Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 1
Siara

Civilization before the Last Ice Age

60 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Last night I attended a seminar on Ice Ages (a "science for the masses" social event in my community). It discussed the various astronomical cycles which generate Ice Ages, the effects of the weight of the ice on various land masses, etc. For this thread the pertinent facts are that the last Ice Age ended about 10,000-8,000 years ago and we are currently in a warmer period which will last thousands of more years. There have been similar warm inter-glacial periods like this before.

Reading archeology articles over the past couple years I've learned that "civilization" in South America started independently from "civilization" in Mesopotamia and at about the same time. By civilization I mean that the concepts of agriculture and farming, permanent settlements with buildings and that sort of thing.

My thoughts:

How remarkable that civilization should start simultaneously in two separate places! To me it suggests that there's something within the human psyche that generates a structured society if you have decent weather for 100 generations. If, for example, we had an Ice Age tomorrow and civilization somehow broke down and disappeared, it would inevitably come back after 100 non-ice generations because that's what our species does. It's natural in the same way that a bird's building a nest is natural. Since humans can learn from the previous generation we can have generational nesting instincts that extend over time.

Another example of what I'm trying to say would be, if you took a few feral children (basically hunter-gatherers) and put them together on an earth-like planet, there would inevitably be a civilization on that planet 100 generations later.

This theory (that creating civilizations is natural for us) seems logical in light of the data. I mean... agriculture starting in two totally unrelated places at once? How can that be coincidence? But one huge problem with the theory is that there have been other extended inter-glacial periods between previous ice ages since the evolution of homo sapiens and from what I know there is no evidence that civilization evolved during those 100 generation warm phases?

So getting down to my questions:

Is there any archeological evidence that civilizations evolved between previous ice ages and was later obliterated by ice?

Could human artifacts survive an Ice Age?

If civilization didn't evolve before, why did it evolve simultaneously in two different places this time around?

.

Edited by Siara

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I have no answer to your first question.

Could human artifacts survive an Ice Age?

We have artifacts made before 10,000 years ago.

http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/lascaux/en/

(requires javascript for proper display)

The ice sheets don't cover the whole of the earth anyway.

If civilization didn't evolve before, why did it evolve simultaneously in two different places this time around?

Modern people are everywhere opportunistic. Possibilities of settled life with a reliable agricultural surplus arose simultaneously around the world. Why wouldn't the possibilities be exploited simultaneously?

Edited by eight bits

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Modern people are everywhere opportunistic. Possibilities of settled life with a reliable agricultural surplus arose simultaneously around the world. Why wouldn't the possibilities be exploited simultaneously?

Because it didn't happen during the last inter-glacial period when, presumably, there was also an agricultural surplus. If groups of homo sapiens totally separated by space did the same thing, why didn't groups of humans separated by time do the same thing?

If the conditions were the same and the species was the same, separation in time shouldn't be any different than separation in space. In both cases, an isolated group is presented with the same conditions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If the conditions were the same and the species was the same, separation in time shouldn't be any different than separation in space. In both cases, an isolated group is presented with the same conditions.

Has our species been through more than one ice age?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My apologies, Siara, I didn't appreciate that you were asking two questions in the third item in your list.

Just as well, though, since I haven't much answer to give you about separation in time, as opposed to space.

I simply don't know whether the last interglacial period presented literally the same opportunities amd costs of exploiting them as recently, nor what people were like back then, nor even how many people there were, where they lived, and so on.

Has our species been through more than one ice age?

From Professor Nelson at Tulane, all about glaciation:

http://www.tulane.edu/~sanelson/geol111/glaciers.htm

If the last several glacial-interglacial cycles had periods of about 100,000 years, and we've been around for a few to many hundred thousand years, then we have been through plural glacial times. What proportion of us lived anywhere near big ice, I simply don't know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If civilization didn't evolve before, why did it evolve simultaneously in two different places this time around?

