It seems as a species we have always needed our symbols. I suppose, when you think about it, a symbol - if it is a good one - can take the place of a thousand words and can be displayed everywhere for all to see irrespective of language. The obvious ones spring to mind:
The Cross. The Star of David. The Swastike. The Scallop Shell. The Crescent.
All of these examples have huge meaning without putting anything into words.
About ten years ago we visited Mesa Verde National Park in the United States. We were blown overby the wonderful cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people - 600 to 1300AD, which made us realise that like here in the UK, the US has a rich history. On the walls of the cliff dwellings there were symbols aplenty and we found one of those symbols so rivetting that we had to buy a model in the museum shop. He is featured above in the photograph.
He is called Kokopelli or "the music man" and was a prominent symbol in the art of the native Americans in the four corners region of the South West. He has been a sacred symbol dating back to around 200AD and is found a lot in rock art. He seems to have a lot of meanings:-
he was a rain priest; a fertility symbol; a roving minstrel and a hunting magician, to name but four, and was a powerful symbol in Anasazi times.Shortly after I bought the statue I saw another "symbol" - that of the Navajo buffalo also in a photograph above. Although our rule is to only bring one souvenir back when we go on holiday there was no way I could leave Mesa Verde without adding this buffalo to my collection. I bought him on my credit card - and have never regretted it. The traditional Navajo patterns scratched into his surface, his beautiful shape, his colours, which match the landscape so exactly - he is a perfect example and would, of course, have been a powerful symbol in the days when the native American people relied on his meat for their survival.
I tried to think of some modern symbols - but couldn't - I hope it is just my memory playing tricks rather than a suggestion that we no longer need them.