“Chapel Perilous, that vortex where cosmological speculations, coincidences, and paranoia seem to multiply and then collapse, compelling belief or lunacy, wisdom or agnosticism.” ~Robert Anton Wilson


    The Hazards of Civilization

    Share
    avatar
    Lucid Memes
    Red Belt
    Red Belt

    Number of posts : 1111
    Registration date : 2009-02-12
    Location : Here Be Dragons

    The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by Lucid Memes on Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:44 am

    Jared Diamond: The Worst Mistake
    in the History of the Human Race


    (Originally published in the May 1987 issue of Discover magazine, found at Iowa State University Agronomy 342 course materials, Ricardo J. Salvador, Associate Professor.)

    Spoiler:
    To science we owe dramatic changes in our smug self-image. Astronomy taught us that our earth isn’t the center of the universe but merely one of billions of heavenly bodies. From biology we learned that we weren’t specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species. Now archaeology is demolishing another sacred belief: that human history over the past million years has been a long tale of progress. In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.

    At first, the evidence against this revisionist interpretation will strike twentieth century Americans as irrefutable. We’re better off in almost every respect than people of the Middle Ages, who in turn had it easier than cavemen, who in turn were better off than apes. Just count our advantages. We enjoy the most abundant and varied foods, the best tools and material goods, some of the longest and healthiest lives, in history. Most of us are safe from starvation and predators. We get our energy from oil and machines, not from our sweat. What neo-Luddite among us would trade his life for that of a medieval peasant, a caveman, or an ape?

    For most of our history we supported ourselves by hunting and gathering: we hunted wild animals and foraged for wild plants. It’s a life that philosophers have traditionally regarded as nasty, brutish, and short. Since no food is grown and little is stored, there is (in this view) no respite from the struggle that starts anew each day to find wild foods and avoid starving. Our escape from this misery was facilitated only 10,000 years ago, when in different parts of the world people began to domesticate plants and animals. The agricultural revolution spread until today it’s nearly universal and few tribes of hunter-gatherers survive.

    From the progressivist perspective on which I was brought up, to ask “Why did almost all our hunter-gatherer ancestors adopt agriculture?” is silly. Of course they adopted it because agriculture is an efficient way to get more food for less work. Planted crops yield far more tons per acre than roots and berries. Just imagine a band of savages, exhausted from searching for nuts or chasing wild animals, suddenly grazing for the first time at a fruit-laden orchard or a pasture full of sheep. How many milliseconds do you think it would take them to appreciate the advantages of agriculture?

    The progressivist party line sometimes even goes so far as to credit agriculture with the remarkable flowering of art that has taken place over the past few thousand years. Since crops can be stored, and since it takes less time to pick food from a garden than to find it in the wild, agriculture gave us free time that hunter-gatherers never had. Thus it was agriculture that enabled us to build the Parthenon and compose the B-minor Mass.

    While the case for the progressivist view seems overwhelming, it’s hard to prove. How do you show that the lives of people 10,000 years ago got better when they abandoned hunting and gathering for farming? Until recently, archaeologists had to resort to indirect tests, whose results (surprisingly) failed to support the progressivist view. Here’s one example of an indirect test: Are twentieth century hunter-gatherers really worse off than farmers? Scattered throughout the world, several dozen groups of so-called primitive people, like the Kalahari bushmen, continue to support themselves that way. It turns out that these people have plenty of leisure time, sleep a good deal, and work less hard than their farming neighbors. For instance, the average time devoted each week to obtaining food is only 12 to 19 hours for one group of Bushmen, 14 hours or less for the Hadza nomads of Tanzania. One Bushman, when asked why he hadn’t emulated neighboring tribes by adopting agriculture, replied, “Why should we, when there are so many mongongo nuts in the world?”

    While farmers concentrate on high-carbohydrate crops like rice and potatoes, the mix of wild plants and animals in the diets of surviving hunter-gatherers provides more protein and a better balance of other nutrients. In one study, the Bushmen’s average daily food intake (during a month when food was plentiful) was 2,140 calories and 93 grams of protein, considerably greater than the recommended daily allowance for people of their size. It’s almost inconceivable that Bushmen, who eat 75 or so wild plants, could die of starvation the way hundreds of thousands of Irish farmers and their families did during the potato famine of the 1840s.

    So the lives of at least the surviving hunter-gatherers aren’t nasty and brutish, even though farmers have pushed them into some of the world’s worst real estate. But modern hunter-gatherer societies that have rubbed shoulders with farming societies for thousands of years don’t tell us about conditions before the agricultural revolution. The progressivist view is really making a claim about the distant past: that the lives of primitive people improved when they switched from gathering to farming. Archaeologists can date that switch by distinguishing remains of wild plants and animals from those of domesticated ones in prehistoric garbage dumps.

    How can one deduce the health of the prehistoric garbage makers, and thereby directly test the progressivist view? That question has become answerable only in recent years, in part through the newly emerging techniques of paleopathology, the study of signs of disease in the remains of ancient peoples.

    In some lucky situations, the paleopathologist has almost as much material to study as a pathologist today. For example, archaeologists in the Chilean deserts found well preserved mummies whose medical conditions at time of death could be determined by autopsy. And feces of long-dead Indians who lived in dry caves in Nevada remain sufficiently well preserved to be examined for hookworm and other parasites.

    Usually the only human remains available for study are skeletons, but they permit a surprising number of deductions. To begin with, a skeleton reveals its owner’s sex, weight, and approximate age. In the few cases where there are many skeletons, one can construct mortality tables like the ones life insurance companies use to calculate expected life span and risk of death at any given age. Paleopathologists can also calculate growth rates by measuring bones of people of different ages, examine teeth for enamel defects (signs of childhood malnutrition), and recognize scars left on bones by anemia, tuberculosis, leprosy, and other diseases.