Ahhh, but it didn't just evolve once or twice, it evolved several times over, in Sumeria, in Egypt, in the Indus Valley, in China, and in Caral. In each area, there was a confluence of events no one culture had all (like the rise of agriculture, the evolution of writing, advanced trade activity, development of warring sub-cultures) that lead to the development of urban areas and of full-scale civilisation.

The presence of this happening so many times in different places leads most people who study the rise of civilisation to agree with you and think that's it's a product of human nature. That said, there's not a lick of evidence /anywhere/ that suggests a pre-Ice Age civilisation.

--Jaylemurph

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Depends on what one considers civilization.

The last ice age ended some 12,oo years ago (depending on several variables) and had lasted for some 100,000 years prior to the end. There were several "interstadials" or periods of time when the ice retreated but these did not last long, only a few thousand years.

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Archaeology-654...rbon-dating.htm

Expert Profile: Ralph Salier

Expertise: Archaeologist for the last 30 years. Norh American generalist and Hopwell culture/Red Ocher culture specifically. Lithics Expert and Ground Stone tools.

160,000-year-old fossilized skulls uncovered in Ethiopia are oldest anatomically modern humans.

"These well-dated and anatomically diagnostic Herto fossils are unmistakably non-neanderthal," said Howell, a co-author of the Homo erectus paper that details the hominids and an expert on early modern humans. "These fossils show that near-humans had evolved in Africa long before the European neanderthals disappeared. They thereby demonstrate conclusively that there was never a neanderthal stage in human evolution."

http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/20...11_idaltu.shtml

160,000 years ago, predates the last ice age, and ice didn't cover the whole of the earth.

Edited by Qoais

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
http://en.allexperts.com/q/Archaeology-654...rbon-dating.htm

Expert Profile: Ralph Salier

Expertise: Archaeologist for the last 30 years. Norh American generalist and Hopwell culture/Red Ocher culture specifically. Lithics Expert and Ground Stone tools.

160,000-year-old fossilized skulls uncovered in Ethiopia are oldest anatomically modern humans.

"These well-dated and anatomically diagnostic Herto fossils are unmistakably non-neanderthal," said Howell, a co-author of the Homo erectus paper that details the hominids and an expert on early modern humans. "These fossils show that near-humans had evolved in Africa long before the European neanderthals disappeared. They thereby demonstrate conclusively that there was never a neanderthal stage in human evolution."

http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/20...11_idaltu.shtml

When this Qoais speaks, many should listen.

Cheers,

Orion

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
http://en.allexperts.com/q/Archaeology-654...rbon-dating.htm

Expert Profile: Ralph Salier

Expertise: Archaeologist for the last 30 years. Norh American generalist and Hopwell culture/Red Ocher culture specifically. Lithics Expert and Ground Stone tools.

160,000-year-old fossilized skulls uncovered in Ethiopia are oldest anatomically modern humans.

"These well-dated and anatomically diagnostic Herto fossils are unmistakably non-neanderthal," said Howell, a co-author of the Homo erectus paper that details the hominids and an expert on early modern humans. "These fossils show that near-humans had evolved in Africa long before the European neanderthals disappeared. They thereby demonstrate conclusively that there was never a neanderthal stage in human evolution."

http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/20...11_idaltu.shtml

So, uh, how does a skull prove a civilisation?

--Jaylemurph

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So, uh, how does a skull prove a civilisation?

--Jaylemurph

Michael Cremo has that same thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

As I said, it depends on what one calls civilization.

Neanderthals had a "civilization" in that they stayed together as a group, hunted for food, made clothes for themselves, etc.

http://cas.bellarmine.edu/tietjen/Human%20...about_neand.htm

My own idea of "civilizaton" is that wherever there are people, this is civilization no matter how advanced (or not) the people may be.

Edited by Qoais

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My own idea of "civilizaton" is that wherever there are people, this is civilization no matter how advanced (or not) the people may be.

