound Recording (January 6, 2006). Almost every state includes at least one folklorist in their cultural agencies."My view is that there is no such thing as purity or even 'authenticity' in folklife; there is only ongoing and ever-changing creativity of the people. In this respect, there are no endangered cultures, except for those that are in danger of physical obliteration through genocide or ethnic cleansing."
  • Barry Bergey Director, Folk & Traditional Arts
    National Endowment for the Arts 202/682-5726
  • Michael Orlove, formerly the Director of Music Programs at the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, has been named Director of Presenting at NEA. He has had a great deal of experience presenting world music and has collaborated with Bau Graves, Director of the Old Town School of Folk Music, in the past:
  • The American Folklore Society, [AFS] founded in 1888, is an association of people who study folklore and communicate knowledge about folklore throughout the world.
  • Folklore and Ethnography Web Resources
  • 2002 The Handbook for Nevada Folk and Traditional Artists, PDF was researched and written by NAC Folklife Program Coordinator Pat Atkinson. The 118-page full-color publication provides information on business, marketing, performance, and teaching topics to assist artists who are interested in professional development and entrepreneurial skills. While focusing on folk and traditional arts, the Handbook contains information useful to any working artist.


  • The NEA New Strategic Plan for the United States 2012 - 2016
  • American Folklife Center - A Teachers Guide To Folklife Resources
  • Folklore (video game)
  • FOLKLIFE AND FIELDWORK: "When the first edition of Folklife and Fieldwork was published in 1979 there were only a handful of professional state folklorists. Today nearly every state has a program for documenting and presenting its own folk cultural heritage. Folklife fieldwork has gone beyond its early missions of preservation and scholarship to serve new uses, such as providing information to economists environmentalists, and community planners. New technologies for preserving and presenting traditional cultural expression have been developed. A new generation of professionally trained folklorists have emerged from university programs, and many now work in state and local organizations to sponsor concerts, website presentations, exhibits, and other cultural heritage programs. But regardless of the number of folklorists available for professional projects or the sophistication of the technology, there is still a need for the participation of all citizens in the process of documenting our diverse traditional culture."
    A Teachers Guide To Folklife and Fieldwork Resources. A Layman's Introduction to Field Techniques, originally prepared in 1979 by Center folklorist Peter Bartis, and revised in 1990, has once again been revised and updated (2002) and is available free of charge from the American Folklife Center. Copies are available to individuals or for use in workshops and classrooms (up to 50 copies to a single address). Special requests for more than 50 copies will be considered. Please contact Doris Craig at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC,20540-4610. [202-707-1736]
  • Folklore and Education Section of the American Folklore Society
  • A Bibliography of Works in Folklore and Education Published between 1929 and 1992
  • Folktales In The Classroom
  • Lesson Plans & Classroom Materials Ways to Use Primary Sources from the Library of Congress in the Classroom
    The following linked pages offer a wide range of teaching strategies and learning activities for K-12 classes in American and world history, civics, politics, the visual arts and literature. Activities and lesson plans contain a wealth of primary source materials and are also designed to teach students the skills and techniques that folklorists, historians, anthropologists, and librarians use in the course of conducting research, interpreting their findings, and presenting the results of their research to the public.




Mailing Lists / Listservs

Online Projects



UF study reports children don't know their folk songs anymore and schools aren't teaching them!


The Historic Electronic Online Archive of Children's Folksongs A Public Folklore Project built by the children of the United States. Empower Children - Integrate Literacy, Music, and Technology into the classroom.



How do you turn children into American citizens?


THE ORAL TRADITION: From Gossip to Story Telling. Life Lessons Learned by hearing the stories.

The simplest definition of a folk song has it that a folk song is one that singers feel free to change, to make their own; and that it has passed from one generation to the next. ("Generation" is not the demographers' 33 years, but a flexible number. A generation is high school students is four years; of miners about seven, etc.)

The word 'Folk' comes from the German 'Volk', meaning peasant, muzhik, serf, helot, sharecropper, and so forth. You can use this definition to separate a "topical" song from a folksong.

FOLK MUSIC started before there was a music industry when the role of music was about your life - about the life and times that most of us don't experience anymore and originally folk music was sung because it helped the people get through life and folk music song lyrics told the stories about their life and work.

