Changing History: The Ferris Wheel of Lost Civilizations
Although history textbooks often present information as if it is set in stone and firmly established, recent research into ancient civilization reveals one embarrassing fact that continuously seems to elude expert analysis. Simply put, no one culture ever claims to be the first. Civilizations which have formed and, in some cases, disappeared, almost always seem to come equipped with a back story. In virtually every historical example, someone came before. No matter how far back in time one goes, legends and mythologies of founders who had mysteriously arrived from somewhere else rise to the surface.
Take, for example a recent discovery announced by the Israel Antiquities Authority in July of 2019. It put the dating of the whole traditional Agricultural Revolution hypothesis into question. Archaeologists uncovered evidence of a city at Tel Moza, that seemed to exist in a transforming phase between hunting/gathering culture and the invention of agriculture, casting doubts upon traditional theories of urban life in the Levant.
Archaeological excavations near Motza, Israel. ( Bukvoet / CC BY-SA 4.0 )
While engaged in a highway construction project, Israeli workers brought this previously undiscovered and unknown city that supported a population of 2,000 to 3,000 people to light. A group of archaeologists led by Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Dr. Jacob Vardi worked on the project for 18 months. What they revealed was a huge stone age settlement about a third of a mile (half a kilometer) in length. It contained residential buildings, places of worship, alleyways, and plastered floors and walls. Back in its heyday it would have been considered metropolis, producing indications that people had lived in this fertile valley for perhaps as long as 20,000 years.
As of yet there has been no official apology in the popular press confirming that so-called ‘alternative historians’ may have been correct in their assessments of ancient origins, but these and other discoveries forces one to believe that no one really knows where and when civilization began.
Ancient agriculture. Mural in the burial chamber of Sennedjem (circa 1200) ( Public Domain )
What is Civilization?
There is a baseline that most archaeologists accept, but before describing it some definitions are in order. What, for instance, is meant by the word ‘civilization’? Most theories assume that civilization began with settled towns or cities. A ‘civilized’ culture is thus an urban one. This, of course, requires a stable food supply, which eliminates any cultures that existed before the Agricultural Revolution.
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Jim Willis is author of several books on religion and spirituality, he has been an ordained minister for over forty years while working part-time as a carpenter, the host of his own drive-time radio show, an arts council director and adjunct college professor in the fields of World Religions and Instrumental Music. He is the author of The Quantum Akashic Field: A Guide to Out-of-Body Experiences for the Astral Traveler
Top Image : From the royal tombs of Ur, the Standard of Ur mosaic, made of lapis lazuli and shell, shows peacetime. ( Public Domain )
By Jim Willis
Civilization requires a stable food supply... well, that certainly leaves agriculture out of the loop