    One straight forward example of what paleopathologists have learned from skeletons concerns historical changes in height. Skeletons from Greece and Turkey show that the average height of hunter-gatherers toward the end of the ice ages was a generous 5′ 9″ for men, 5′ 5″ for women. With the adoption of agriculture, height crashed, and by 3000 B.C. had reached a low of only 5′ 3″ for men, 5′ for women. By classical times heights were very slowly on the rise again, but modern Greeks and Turks have still not regained the average height of their distant ancestors.

    Another example of paleopathology at work is the study of Indian skeletons from burial mounds in the Illinois and Ohio river valleys. At Dickson Mounds, located near the confluence of the Spoon and Illinois rivers, archaeologists have excavated some 800 skeletons that paint a picture of the health changes that occurred when a hunter-gatherer culture gave way to intensive maize farming around A.D. 1150. Studies by George Armelagos and his colleagues then at the University of Massachusetts show these early farmers paid a price for their new-found livelihood. Compared to the hunter-gatherers who preceded them, the farmers had a nearly 50 percent increase in [tooth] enamel defects indicative of malnutrition, a fourfold increase in iron-deficiency anemia (evidenced by a bone condition called porotic hyperostosis), a threefold rise in bone lesions reflecting infectious disease in general, and an increase in degenerative conditions of the spine, probably reflecting a lot of hard physical labor. “Life expectancy at birth in the pre-agricultural community was about twenty-six years,” says Armelagos, “but in the post-agricultural community it was nineteen years. So these episodes of nutritional stress and infectious disease were seriously affecting their ability to survive.”

    The evidence suggests that the Indians at Dickson Mounds, like many other primitive peoples, took up farming not by choice but from necessity in order to feed their constantly growing numbers. “I don’t think most hunter-gatherers farmed until they had to, and when they switched to farming they traded quality for quantity,” says Mark Cohen of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, co-editor with Armelagos, of one of the seminal books in the field, Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture. “When I first started making that argument ten years ago, not many people agreed with me. Now it’s become a respectable, albeit controversial, side of the debate.”

    There are at least three sets of reasons to explain the findings that agriculture was bad for health. First, hunter-gatherers enjoyed a varied diet, while early farmers obtained most of their food from one or a few starchy crops. The farmers gained cheap calories at the cost of poor nutrition. (Today just three high-carbohydrate plants - wheat, rice, and corn - provide the bulk of the calories consumed by the human species, yet each one is deficient in certain vitamins or amino acids essential to life.) Second, because of dependence on a limited number of crops, farmers ran the risk of starvation if one crop failed. Finally, the mere fact that agriculture encouraged people to clump together in crowded societies, many of which then carried on trade with other crowded societies, led to the spread of parasites and infectious disease. (Some archaeologists think it was the crowding, rather than agriculture, that promoted disease, but this is a chicken-and-egg argument, because crowding encourages agriculture and vice versa.) Epidemics couldn’t take hold when populations were scattered in small bands that constantly shifted camp. Tuberculosis and diarrheal disease had to await the rise of farming, measles and bubonic plague the appearance of large cities.

    Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions. Hunter-gatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day. Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others. Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing elite set itself above the disease-ridden masses. Skeletons from Greek tombs at Mycenae circa 1500 B.C. suggest that royals enjoyed a better diet than commoners, since the royal skeletons were two or three inches taller and had better teeth (on the average, one instead of six cavities or missing teeth). Among Chilean mummies from circa A.D. 1000, the elite were distinguished not only by ornaments and gold hair clips but also by a fourfold lower rate of bone lesions caused by disease.

    Similar contrasts in nutrition and health persist on a global scale today. To people in rich countries like the U.S., it sounds ridiculous to extol the virtues of hunting and gathering. But Americans are an elite, dependent on oil and minerals that must often be imported from countries with poorer health and nutrition. If one could choose between being a peasant farmer in Ethiopia or a bushman gatherer in the Kalahari, which do you think would be the better choice?

    Farming may have encouraged inequality between the sexes, as well. Freed from the need to transport their babies during a nomadic existence, and under pressure to produce more hands to till the fields, farming women tended to have more frequent pregnancies than their hunter-gatherer counterparts - with consequent drains on their health. Among the Chilean mummies for example, more women than men had bone lesions from infectious disease.

    Women in agricultural societies were sometimes made beasts of burden. In New Guinea farming communities today I often see women staggering under loads of vegetables and firewood while the men walk empty-handed. Once while on a field trip there studying birds, I offered to pay some villagers to carry supplies from an airstrip to my mountain camp. The heaviest item was a 110-pound bag of rice, which I lashed to a pole and assigned to a team of four men to shoulder together. When I eventually caught up with the villagers, the men were carrying light loads, while one small woman weighing less than the bag of rice was bent under it, supporting its weight by a cord across her temples.

    As for the claim that agriculture encouraged the flowering of art by providing us with leisure time, modern hunter-gatherers have at least as much free time as do farmers. The whole emphasis on leisure time as a critical factor seems to me misguided. Gorillas have had ample free time to build their own Parthenon, had they wanted to. While post-agricultural technological advances did make new art forms possible and preservation of art easier, great paintings and sculptures were already being produced by hunter-gatherers 15,000 years ago, and were still being produced as recently as the last century by such hunter-gatherers as some Eskimos and the Indians of the Pacific Northwest.

    Thus with the advent of agriculture an elite became better off, but most people became worse off. Instead of swallowing the progressivist party line that we chose agriculture because it was good for us, we must ask how we got trapped by it despite its pitfalls.