I tend to agree with you, and think most people mean "culture" when they mean "civilisation". Certainly, within the context of this thread, I think "culture" is a more appropriate term. (I even think there are the rudiments of culture in Neanderthal artifacts, but not enough left (or found) to indicate a full-blown culture. Though I wouldn't confuse my opinion for actual anthropological statements.)

--Jaylemurph

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Has our species been through more than one ice age?

Yes. Homo sapiens, as such, have been around since the Riss Glacial Period, Omo 1 and Omo 2 as well as Herto (Homo sapiens idaltu), through the Riss-Wurm interglacial - Homo sapiens sapiens (us), then through the last (Wurm glacial) ice age.

cormac

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Television was invented by two separate people in separate place at pretty much the same time. But nobody tries to say that there is a predisposition for that...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I agree, that most people interchange the words culture and civilization.

In a dictionary, we'd find that civilization means the point at which people farm and build citites. However, the interpreation of "city" could be questioned also.

The city, as one finds it in history, is the point of maximum concentration for the power and culture of a community. It is the place where the diffused rays of many separate beams of life fall into focus, with gains in both social effectiveness and significance. The city is the form and symbol of an integrated social relationship

Altho the native American Indians lived in Tee-Pees, they all gathered in one location and had an integrated social relationship. This would be a city.

Altho they didn't (at first) plant crops, they did harvest the bounty of the earth.

Oh - there was more than one skull found.

Edited by Qoais

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Television was invented by two separate people in separate place at pretty much the same time. But nobody tries to say that there is a predisposition for that

The predisposition for that was the discovery and development of electricity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Television was invented by two separate people in separate place at pretty much the same time. But nobody tries to say that there is a predisposition for that...

Yes but things like that generally happen because the required science has evolved to a point where the new invention is the obvious next step. This was true of the A-bomb. Germany and Japan were working on it at the same time we were.

In England it looks like the last two interglacial periods were the Flanderian (12,000 years ago - now) and the Ipswichian (130,000 years ago - 110,000 years ago). These periods were interspersed with the Devensian glaciation (110,000 - 12,000 years ago) and the Wolstonian, which ended 130,000 years ago with the onset of the Ipswichian inter-glacial.

So after the Wolstonian glaciation there was a 20,000 year stretch when things were like today. But there's no sign of civilization (or culture, or whatever) anywhere during this time. The Devensian glaciation ended 12,000 years ago. Four thousand years later culture started in a number of unrelated locations.

If culture started 4,000 years after the end of the Devensian glaciation (in a number of places so it seems like more than coincidence), why didn't it also start 4,000 years after the end of the Wolstonian glaciation? We were the same species at both points. Why didn't we act the same?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Congratulations Siara, I think that's the best question I've seen posed for a very looong time! :tu:

In some ancient writings, we see where people had "dreams" or "visions" that told them what to do. But where do dreams come from? (We won't go into the subject of the superconscious and the group conscious stuff - except to say that group conscious is supposedly the collective consciousness of what a group of people has done in the past - therefore if they didn't "farm" in the past, they would not have a sub-conscious recollection of it to call upon!)

So, are we back to "visitations" that prompted change in our behaviour?

Or perhaps it was beause the abundance of food didn't diminish enough to force the population into the "hording" mode. As in saving seed and planting it. Therefore, there was no NEED to "farm", before the next ice age set in.

Edited by Qoais

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Congratulations Siara, I think that's the best question I've seen posed for a very looong time! In some ancient writings, we see where people had "dreams" or "visions" that told them what to do.

Thanks.

