This article is the fourth installment in a series describing events that occurred in the four millennia leading up the beginning of recorded history when cuneiform writing first appeared in Sumer about 5000 years ago. As our knowledge of prehistory evolves we are realizing that there is far more to the story than has been recognized by previous generations of scholars. An extraordinary new picture of early humankind is emerging from ongoing discoveries into our own past and it is shaping up to be as dramatic, compelling and profound as any contrivance of imaginative fiction. Throughout this series of articles, going back to March of 2013, I have been exploring the interface between certain archaic traditions and ongoing discoveries of modern science that are confirming the acumen and veracity of ancient knowledge.
An extraordinary new picture of early humankind is emerging from ongoing discoveries into our own past and it is shaping up to be as dramatic, compelling and profound as any contrivance of imaginative fiction.
To summarize the important points established thus far: The great ice age came to an end between about 10 and 14 thousand years ago. The passage out of the glacial age and into our modern interglacial age was characterized by extraordinary changes. These changes manifested in the form of extreme upheavals that radically reorganized the entire global balance of nature, causing a mass of glacial ice with a volume even greater than both modern day Greenland and Antarctic ice caps put together, to rapidly and catastrophically melt away. These changes manifested in the form of extreme upheavals that radically reorganized the entire global balance of nature, causing a mass of glacial ice with a volume even greater than both modern day Greenland and Antarctic ice caps put together, to rapidly and catastrophically melt away.
In this process millions of square miles of land were drowned by rapidly rising sea levels, while simultaneously millions of square miles were freed from the icy tomb in which they had been encased for thousands of years. And when the environmental and climatic gyrations finally settled down around 9000 years ago half the great megafauna species of the world were gone. Gone also was the mysterious Clovis culture that had shown prolifically but briefly on the world stage in North America, South America and probably Europe as well. I discussed this culture in Part 3 last month. I also discussed evidence that human population suffered a major decline and disruption concurrent with an extremely rapid and severe climate shift known as the Bolling Allerod – Younger Dryas transition, which occurred right about 12,900 years ago.
For now I will say this—it is appearing almost certain that what we are seeing in these exotic materials are the fingerprints of a cosmic event.
This boundary as it shows up in geological record is frequently marked by a conspicuous black layer, usually referred to as the “black mat.” This layer, typically three to eight inches thick, is black because it contains abundant carbon. Several things are significant about this carbon rich black mat layer. The first and most obvious is the presence of abundant carbon in the form of soot. Second is the fact that artifacts of the Clovis culture are found immediately beneath it but never above it. Third is the fact that fossil remains of many of the great extinct megafauna also are found below it but seldom above it. In other words it appears that the extinction of the Clovis culture and the mass mortality of the extinct animals was concurrent and that it was immediately followed by deposition of the carbon rich layer. One other thing that is very curious about this layer is that a narrow band at its base contains a variety of remarkable materials such as hexagonal nanodiamonds, magnetic grains, microspherules and platinum group metals. This layer clearly marks a global event of considerable magnitude and a deeper discussion of ongoing research on the black mat is warranted but I will save that for a future article. For now I will say this—it is appearing almost certain that what we are seeing in these exotic materials are the fingerprints of a cosmic event. But the focus of this article is on the world that rose out of the wreckage of the former one, a time Archaeologists call the Neolithic, or New Stone-age, spanning from roughly from six to ten thousand years ago, sometimes now called the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age.
For now I will say this—it is appearing almost certain that what we are seeing in these exotic materials are the fingerprints of a cosmic event.
In the last two articles I have referenced the work of David G. Anderson and colleagues that led them to the conclusion that there was a precipitous decline in human population immediately after the onset of the Younger Dryas, close to 12,900 years ago. What Anderson and colleagues did was to exhaustively document the evidence for tools and artifacts used by people before and after this date, including the Clovis. In examining the evidence for the reestablishment of human culture in the wake of these catastrophic global changes Anderson and coauthor of one report, Michael K. Faught, found a strikingly uneven distribution of artifacts in eastern North America. In a summary of their work published in 1998 they wrote:
“. . . since fluted points are distributed unevenly, with pronounced concentrations in some areas and voids in others, this suggests that human populations in the Late Pleistocene were themselves unevenly distributed over the landscape. It further suggests that these peoples were tied to given areas, albeit loosely, possibly due to resource availability. That is, group ranges, while extensive, were nonetheless centered in certain areas and around certain parts of the landscape.”
(David G. Anderson and Michael K. Faught, 1998, THE DISTRIBUTION OF FLUTED PALEOINDIAN PROJECTILE POINTS: UPDATE 1998: Archaeology of Eastern North America, vol. 26, pp. 163 – 187)
In spite of the non-emotive language employed by these scholars the implications of their research are clear. In the aftermath of the terminal ice age catastrophe survivors were concentrated in small isolated groups. Given their wide range of dispersal it is entirely probable that most of these bands of survivors had no contact with or knowledge of other survivors. Since vast areas around the planet had been expunged of most life it was necessary for survivors to remain in those places where it was still possible to hunt, fish, gather food and provide shelter.