    One answer boils down to the adage, “Might makes right.” Farming could support many more people than hunting, albeit with a poorer quality of life. Population densities of hunter-gatherers are rarely over one person per ten square miles, while farmers average 100 times that. Partly, this is because a field planted entirely in edible crops lets one feed far more mouths than a forest with scattered edible plants. Partly, too, it’s because nomadic hunter-gatherers have to keep their children spaced at four-year intervals by infanticide and other means, since a mother must carry her toddler until it’s old enough to keep up with the adults. Because farm women don’t have that burden, they can and often do bear a child every two years.

    As population densities of hunter-gatherers slowly rose at the end of the ice ages, bands had to choose between feeding more mouths by taking the first steps toward agriculture, or else finding ways to limit growth. Some bands chose the former solution, unable to anticipate the evils of farming, and seduced by the transient abundance they enjoyed until population growth caught up with increased food production. Such bands outbred and then drove off or killed the bands that chose to remain hunter-gatherers, because a hundred malnourished farmers can still outfight one healthy hunter. It’s not that hunter-gatherers abandoned their life style, but that those sensible enough not to abandon it were forced out of all areas except the ones farmers didn’t want.

    At this point it’s instructive to recall the common complaint that archaeology is a luxury, concerned with the remote past and offering no lessons for the present. Archaeologists studying the rise of farming have reconstructed a crucial stage at which we made the worst mistake in human history. Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny. Hunter-gatherers practiced the most successful and longest-lasting life style in human history. In contrast, we’re still struggling with the mess into which agriculture has tumbled us, and it’s unclear whether we can solve it.

    Suppose that an archaeologist who had visited from outer space were trying to explain human history to his fellow spacelings. He might illustrate the results of his digs by a 24-hour clock on which one hour represents 100,000 years of real past time. If the history of the human race began at midnight, then we would now be almost at the end of our first day. We lived as hunter-gatherers for nearly the whole of that day, from midnight through dawn, noon, and sunset. Finally, at 11:54 p. m. we adopted agriculture. As our second midnight approaches, will the plight of famine-stricken peasants gradually spread to engulf us all? Or will we somehow achieve those seductive blessings that we imagine behind agriculture’s glittering facade, and that have so far eluded us?

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    Last edited by Lucid Memes on Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:34 pm; edited 3 times in total


    _________________
    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    link
    avatar
    missingyoumadly
    Blue Belt
    Blue Belt

    Number of posts : 345
    Registration date : 2009-02-12
    Location : South of the Mason-Dixon Line

    Re: The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by missingyoumadly on Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:04 am

    This is a fascinating article and makes a lot of sense.

    The author doesn't talk in detail about the hazards of domesticating animals either; for example, prior to domesticating cattle and beginning to utilize the milk for nutrition, humans were actually lactose intolerant - we were never meant to drink milk. However as humans began to do so, most developed the intestinal enzymes needed to digest dairy. Now, people who are lactose intolerant are simply showing a recessive trait which means that their intestines do not produce this enzyme.

    Another issue with domestic animals would seem to be that they would be more likely to become diseased or malnourished due to being crammed together in pens and unable to roam the land to feed. This has developed into the horror of modern animal farming, with farmers having to resort to prophylactic antibiotics as well as artificial growth hormones to create the sort of animals "fit" for human consumption.

    This article, in my opinion, is more proof of the butterfly effect in the universe...one small change leads to many others. Some of the initial thoughts I have as I read it are:

    -agriculture and animal domestication destroys large portions of earth which if left alone would have likely provided enough food for the population

    -population "control" would not be necessary if we lived off the natural land. The author mentions infanticade as a method of reducing population; I wonder if this is true. I know that if women do not use birth control AND they breastfeed their babies until the babies lead the weaning, then weaning occurs at around 1 year or so, at which time the mother is again fertile. So for most women, if no birth control is used, a baby will be born every two years. This allows time for the mother's body to heal from the previous pregnancy and to care for her infant without interference from another child. I have to wonder if cavewomen would have had a different physiology. They surely wouldn't have known how to prevent a pregnancy (maybe?) however, she probably would have tended to breastfeed longer for health reasons. The average age of weaning in the world today is 4 years. This indicates that MANY children are nursed well into childhood, as much as 7 years. This would have been beneficial for these children as well as the mothers because it would have fed them, protected them against disease, and ensured they stayed close to their mothers for safety. So, my point is, if these cavebabies were weaned at age 3 or 4, then births would have also been spread over 4 years rather than 2. This would have been a healthy way to reduce the population and ensure enough food for everyone. I am sure infanticide occurred (it still does now, more than you want to know in many parts of the world). Archeologists have shown through fossil records that "imperfect" babies were often killed, probably due to the difficulty on the rest of a tribe in raising them. Babies and children were not romanticized at all until very recently in history; it seems just as likely that a lamed or senile adult would have been killed as well for the apparent benefit of the tribe. Harsh, but that's reality and survival.

    -His point that agricultural societies tend to depend on ONE type of food is interesting. The potato famine occurred for just that reason. Hunter-gatherer societies would have been far more varied in their diets, even if they ate the same things for periods of time due to availability.

    -Also, it seems to me that the reason why farming cultures work so much harder is because most farms do not produce only for the family who lives there - food became currency, and most would prefer to produce enough to sell or barter for income. This would mean that a small family might keep a very large farm, and require many more hours of labor in order to do so.

    Very good article, Preston, I think it is too bad that we are so reliant on agriculture for our food. We are going to starve because of it, I believe, and there are probably not enough natural resources left to feed everyone. Bad scene indeed.
    avatar
    Lucid Memes
    Red Belt
    Red Belt

    Number of posts : 1111
    Registration date : 2009-02-12
    Location : Here Be Dragons

    Re: The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by Lucid Memes on Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:11 am

    Wow MYM, I think your previous field of study allows you to grasp this well. IMO, the significance of this is central to the system itself. The societal organization which developed from the neolithic revolution is the infrastructural basis for the system.

