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Stratiographic Integrity


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#1    Considered_Ignorance

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 02:37 AM

Considering the calamitous nature of the Earth's geography over time, could there have been even brief periods of extreme degradation and/or erosion that effectively wipe periods of history from the archaelogical record?

What if some enormously destructive event were to happen today, one that brought the end of civilisation, the destruction of the built environment, and began a period of instability that eroded or transformed the remaining evidence of modern man?

Could the overwhelming evidence of a mere one to five housand years even of history be so erased that subsequent stratiographic deposits would in the future indicate a mere continuation of prehistoric man with perhaps a few queer anomolies?

Just how reliable is the stratiographic record upon which our history is based? Our digging is limited to those few spots of intersting things or when convienient holes unearth something. could a thousand or more years of history be missing from those tiny specks of our stratiographic record which we have uncovered?

Edited by Considered_Ignorance, 16 November 2013 - 03:10 AM.


#2    Likely Guy

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 04:44 AM

I'm no expert but I don't think that we limit our 'dating techniques' to just stratigraphy. That was just the first dating technique, which has always proved highly reliable though. Yes, we've only been reading the earth's record for a few hundred years and I'm sure that the story will get far more interesting as we go.

I think that what you're asking is, if I think that we, or a civilization like us (before us), could have been wiped from the historical earthly record. At this date in time, I'm sure that many cultures are yet to be recorded and still stand to teach us a few things, but as far as cultures like ours before us? I'd say, no.

Deeper than the archaeological and paleontological records - the geologists dwell (they're like the dwarves of Middle Earth). They've seen 100's of thousands, probably millions of miles of core samples taken from a fairly representative sample of the earth and never seen a thing out of the ordinary. I've known many geologists and I've never met one that could keep a secret like that.

But, that's just my opinion. Who really knows?


#3    jaylemurph

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 04:59 AM

There really haven't been any really calamitous -- as in seriously scrambling large-scale geographical areas in the manner you seem to be suggesting -- in the past 100,000 years or so, let alone the sort of ELE that would completely scour evidence of man off the planet. We've left some things -- nuclear waste, crap on the moon, human-based global warming, large-scale engineering project like Mt Rushmore and some pit mines -- that will take tens of thousands of years to erase. There's no serious danger of us not being noticed in the larger historical record whatever happens to the planet.

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#4    Frank Merton

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 05:13 AM

One of the things that sometimes "gets" me is when the press refers to a culture that built things as a "lost civilization."


#5    Likely Guy

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 05:30 AM

View PostFrank Merton, on 16 November 2013 - 05:13 AM, said:

One of the things that sometimes "gets" me is when the press refers to a culture that built things as a "lost civilization."

They were only 'lost' because we don't know enough about them yet. I agree. Maybe 'lost to the cultural memory'?


#6    kmt_sesh

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 05:48 AM

View PostConsidered_Ignorance, on 16 November 2013 - 02:37 AM, said:

Considering the calamitous nature of the Earth's geography over time, could there have been even brief periods of extreme degradation and/or erosion that effectively wipe periods of history from the archaelogical record?

What if some enormously destructive event were to happen today, one that brought the end of civilisation, the destruction of the built environment, and began a period of instability that eroded or transformed the remaining evidence of modern man?

Could the overwhelming evidence of a mere one to five housand years even of history be so erased that subsequent stratiographic deposits would in the future indicate a mere continuation of prehistoric man with perhaps a few queer anomolies?

Just how reliable is the stratiographic record upon which our history is based? Our digging is limited to those few spots of intersting things or when convienient holes unearth something. could a thousand or more years of history be missing from those tiny specks of our stratiographic record which we have uncovered?

The short answer is, no. But I'm not usually given to short answers, much to chagrin of my fellow posters.

Of course stratigraphy can and has been disturbed: ancient or modern looters, the building of a village atop the ruins of an older one, natural environmental erosion, disasters like earthquakes, et cetera. But these are almost always site-specific disturbances or, at most, a given area within a wider territory. If we're talking about an actual civilization, even an earthquake could not wipe all traces off it off the earth.

Think of the Minoans. Their greatest center was on Crete but with settlements and cities all over the northern Aegean. In the late seventeenth century BCE a massive volcanic eruption wiped out one of their most important cities on ancient Thera (modern Santorini). The Mycenaeans took advantage of the weakened Minoans and began to take over their centers and cities all over the Aegean. By the Late Bronze Age the Minoans were entirely extinct and forgotten.

Until archaeology. Even as destructive as the Thera eruption was, archaeologists have spent years excavating the magnificent ruins of the city on that island. The palaces and settlements taken over by the Mycenaeans on Crete and other islands still rendered clear and abundant evidence of the Minoans—largely because of stratigraphy. Moreover, a powerful thalassocracy like the Minoans were bound to leave plentiful traces of their trade and material culture all over the Aegean, and they did. Simply speaking, a sophisticated and long-established civilization will leave traces of itself not only at its home sites but at the sites of all of the other people with whom they interacted in their sphere of influence.

Stratigraphy is one of the hallmarks and founding principles of archaeology. It is highly reliable. Also, in cases where disturbances to stratigraphy have occurred, a properly trained archaeologist will notice it more often than not.