Interesting isn't it? You would have expected something 12,000 years after the end of the Wolstonian given what we have now 12,000 years after the Devensian. Maybe there was some sort of civilization whose presence was totally wiped out by the Devensian. Or maybe something bizarre happened 8,000 years ago that didn't happen the first time around...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ideas are in the air and somehow people who are separated by vast distances can pick up on them simultaneously. Human consciousness might be contained in more than just our own selves. The same applies to evolution. The code for changes, to even evolve consciousness, because one does need a higher evolved consciousness to develop a civilization, so this code might be not only within us, our DNA for example, but also outside of us. The code might be part of the world universe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Or perhaps it was beause the abundance of food didn't diminish enough to force the population into the "hording" mode. As in saving seed and planting it. Therefore, there was no NEED to "farm", before the next ice age set in.

The fact that agriculture started in a number of very different parts of the earth at the same time suggests that it couldn't have been too much related to climate or food supply because these things would have varied quite a bit from place to place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I think climate would play a big part, since folks like to live where it's warm and cozy. So, if everyone eventually congregates in the same place, the food supply would dwindle and another source of food would develop. It appears that farming more or less developed firstly in the warmer zones, where people gravitate to. Whether on one side of the ocean or the other. So basically, the problem was the same and from the same necessity, the same result occurred. Kind of like the TV. If the forerunning circumstances are the same, it's likely the proceeding development will be similar. When it comes to food, there weren't too many options.

There's only one instance recorded, where manna came from heaven!!

Edited by Qoais

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The fact that agriculture started in a number of very different parts of the earth at the same time suggests that it couldn't have been too much related to climate or food supply because these things would have varied quite a bit from place to place.

I'm not much of a farmer (I do have an elderly philodendron), but I'll stick my neck out and say (the rise of) agriculture depended a lot on climate -- you try growing beans in the snow! ;)

--Jaylemurph

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The fact that agriculture started in a number of very different parts of the earth at the same time suggests that it couldn't have been too much related to climate or food supply because these things would have varied quite a bit from place to place.

Climate is extremely important in farming as is the soil.

Here is the wiki page on the origins of farming: Neolithic revolution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In England it looks like the last two interglacial periods were the Flanderian (12,000 years ago - now) and the Ipswichian (130,000 years ago - 110,000 years ago). These periods were interspersed with the Devensian glaciation (110,000 - 12,000 years ago) and the Wolstonian, which ended 130,000 years ago with the onset of the Ipswichian inter-glacial.

So after the Wolstonian glaciation there was a 20,000 year stretch when things were like today. But there's no sign of civilization (or culture, or whatever) anywhere during this time. The Devensian glaciation ended 12,000 years ago. Four thousand years later culture started in a number of unrelated locations.

If culture started 4,000 years after the end of the Devensian glaciation (in a number of places so it seems like more than coincidence), why didn't it also start 4,000 years after the end of the Wolstonian glaciation? We were the same species at both points. Why didn't we act the same?

A few things come to mind in reference to your questions. Considering that anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, are believed to have come on the scene around the onset of the Ipswichian inter-glacial, we were just getting over the effects of the previous glacial period. Human population wouldn't have been very large. Some estimates, and I realize they are only estimates, are less than 500,000 modern humans total. The glacial period may have been over, but we still had to learn to survive in a warmer climate. We as a species had to learn to make our own clothing, forage or hunt for our own food, with no medicines disease would impact us greatly, our lifespan to start wouldn't have been very long and at times we would succumb to death from the megafauna either by accident or purposely, if attacked. We had to brave the weather - rain, flood, blizzard, tornado, earthquake, etc. And to top it off we had to compete with our sister line, the Neanderthals. I would say we had our hands full just continuing to exist.

As to your last question, by whose estimation of 4000 years after the Devensian are you saying culture started. A good starting point can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synoptic_tabl...storic_cultures. Doubtful it will answer all of your questions, but it should give you a fairly good idea of what we do know about the past. Also, 4000 years after the end of the Devensian would be 6000 BC. There are many settlements/habitations that existed long before that time. A good place to start would be here and again it won't be exhaustive, but it should give you some idea of what came before 6000 BC: List of archaeological sites sorted by country

cormac

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 1

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.