    With the beginning of agriculture, societies gave up their nomadic way of living and instead adopted a sedentary system that made them dependent on the land they chose to yield harvest from. With population density overwhelming, the likelihood of crop failure would be utterly devastating to that society. So they would either resort to sacrificing its own people, or going out and conquering neighboring lands for their resources (or maybe both)... When there’s not enough food to feed your society, you either limit your numbers or get more food by any means possible. So what you have here is the beginning of standing armies and war as a means to control large population growth in association with resource dynamics.

    Increasing social complexity requires management...so division of labor was used to segment the population into a caste system where people are bred for labor. And likewise, a select group breeds for management and rulership in an ever increasing hierarchy. It is theorized that the very thing that caused man to recognize male paternity was the observation of crop growth. If you drop your seed into the ground, your food will grow during the following season…and if you drop your seed into a female, your child will be born nine months later. So the relationship between private ownership of fertile lands and the ownership of females (for the birthing of more laborers) was recognized and controlled by the male descendants of royal bloodlines through this process.

    missingyoumadly wrote:-agriculture and animal domestication destroys large portions of earth which if left alone would have likely provided enough food for the population

    I’ve heard author Richard Manning discuss how most of the main agricultural crops that man depends on (wheat, grain, rice, corn) are really disaster plants. In nature these plants take advantage of catastrophes like floods, fires and volcanoes. And for man to harvest them for mass consumption, we have to almost recreate a disaster like scenario to the soil before making them grow.

    It should be interesting to note, that in the fertile crescent (the land where agriculture arose from), there may have been an ecological cataclysm (which would've devastated the surrounding plant and animals life in the Middle East) that may have caused the human populations to adopt crop and animal domestication as a last ditch survival alternative to limited hunting and gathering possibilities.


    _________________
    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    link
    avatar
    Lucid Memes
    Red Belt
    Red Belt

    Number of posts : 1111
    Registration date : 2009-02-12
    Location : Here Be Dragons

    Re: The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by Lucid Memes on Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:43 am

    missingyoumadly wrote:-population "control" would not be necessary if we lived off the natural land. The author mentions infanticade as a method of reducing population; I wonder if this is true. I know that if women do not use birth control AND they breastfeed their babies until the babies lead the weaning, then weaning occurs at around 1 year or so, at which time the mother is again fertile. So for most women, if no birth control is used, a baby will be born every two years. This allows time for the mother's body to heal from the previous pregnancy and to care for her infant without interference from another child. I have to wonder if cavewomen would have had a different physiology. They surely wouldn't have known how to prevent a pregnancy (maybe?) however, she probably would have tended to breastfeed longer for health reasons. The average age of weaning in the world today is 4 years. This indicates that MANY children are nursed well into childhood, as much as 7 years. This would have been beneficial for these children as well as the mothers because it would have fed them, protected them against disease, and ensured they stayed close to their mothers for safety. So, my point is, if these cavebabies were weaned at age 3 or 4, then births would have also been spread over 4 years rather than 2. This would have been a healthy way to reduce the population and ensure enough food for everyone. I am sure infanticide occurred (it still does now, more than you want to know in many parts of the world). Archeologists have shown through fossil records that "imperfect" babies were often killed, probably due to the difficulty on the rest of a tribe in raising them. Babies and children were not romanticized at all until very recently in history; it seems just as likely that a lamed or senile adult would have been killed as well for the apparent benefit of the tribe. Harsh, but that's reality and survival.

    Right, and I've heard similar concept about this. There's a limited number of people a hunter/gatherer group could keep to provide for itself. I forget the estimated acreage per person, but the circumstance of this lifestyle doesn't allow for much more than several families living side by side. But other than extreme measures such as infanticide, the prolonged breast feeding is much less drastic. I’ve also heard of tribal women in some parts of the world that take certain herbs that prevented pregnancy.

    But whatever one may think of this, I feel the lesson here that is relevant to the system, is that before the agriculture's hierarchal infrastructure, families themselves were responsible for their own population control and it was not the responsibility of a non-related ruling elite! They of course who preside over masses today, see themselves as responsible for culling off the world population to save the planet.


    _________________
    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    link
    avatar
    splinters
    Yellow Belt
    Yellow Belt

    Number of posts : 69
    Registration date : 2009-04-15

    Re: The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by splinters on Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:17 pm

    I’ve heard author Richard Manning discuss how most of the main agricultural crops that man depends on (wheat, grain, rice, corn) are really disaster plants. In nature these plants take advantage of catastrophes like floods, fires and volcanoes. And for man to harvest them for mass consumption, we have to almost recreate a disaster like scenario to the soil before making them grow.

    It should be interesting to note, that in the fertile crescent (the land where agriculture arose from), there may have been an ecological cataclysm (which would've devastated the surrounding plant and animals life in the Middle East) that may have caused the human populations to adopt crop and animal domestication as a last ditch survival alternative to limited hunting and gathering possibilities.

    I will be taking a look at Richard Mannings work, I havent read much into this topic however I would tend to agree that the widespread adoption of the major grains worldwide as the staple resembles a last ditch effort. Or its demise parallels the rise of governmental systems.

    Grain was superior to wild fruits/vegetables/plants as it was easy to store and could be processed to last even longer. Taxation of grain production, keeping it from the tribe and in the hands of few was the early economy.

    Food as a weapon arrived on the scene shortly after the club and spear.
    avatar
    Klore
    White Belt
    White Belt

    Number of posts : 3
    Registration date : 2009-04-22

    How long has civilization existed and why?

    Post by Klore on Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:52 pm

    This thread has been edited to contain several posts of this topic's subject matter. Spoiler tags were used for surface brevity.

    - Lucid Memes




    The "Illumined Elite" seem to have a firm idea of the antiquity of their traditions, religion, philosophy and apparatus and infrastructure of control. However, what do we really know about the duration of civilization or culture on Earth. Why does it exist in the first place and how did it come to be?