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#7    questionmark

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 11:24 AM

It is not always that the strata are being shown as clear as on this picture:Posted Image

but even when folded by tectonic movement or earthquakes as badly as here:

Posted Image

we can still identify the strata and its corresponding epoch by its magnitude and consistency:

Posted Image

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#8    Considered_Ignorance

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 02:15 PM

I'm not dismissing stratiography, or other dating methods,  but I am curious to know if there is any possibility that a relatively short period of years could have been largley erased - either edoded or altered.
Yeah, I am curious about lost civilisation, I'll try to post a summary of ideas so you can understand what I want to know about the stratiographic record.
Man, that's going to be hard. Ready for the crazy?



#9    questionmark

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 02:59 PM

View PostConsidered_Ignorance, on 16 November 2013 - 02:15 PM, said:

I'm not dismissing stratiography, or other dating methods,  but I am curious to know if there is any possibility that a relatively short period of years could have been largley erased - either edoded or altered.
Yeah, I am curious about lost civilisation, I'll try to post a summary of ideas so you can understand what I want to know about the stratiographic record.
Man, that's going to be hard. Ready for the crazy?

Lets get some things straight:you will not be able to find every piece of a single strata that was there once, they have been washed away, blown away or drifted away. But a lot of it is still there. And based on that findings can be classified.

As for "lost civilizations", there we are talking much smaller strata given the definition of civilization that would extend to the last 5000-16000 years as no older culture fits this definition. Most of that cannot be determined by geological strata but by historical record, soil strata and other dating methods.

Now, "lost civilizations" are a buzzword, there is no such a thing, there might be unknown civilizations or cultures, but they are not "lost".

Edited by questionmark, 16 November 2013 - 03:23 PM.

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#10    Frank Merton

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 03:04 PM

I would love it if someday were found a piece of unmistakably advanced technology in rocks that belong with dinosaurs.  That would be the sort of thing to get paleontology well funded, but it ain't going to happen. We find dinosaurs in the strata they belong in (down to the family level), and so on for all the history of life.


#11    Considered_Ignorance

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 03:36 PM

View Postquestionmar., on 16 November 2013 - 02:59 PM, said:

Lets get some things straight:you will not be able to find every piece of a single strata that was there once, they have been washed away, blown away or drifted away. But a lot of it is still there. And based on that findings can be classified.

As for "lost civilizations", there we are talking much smaller strata given the definition of civilization that would extend to the last 5000-16000 years as no older culture that fits this definition. Most of that cannot be determined by geological strata but by historical record, soil strata and other dating methods.

Now, "lost civilizations" are a buzzword, there is no such a thing, there might be unknown civilizations or cultures, but they are not "lost".

Yes, the geological sratiographic record is weathered, part of why geologists love it. And yes, it isn't very useful in dating artifacts of the very small and recent periods.

Archaelogically, strata I isnt so much what I mean, there wouldn't be any layering of artifacts to indicate the sort of lost civilisation I mean
But thats the point, a few  hundred years of strata a few thousand years ago might well be missing, maybe washed

Ill postmy crazy, then I think youll agree I am really talking about a lost civilisation rsther than simply anunknown one


#12    Considered_Ignorance

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 03:59 PM

Ok, here comes the crazy. I am looking for concrete reasons that this isn't possible (much easier than proof it is) but I am also aware of many rational options which, while attractive and well substantiated ideas, dont disprove the hypothesis. For example, when I point to the great flood myth existing everywhere please dont just chide me with the idea of lots of smaller floods being behind the popularity of the world flood myth. That is a reasonable and sound conclusion, but still doesn't discount the crazy. Lets find something more substantial eh?
Here's a scenario to consider:
A long long time ago, there is civilised population here on Earth. I like the idea that it has arrived from another planet (less requirement for archaelogical evidence), but feel free to put in your own favourite mythological civilisation here if you like. A catastrophy occurs, in my scenario it also involves the breaking of contact with other worlds, and the inability to return there (think shipwrecked aliens pushed way off the main shipping routes), but perhaps you could assume global warming or a meteor strike if it feels more sane. Me, I think the more insane the better :)
Anyway, catastrophe causes massive sea level rise, (NOTE if all the ice melted, I've heard 160 metre sea level rise, but perhaps there is reason to go higher, isostatic readjustment perhaps? Maybe a much higher presence of h20 at that time?) Leaving only the higher mountainous regions of the planet exposed.
So most of the world is underwater after possibly being trashed in another way like earthquakes, vocanoes, nuclear war, extreme weather etc. Even worse, stuff that isn't nailed down really, really well gets washed into the deeper 'oceans' (using quotes cause most of the world now is ocean). So nobody is going to find much evidence of that civilisation in the stratiographic record as it will corrode, dissolve, be really well buried or broken. (Thats where the stratiographic questions come into play, what would be left, where, how would it look now, would we find it and what evidence, such as a few hunred years worth of strata missing, might exist that such calamity might have occurred)More crazy though:
Civilization now only survives in tiny pockets. Extreme weather now that the globe is mostly flat water means people can only survive in sheltered areas of highest mountains (himilayas, andes, alps, and I feel like there should be somewhere in Africa, but dont know where). These small populations have to survive in an extreme world, without former technology, resources or expert knowledge. Survive they do, and as the water recedes they spread out again, taking a new culture that formed over many years (generations even) in the hills. Their new cultures have little in common with that of before the flood, but what they do retain is shared with similarly developing cultures around the world.So what we end up with is these civilisations spreading, changing, developing and eventually linking up. The fossil record is confused and appears to be missing the development of the species. Archaeology (of the developing cultures post flood) throws up some out of place artifacts, most of which get explained with difficulty or dismissed as symbolic/ceremonial oddities. Anthropology struggles with some unexplainable similarities between seemingly disparate cultures, supposing congruent evolution of ideas or some form of early contact.
Interestingly, many species of flora and fauna, especially those important to humans, are traced back to the very areas surrounding those places of the planet that populations would be forced to flee to in a great flood.