K-12 Curriculum Standards, Benchmark

Bind children together, give them something in common using our own fabric of Folktales or choose one of the 50 states to see the folktale from that state.


It can be useful to distinguish between the use of oral history in other disciplines and oral history as a separate discipline. Nevins' work at Columbia did begin to establish, self-consciously, that named discipline, as far as I know; but for oral history within the field of history itself, for instance, we might go all the way back to Herotodus for an example of someone who spoke with people and got their versions of events and wove them into his narrative. I think the important thing to remember about this newly named discipline was that Nevins' idea was for a top-down oral history -- his idea was to interview "the men who made history" (sic), world leaders, etc. -- very different from the bottom-up oral history documentation that culture workers and journalists have been doing for a much longer time. Alan Lomax's LC letters, 1935-45, recently published,cast some light on his role in trying to get a democratic "people's history" out thru media (radio).

Jeff Todd Titon
Professor of Music
Brown University

Historians might conceive of a DISCIPLINE of oral history as being tied to invention of a machine ("the development of magnetic tape recording in 1948" cited by my West Tennessee scholar) with the potential (from a historian's perspective) to make an ordinary person's spoken words into a certified historical document. for one thing, it removes or greatly reduces the factor of interviewer interpretation, which is a huge issue in many of the ex-slave narratives.
What an incredible enhancement of that project it would have been if those interviewers had used tape recorders. newspaper reporters turn oral history into documented history all the time by written notes, and a huge element of their training is geared to removing individual interpretation although it's of course inevitable. Boas-era scholars make oral recordings of American Indians.

In 1947, around the time his disciplinary colleagues at Columbia University had launched “oral history” as a technique for gathering first-hand accounts from notable politicians, generals, and plutocrats, Theodore Blegen of the Minnesota Historical Society, a specialist on Norwegian American immigrant settlement, stressed the importance of what he called, "Grass Roots History." Blegen's approach was heavily influenced by the work of folklorists (including extensive WPA/Federal Writers Project work in MN in the 1930s), by his own rural Norwegian American upbringing, and by his prior work with immigrant letters in the 1920s. He called for a focus on “the true makers of history,” the common people: “We have need to dig into the folk story of America if we are to bring out the pattern of American development and American culture in all its color and richness of texture and design” (1947:viii).

Blegen, Theodore C. 1928. The “America Letters”. Oslo: I kommisjon has J. Dybwad. 1947. Grass Roots History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Charles William Conaway "Lyman Copeland Draper, Father of American Oral History" , The Journal of Library History (1966-1972), Vol. 1, No. 4 (Oct., 1966), pp. 234-235, 238-241, 269

Ian Tyrell, Historians in Public: The Practice of American History, 1890-1970, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005

Rebecca Conrad, Benjamin Shambaugh and the Intellectual Foundations of Public History, Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2002

Oral history was also used by nineteenth century genealogists: Katharina Hering, " "That Food of the Memory which Gives the Clue to Profitable Research": Oral history as a source for local, regional, and family history in the nineteenth and early twentieth century" Oral History Review, (2007) 34 (2): 27-48.

"Folktales outnumber all other books about American Indians and people from Africa, Asia, & Latin America because folktales are 'safe' and since they belong to the public domain present no copyright or royalty problems. See Folktales like John Henry.




Folk Tales: evidence that myths and folktales follow the movement of people around the globe.

Scientists Trace Society's Myths to Primordial Origins
Analyzing how stories change in the retelling down through the generations sheds light on the history of human migration going as far back as the Paleolithic period.

Although the animals and the constellations may differ, the basic structure of the story does not. These sagas all belong to a family of myths known as the Cosmic Hunt that spread far and wide in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas among people who lived more than 15,000 years ago. Every version of the Cosmic Hunt shares a core story line—a man or an animal pursues or kills one or more animals, and the creatures are changed into constellations.

It reveals that certain tales probably date back to the Paleolithic period, when humans developed primitive stone tools, and spread together with early waves of migration out of Africa. My phylogenetic studies also offer insights into the origins of these myths by linking oral stories and legends passed down from generation to generation to motifs that appear in Paleolithic rock art images. Ultimately I hope my ongoing quest to identify prehistoric protomyths may even offer a glimpse of the mental universe of our ancestors when Homo sapiens was not the only human species on Earth.