    Here are a few pieces of information or evidence which tries in different ways to ascertain and to target the features of the past (the marker of 10,000 BC may be significant in some way here):

    Australia:

    55 000 BC
    Australia was inhabited as far back as 55 000 BC or even earlier (100 000 BC by latest reports) by its indigenous people.

    7000 - 5000 BC
    Earliest visible evidence of Aboriginal belief connected with the Rainbow Serpent. This becomes the longest continuing religious belief in the world.
    (Source: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] )

    Egypt:

    Spoiler:
    Middle Paleolithic: 100,000 - 30,000 BC


    Between the Lower and Middle Paleolithic eras, the Abbassia Pluvial ended and the Sahara returned to a desert state. By this time Homo erectus had evolved into Homo neanderthalensis, and began to escape the encroaching desert by migrating to the Nile Valley and to the oases that were left, such as the one at Kharga.

    It was about this time that a more efficient stone tool industry developed. Called Levalloisian after the site in France where tools of this style were first discovered, it involves the making of several stone tools from one piece of stone by chipping a number of similarly sized and shaped flakes from around the circumference of the stone.

    It was during Middle Paleolithic times that early humans began to spread throughout the area. The development of these new stone industries and survival techniques, coupled with the Mousterian Pluvial (which was even greater than the Abbassian that preceded it) between 50,000 and 30,000 BC caused a widespread distribution of early human culture. Whereas Lower Paleolithic sites are few and far between, Middle Paleolithic sites are scattered all over Egypt and the Sudan, from the Nile Valley to the coast of the Red Sea to even the now-hostile Liqiya depression in the southern Libyan Desert. The Mousterian Pluvial caused the Sahara to bloom like never before, not only in vegetation and wildlife, but also in new human settlements. By this time, early humans (still Neanderthaloid) had spread to almost every habitable area of North Africa.

    Two new industries emerged during the Mousterian Pluvial, those being the Aterian Industry and the Khormusan Industry. The Aterian Industry, named for the type site at Bir-el-Ater in Tunisia, began some time around 40,000 BC, about the middle of the pluvial, and ended just shy of 30,000 BC. Aterian points are characterized by a distinct "tang" or plug on the bottom, which allowed for a more secure fit to the spear shaft. Originally thought to be arrow points, Aterian points may have been far too bulky to be used on primitive arrows, and were more likely points for a smaller variety of spear, the dart, which was more efficient in hunting small game than the normal-sized spear. Another invention of the Aterian Industry was that of the spear-thrower, a small length of wood with a notch at one end for the back end of the spear shaft, which allowed for greater power in throws as well as greater accuracy. These new developments permitted increased efficiency in hunting large grazing animals.

    In the Khormusan Industry, stone tools became even more varied and advanced, and tools made of bone and ground hematite became widespread. Of course, these industries did not follow one another one by one, but rather overlap by several thousand years as well as in area. The Khormusan is noted above all for the prolific use of a small, sharp point that greatly resembles the early arrow points of the Native Americans. In fact, such points were used during the Upper Paleolithic to tip the arrows developed at that time. Whether the Khormusans developed bow technology is still under debate, as is whether the Aterians did. Regardless, the Khormusans were certainly efficient hunters, as well as being gatherers and fishers, and their diet resembled that of the Aterians, and added wild cattle (think of cattle roughly twice as big as our domestic cattle), and fish from the Nile. These animals came from many different in the Nile Valley and the surrounding area, so Khormusan hunting parties must have ranged from the river itself to the savanna grasslands. These two industries, or rather, these two cultures, for such they were, existed almost side-by-side until the end of the pluvial, foreshadowing the the great cultural cross-sections that would inhabit Dynastic Egypt thousands of years later.
    (Source: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] )

    Upper Paleolithic: 30,000 - 10,000 BC


    Some time around the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic, or in the few centuries before it, the Mousterian Pluvial ended and desert once again reclaimed the Sahara region. Fleeing the desert, many of the peoples settled in the area migrated closer and closer to the Nile. It is possibly during this time that various tribes began to interact, providing a much wider gene pool on which to draw. It is unfortunate that little is known about the period from 40,000 - 17,000 BC. However, it is easy to draw conclusions based on earlier and later events. The growing barrenness of the Sahara would obviously cause many of the settlements to die of starvation, and once again survival of the human race in this area depended on the Nile. Naturally, some industries would survive and new ones would be created. These new industries show many similar trends, especially that of the miniaturization of tools, possibly as a desire to conserve resources.

    Oddly though, almost as soon as this protoagriculture was developed, it appears to have been abandoned. Beginning around 10,500 BC, the stone sickles that were so predominant seem to simply fade out of the picture and there is a return to the hunter-gatherer-fisher culture that came before. Invasion by another people is a possible explanation, though a series of natural disasters that devastated the fledgling crops is more logical, as we are dealing with abandonment by not one, but many prehistoric societies over a widespread area. At first it would seem that the growing aridity of the environment was the cause. Certainly, given the present state of the Sahara and the surrounding area, this is a logical conclusion, but new evidence shows that this period was marked by a series of rather severe and violent Nile floods which could have destroyed the "farmlands" and discouraged the people from continuing to rely on crops as a dietary index.