Archaeology is struggling with developing theories about the migration of humans throughout the globe, but how reliable and thorough is the investigation considering the difference in accessability between say the fertile crescent or the west Australian sheild compared with the jungles of north india or south America? More easily answered perhaps is what is the liklihood of the physical evidence of such a pre-calamity civilisation of from 100's to prrhaps 1000's of years long being missing from the stratiographic record of around 10-20 thousand years ago?


#13    cladking

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 09:47 PM

View PostConsidered_Ignorance, on 16 November 2013 - 02:37 AM, said:

Considering the calamitous nature of the Earth's geography over time, could there have been even brief periods of extreme degradation and/or erosion that effectively wipe periods of history from the archaelogical record?

What if some enormously destructive event were to happen today, one that brought the end of civilisation, the destruction of the built environment, and began a period of instability that eroded or transformed the remaining evidence of modern man?

Could the overwhelming evidence of a mere one to five housand years even of history be so erased that subsequent stratiographic deposits would in the future indicate a mere continuation of prehistoric man with perhaps a few queer anomolies?



No to all questions.  More precisely, it is very highly unlikely anything could have occurred to
hide or mask the record that wouldn't itself leave a signature.

Quote

Just how reliable is the stratiographic record upon which our history is based? Our digging is limited to those few spots of intersting things or when convienient holes unearth something. could a thousand or more years of history be missing from those tiny specks of our stratiographic record which we have uncovered?

There's nothing seriously wrong with the record itself execpt that it leaves us a slightly
distorted picture and we read far more into it than what actually is evidenced.  The distortion
is caused by nature's tendency to destroy some evidence preferentially to other evidence.
This leads to a lot of natural sample error and our proclivity to pull things out of tombs which
protect evidence leads to man-made sample error.

The major problem is everyone wants to play a TV detective or a TV phychic who can deduce
everything about a culture or a person from nothing but a pot shard or a personal item like a
comb. All you can be sure of is they mustta had pots and hair and it's illegitimate to make deduc-
tions about their beliefs and their economy from so little information.

After a few thousand years very little information and data survives. The farther back you go the
more tentative conclusions become.

Men fear the pyramid, time fears man.

#14    Gingitsune

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 11:21 PM

Quote

I feel like there should be somewhere in Africa, but dont know where

You have plenty to chose from, the Atlas mountains in Morocco and Algeria, the Ngorongoro Highlands in Tanzania, the Tibesti Mountains in Chad, Hoggar Mountains in Algeria, the Aïr Mountains in Niger.

More on topic, the mother of all flood wouldn't wipe all trace of a civilisation. It will just mess things a bit, but the bulding and artifact will mostly stay around. See the 2011 Tsunami in Japan or the Typhoon recently in Philippines. It would make a brand new stratum thought, making it easy to associate these messed buildings to a same catastrophe. On the other hand, the sea level rised by over 100 meters since the last iceage maximum, there might be something hiding under the sea floor.

The only way water can plow the land into the ocean is with a growing ice sheet. The homo sapiens sapiens are said to have existed for about 200 000 years, Between -300,000 and -120,000, it's the Riss glaciation; between -100,000 and -18,000, it's the Würm glaciation. There's a 20,000 years gap between the two glaciations when humains could have build somthing which could have been plow into the ocean later. But there is no hint humains where more than hunters-gatherers back then. Agriculture started around -10,000 in the Middle East, far away for the Eurasian ice sheet.

Another thing which could have erase a civilisation is a volcano. Just like pompei was freezed into volcanic cinders, some unknown city may be hiden around a volcano somewhere, if not thoroughly melted by lava.

There's also the possibility that some civilisation passed under our radar and is still to this day unknown. Probably somewhere in Africa or Brazil where we have little historic knownledge.


#15    stereologist

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 06:10 PM

There are places where a large flood could wipe out local information. There are no such global events that are kjnown. One of the ways to look for things is to examine cores from water areas. Varves in lake show the periodic precipitation of material over the year. Fine material falls when the lake is frozen and coarser material in summer when the water is not as still. The finer material remains suspended. There are varves that go back over 20,000 years showing that the area where the lake is located has not changed drastically in all of those years.





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