    It was about this time that the demise of the various Paleolithic peoples in Egypt began. It may very well be that the abandonment of protoagriculture contributed to this, but the discovery of the Jebel Sahaba cemetery sheds some new light on the end of many Paleolithic cultures. In all, three Qadan cemeteries are known: one at Tushka, and two at Jebel Sahaba, one on each side of the river. Although many of the remains unearthed at these sites are the usual cross-section of elderly and young, chieftains and commoners, there are quite a disturbing number of bodies from the final 10,000 years of the Upper Paleolithic that appear to have died by violence. Stone points found with the remains were almost all located in areas of the body that suggests penetration as spear points or similar weapons. Most were located in the chest and back area, with others in the lower abdomen, and even a few entering the skull through the lower jaw or neck area! Additionally, the lack of bony calluses as a result of healing near these points shows that in many of these cases the wound was fatal (bone tissue repairs itself rather quickly, preliminary healing often begins before even that of soft tissues). A statistical analysis of the main cemetery at Jebel Sahaba gives a figure of 40 percent of the people buried there died from wounds due to thrown projectiles; spears, darts, and arrows.

    Why then was a hunter-gatherer culture so prone to violence? One explanation is diminishing resources, caused by the growing aridity and the failure of the protoagriculture experiments. The Jebel Sahaba cemeteries must only have been used for a few generations and for that many violent deaths to occur within that time supports an explanation based on massive intertribal warfare. Also, since the victims were of all ages (except infants; only one infant is buried in each of the Jebel Sahaba cemeteries), this could indicate that the majority of the skirmishes were actually based on raiding and ambush, as "normal" warfare usually only involves young to middle-aged males. And we should not dismiss the possibility of invasion by a more advanced, or at least more powerful, people from outside, especially if Jebel Sahaba and similar sites date to as late as 7000 BC, as by then the people would have been in competition with larger and more advanced Epipaleolithic cultures.
    (Source: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] )

    Epipaleolithic: 10,000 - c. 5,500 BC


    The Epipaleolithic years are largely a transition between the Paleolithic and the Predynastic time periods in ancient Egypt, a time between the hunter-gatherers of before and the appearance of the true farming of the village-dwelling cultures after 5500 BC.

    We know more about the Sharmarkian industry than the Arkinian. A newer industry, but one that spans a much larger time period, Sharmarkian artifacts have been dated from 5750 BC to 3270 BC, if not even more recent. Although more prolific, the Sharmarkian artifacts actually show a decline in the quality of toolcraft toward the end of the Sharmarkian. Settlements of these people have been found on the beaches of soil left by the inundation. These seasonal camps merged together and grew into large concentrations of dwellings over time. There is evidence in these later Epipaleolithic sites of a population explosion around 5500 BC, possibly due to the development of true agriculture as well as animal domestication. In a very short time, geologically speaking, the people had gone from savanna nomads to riverdwellers, making a very efficient adaptation to the new environment.

    Unfortunately, we still do not know exactly when agriculture and animal domestication were discovered (or introduced by another people) in Egypt. There is an odd gap of around a thousand years between these riverine settlements of the late Epipaleolithic and the true farming villages of the Predynastic cultures during which great strides in Egyptian knowledge were made. It is even surmised that it was during this time that they began to develop the writing systems that would evolve into the hieroglyphs. There are sites in Nubia that possess possible remains of domesticated animals that date to around 5110 BC. Whether domestication was brought into Egypt or was discovered within her borders is still a debated topic. All things aside, this final time period before the Predynastic age remains a very important problem for researchers. Each new discovery, though, sheds more light on the history of the first Egyptians.
    (Source: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] )

    Revision of some ideas concerning ancient civilizations on the Mediterranean Sea:

    Spoiler:
    New Evidence Spurs Fresh Thinking on Ancient Civilizations


    By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
    Published: May 2, 2006

    Imagine if the chronology of early American history were off by 100 years, and it was really 1392 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Scholars have long argued over the possibility of a time discrepancy of similar magnitude for a crucial period in the Late Bronze Age of Greece and the Aegean world.

    Scientists now report new radiocarbon evidence to support the contention that the Late Bronze Age in the Aegean began in the 17th century B.C., at least a century before the date previously assumed by many scholars. The radiocarbon samples showed that the age extended from about 1700 B.C. to 1400 B.C.

    If correct, the earlier date would require a critical re-examination of cultural and trade relationships at the time between Minoan Crete, Mycenaean Greece and Cyprus, on the one hand, and the civilizations of Egypt and the rest of the Middle East.

    It would mean that the Crete of the elaborate palaces that tourists flock to see and of the legends of King Minos reached an apex a century earlier than once thought.

    Specifically, two independent radiocarbon studies set an earlier date for the volcanic eruption on the island of Thera, now known as Santorini, which set off tsunamis and spread ash and pumice throughout the Aegean and Mediterranean region.

    The catastrophe is thought to have hastened the decline of the Minoan civilization on Crete, 70 miles away, and perhaps set the stage for the emergence of Mycenaean Greece as a wealthy power in the Aegean.
    (Source: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] )


    Perhaps the most conspicuous case of an ancient civilization whose achievements are misinterpreted and ignored is that of Egypt. Most commentators briefly praise the structural perfection of the Great Pyramid of Giza, its two major companions, and the Sphinx, but only a few have the expertise or inclination to assess these achievements in technology or to explore the detailed astronomical orientations or the considerable knowledge of astronomy itself indicated by the early builders. Robert Bauval, a well-known Egyptian-born construction engineer, has co-authored two important books on these subjects. The Orion Mystery: Unlocking the Secrets of the Pyramids, written with Adrian Gilbert, (2) asks why the Pyramids at Giza were built, looks into the significance of the pyramid texts -- largely ignored since their discovery in the 1800s -- and explores the placement of the pyramids in relation to the main stars in the "belt" of Orion. This orientation was linked, moreover, to the precession of the equinoxes: that is, when the sunrise at the vernal equinox entered a new "location" or constellation of the zodiac. The authors cite evidence suggesting that the Great Pyramid may have been planned about 10,500 BC, even if built or completed later (c. 2450 BC), because the alignments are exactly calculated for the time when the constellation Leo rose at the vernal equinox, ushering in the "Age of Leo." (3)

    As above, so below: the celestial configuration at sunrise on the spring equinox about 10,500 BC is reflected in the Giza pyramids and Sphinx. Osiris (the constellation Orion) reaches his southernmost point -- and closest proximity to earth -- marking the beginning of the 26,000-year precessional cycle. The arrangement of the three pyramids mirrors his belt of three stars, which lie directly on the north-south meridian. The constellation Leo rises in the east, where the Sphinx watches, marking the 2,160-year Age of Leo; and the Milky Way (the Egyptians' Celestial Nile) appears to flow into its earthly counterpart.

    In his Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings: Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age (1966), Professor Charles H. Hapgood provided a wealth of material to support his subtitle, in the form of mathematical data, reproductions of old maps, as well as useful appendices of evidence and, perhaps most valuable, a chapter devoted to a "Civilization that Vanished." The four new books mentioned -- Hapgood is cited in two of them -- provide additional pointers to the existence of a former civilization of high technological achievement and considerable intellectual development, called by some "Atlantis." Certainly, advanced civilizations in the distant past point to the cyclic rise and fall of human cultures and races extending much further back into "prehistory" than currently accepted.

    We are indebted to Plato for the name Atlantis, much hackneyed nowadays by all sorts of somewhat fanciful assertions. Some have noted the resemblance between Plato's description of the capital of his island of Atlantis and some structures in the Americas. We find in Teotihuacan, Mexico, for example, the remains of a large city dominated by two pyramids, with streets identified by astronomer Gerald Hawkins as oriented to stars: one in the constellation Ursa Minor, another in the Pleiades, a third to Sirius -- important also to the Egyptians because of their understanding of the Sothic cycle of 1,460 years, and so on. The Mayans themselves reported that an alien race (whom they called "gods") came over the seas and taught them symbolic writing and how to build pyramids. Some modern researchers speculate that these people were the Egyptians, or that Atlantis was located in the ancient Americas. It is possible, however, that the Egyptians and ancient Americans shared a common heritage, and that in the Western Hemisphere there are remains of colonies established as parts of a global empire or by survivors of disasters that destroyed the motherland. (5)

    The devastating occurrences many thousands of years ago that provided the core of myths and legends among diverse peoples, must have resulted in the annihilation of millions. Survivors migrating to different parts of those lands above the seas could have inspired the stories of visits by "gods." Who were these brilliant individuals who seemed to be gods to those other survivors? Were they not the inheritors of a great civilization who transmitted their own heritage?
    (Source: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] )
    " Ancient Civilisations: Six Great Enigmas":

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    Artificial filaments found in mineral desposits many millenia old:
    Spoiler:


    That unforgettable day, there was a dispute about the age of the mined ice. One of our specialists was persuaded that the age of the piece of ice was 20,000 years, while another said it was 13,000 years old, because namely at that time a global catastrophe took place which annihilated Athlantis and caused global glaciation. Though, the opponent insisted on his position referring to scientific data: 20,000 years was the age of the wooden chip found in one of the ice pieces. The age of the chip was ascertained with radio-carbon method.

    Among the samples we chose for our research there was one, the most interesting: there were some threads. The piece of ice melted soon, and we could see several golden hairs – 2-cm-long and as thick as human hair.

    We could see through microscope that the hairs were pieces of some metal wire of goldish colour. All hairs had the same length and were cut off very accurately. While pressing upon the hairs, some dents appeared, as if the hairs were created of a soft metal.

    Later we made a chemical test, using hydrochloric, sulphuric, nitric and acetic acids. The golden hair stood the test, and now we had no doubt: the hair was gold.

    Several years passed, and in State Hydrometeorology Committee, a commission on anomalous phenomena launched its work. At one of its sittings, I told about my find. The chairman of the committee, academician Fiodorov became interested in the find and handed it over to his friend, who was the head of Crystallography Institute of Soviet Academy of Science.

    The Institute carried out the test of the hairs and concluded the stuff was alloy of gold and silver. It should be noticed that in 1984, a report appeared in the press, that US researchers had found golden hairs in Antarctic ice.

    Though, if the press does not lie, that was not a sensation. Already in 1844, the British newspaper Times reported about some golden thread found in a stone, at a depth of 2.5 m in Berwickshire. 50 years later, a piece of golden wire was found in Australian limestone, while in 1957 – in Africa, in a piece of granite. Though, the age of these finds is millions of years. Apropos, even odder things are sometimes found in stones: from nails to small gold chains and vessels of “some complex metal” which seem to have got there dozens of millions years ago.

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
    (Source: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] )

    Extremely ancient maps, thousands or maybe millions of years old and conveying and depicting very interesting features and implications:
    Spoiler:


    The Piri Reis map shows the western coast of Africa, the eastern coast of South America, and the northern coast of Antarctica. The northern coastline of Antarctica is perfectly detailed. The most puzzling however is not so much how Piri Reis managed to draw such an accurate map of the Antarctic region 300 years before it was discovered, but that the map shows the coastline under the ice. Geological evidence confirms that the latest date Queen Maud Land could have been charted in an ice-free state is 4000 BC.
    -> [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

    Back in 1992 a Pravda story about an ancient 3D aerial high technology map made a big splash all over the internet and to a much lesser degree, the "conventional" press (apologies, but it was in Pravda not the New York Times).

    It was claimed that a 5 foot, one ton slab found in Ufa, Russia (map of the creator) was a 120 million year old ancient topographical map, manufactured through an unknown process, and clearly was the product of an advanced civilization.

    What made the story so unusual, outside of the facts presented were that the claims were being made by the head of the Physics and Engineering Department at a well known, Russian University.

    The proponent of the claims, Aleksandr Nikolayevich Chuvyrov, had a doctorate in both physics and mathematics and had previously published many peer reviewed articles within his specialty. When he gives his opinion on the manufacturing of the stone slab, you will see by reading his Curriculum Vitae below that he is an expert in that field.
    -> [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
    -> Press conference: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    Last edited by Klore on Sun Apr 26, 2009 2:03 pm; edited 2 times in total
    avatar
    splinters
    Yellow Belt
    Yellow Belt

    Number of posts : 69
    Registration date : 2009-04-15

    Re: The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by splinters on Sun Apr 26, 2009 2:20 pm

    If the piri reis map is the real deal, then we may tip the history books upside down.


    I believe "civil"ization is older than estimated. Ive got a hunch its about 100 000 years old. Prior to the big achievements being built in stone there would have emerged a complex verbal languages and traditions. I think establishing the first mystery schools would have taken a thousand years. Creating the myan calendar would have taken a thousand years.


    So in summation I think civilization or its technologies are old, and the human race much older.
    avatar
    Extant
    Brown Belt
    Brown Belt

    Number of posts : 555
    Registration date : 2009-04-04
    Location : The Forge

    Re: The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by Extant on Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:37 pm

    Good post Klore. As for 'How long has civilization lasted and why?' I'll go for the idea that various civilizations have rose and fell, almost certainly over one hundred to two hundred thousand years.
    The current wave of 'civilized' living, with this era as a rather dubious pinnacle, I would go for around the 10 000 BCE mark. It's impossible to pin down with any certainty though.

    But who does know for sure? It's almost certainly been the case that various cataclysms and ice ages have decimated man's feeble attempts to dominate the earth various times, and scattered a rag-tag motley group of survivors to the four points. How many times though, and how far back in time? Question

    warrenBbull
    Orange Belt
    Orange Belt

    Number of posts : 80
    Registration date : 2009-03-03

    Re: The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by warrenBbull on Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:21 pm

    Klore wrote:The "Illumined Elite" seem to have a firm idea of the antiquity of their traditions, religion, philosophy and apparatus and infrastructure of control. However, what do we really know about the duration of civilization or culture on Earth. Why does it exist in the first place and how did it come to be?

    Here are a few pieces of information or evidence which tries in different ways to ascertain and to target the features of the past (the marker of 10,000 BC may be significant in some way here):

    Great post Klore Very Happy
    avatar
    Lucid Memes
    Red Belt
    Red Belt

    Number of posts : 1111
    Registration date : 2009-02-12
    Location : Here Be Dragons

    Re: The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by Lucid Memes on Fri May 01, 2009 1:15 pm

    For those who are interested. Here's an interview with Richard Manning

    Agriculture and Civilization

    In this episode, I interview Richard Manning, essayist and author of a number of books about agriculture and civilization. In this interview, we talk with Richard about the beginning of agriculture, the role annual grasses have played in shaping agriculture and civilization, the importance of grasslands, and the key to finding individual food niches within our local food sheds. This one is not to be missed.

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    _________________
    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    link
    avatar
    Lucid Memes
    Red Belt
    Red Belt

    Number of posts : 1111
    Registration date : 2009-02-12
    Location : Here Be Dragons

    Re: The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by Lucid Memes on Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:43 pm

    This is from an interview with geneticist Spencer Wells

    [...]Then, about 10,000 years ago we invented agriculture and underwent the most dramatic of all changes to our lifestyle. From semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, we settled down to a life of farming that led to a dramatic expansion of the population and the establishment of cities and organised religion and culture.

    The ramifications of this transition, the subject of Wells' latest book, Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilisation, are still with us today. "Many of the crises we see in the 21st century, I would argue, have their roots in the dawn of the Neolithic," he says. "We spent an enormous amount of time as hominids and as primates living as hunter-gatherers. That is the natural way for us to live, and we're suddenly living in this profoundly unnatural way, and we're still in the process of adapting to it and working out how to live with it."

    The shift from a hunter-gathering lifestyle to an agricultural way of life, he believes, has not just led to many of the environmental problems we face today, it has caused some of dire medical disorders, from infectious diseases and obesity to the mental illnesses that are rampant in modern, urban living. "Since we settled down, population density increased massively. We became sedentary and the foods we ate changed enormously from the days we were hunter-gatherers," he explains. "We were once used to living in groups of no more than about 150 individuals. Now we live in cities of millions and the cultural cacophony creates a feeling of unease and we are seeing evidence of that with the rise of mental illness."

    Despite the immense problems facing the human species in the 21st century, Wells believes there is hope – what he calls "Pandora's seed". When Pandora opened the box, she at least had to slap it shut fast enough to contain hope. "The hope is that humans are innately innovative and that we can innovate very rapidly when we're forced to," Wells says. Our one hope for continued survival, he seems to suggest, is the innate creativity of the same large brain that arguably helped to create much of the mess we find ourselves in today.

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    _________________
    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    link
    avatar
    Extant
    Brown Belt
    Brown Belt

    Number of posts : 555
    Registration date : 2009-04-04
    Location : The Forge

    Re: The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by Extant on Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:21 am

    I read about that book a little while ago. Will probably get hold of it soon, looks a very interesting read.
    avatar
    Lucid Memes
    Red Belt
    Red Belt

    Number of posts : 1111
    Registration date : 2009-02-12
    Location : Here Be Dragons

    Re: The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by Lucid Memes on Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:04 pm

    Yeah it does. I used to be a Green Anarchist, but they became too misanthropic even for me. I think the key here is to not go to extremes with it, but to understand our selves as natural beings and how we're meant to function, and to operate beneficially whilst maintaining the achievements of civilization; and to also make civ less burdensome on people and on the planet. What I just said is somewhat heretical to the GA movement, but I no longer care to that extent lol.


    _________________
    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    link

    Sponsored content

    Re: The Hazards of Civilization

    Post by Sponsored content


      Current date/time is Sun May 28, 2017 6:20 pm