As nature recovered life would quite rapidly reoccupy the decimated terrain and human population could follow. This is entirely consistent with what we now know about the recovery of natural systems in the wake of widespread habitat destruction. Paleontologists have coined the term refugia to describe places where through a confluence of auspicious circumstances some species are fortunate enough to survive. It is these species which then spread out into the vacated niches, repopulating terrain that had been depopulated as a consequence of catastrophic environmental events. We have witnessed this process on several scales, for example in the aftermath of a major volcanic eruption, a tsunami or an extreme forest fire. Eventually the empty environments are recolonized by pioneer species and a process of ecological succession can proceed.
What occurs in nature has its parallel in the human domain. After a time, assuming a degree of relative environmental stability, the survivors begin to multiply, and as they do they expand into uninhabited territory. Sooner or later, after a number of generations and subsequent social expansion, contacts are made with other groups. As resource extraction and utilization improves, trade networks can be established and civilization is on its way to being reincarnated. At this early stage of cultural development there is no need for resource competition as resource recovery in a post-catastrophe landscape proceeds rapidly, fast enough to stay ahead of a growing human population. Especially is this so in light of the realization discussed in my last two articles that for thousands of years after the end of the ice age large areas of the planet basked in a warm and generally stable climate. This era has been called by scientists the Climatic Optimum and it was actually warmer than the present. I presented a sampling of the abundant evidence confirming this supposition.
It was this period between the fall of the former world age and the beginnings of recorded history that became the focus of the life’s work of Lithuanian born Marija Gimbutas, (1921-1994) formerly professor emerita of European Archaeology at UCLA. Her interests in prehistory were vast and she authored over 20 books and 200 articles on mythology, European prehistory, and the cultural origins of the Indo-Europeans. Two books authored by her are especially important in illuminating the kind of human society that evolved in the aftermath of the great catastrophe. They are The Language of the Goddess (1989) and The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe (1991). In the preface to Civilization of the Goddess Gimbutas wrote
“Substantial evidence for a rapidly growing Neolithic culture that began in the middle of the 7th millennium B.C. (9000 yr ago) exists in the Aegean area, the Balkans, and in east central Europe.”
This is in perfect accord with the model of post-catastrophe population growth and recovery I have described. Once global climate warmed up from the Younger Dryas deep freeze and stabilized between 9 and 10 thousand years ago, population could begin to recuperate. And, fortuitously, the climate at this time became especially favorable for the advent of a luxuriant biosphere in many regions of the planet, one in which a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and small scale agriculture were well suited. Gimbutas describes areas in the Near East and Europe into which descendants of the survivors settled in the post catastrophe millennia:
“A veritable land of milk and honey greeted the agriculturalists who settled in central Bulgaria, probably not later than 6300 B.C.” and “
The Thessalian and Macedonian plains are Greece’s richest agricultural lands. In modern times as well as for thousands of years these plains have served as the bread baskets of Greece . . . This area is within the Mediterranean climatic zone with dry hot summers and cold wet winters. Eighty-five hundred years ago the climate was moister, with lush vegetation; the river valleys were covered with oak and pistachio groves.”
Because of this benign and advantageous environment vegetation, small game, freshwater fish and shallow marine habitats all increased prolifically. Humankind, in many regions of the world, were embraced in a sort of Edenic state. It is probable that stories of a garden like environment lying at the core of the Biblical account of Genesis, as well as in other traditions, had their roots in memories of these three or four millennia of quasi-paradise.
The consequence of favorable climate, abundant resources for which there was minimal competition, and a widely dispersed human population, was that
“The civilization that flourished in Old Europe between 6500 and 3500 B.C.. . . enjoyed a long period of uninterrupted peaceful living which produced artistic expressions of graceful beauty and refinement, demonstrating a higher quality of life than many androcratic classed societies.”
Androcratic societies refers to male dominated societies that appeared after the reign of the Goddess came to an end around 3500 B.C. After this date societies tended to become patriarchal, with the dominant gods being male. There are several reasons why this transition became inevitable and I will return to this important idea in an upcoming article, for it is central to understanding the present human and social condition. In a world of 7 billion people there might just be some important lessons to be learned from those ancestors of ours so long ago. The most profound insight, in my opinion, that emerged from the decades of Gimbutas’ research was the realization that human conflict was conspicuously absent from the Age of the Goddess. She writes:
“It is a gross misunderstanding to imagine warfare as endemic to the human condition. Widespread fighting and fortification building have indeed been the way of life for most of our direct ancestors from the Bronze Age up until now. However, this was not the case in the Paleolithic and Neolithic. There are no depictions of arms (weapons used against other humans) in Paleolithic cave paintings, nor are there remains of weapons used by man against man during the Neolithic. From some hundred and fifty paintings that survived at Catal Hűyűk (one of the earliest Neolithic cities in Turkey), there is not one depicting a scene of conflict or fighting, or of war or torture.”
And Europe, like the Near East, showed little or no evidence of conflict.
“Old European village sites are not remarkable for their defensive positions but were chosen for their convenient setting, good water and soil, and availability of animal pastures. Hill forts in inaccessible locations are not known to Old Europe, nor are daggers, spears, and halberds . . . Earth ramparts and other defensive structures occur only in later Neolithic and Copper Age settlements when measures were taken to protect villages from an influx of human intruders. These changes became visible in central Europe only toward the end of the 5th and during the 4th millennium B.C.” (Civilization of the Goddess, p. viii – x)
I would argue that we have overwhelmingly important lessons to learn from this world without war that preceded the dawn of recorded history. In the next installment I will continue this investigation into the Age of the Goddess and inquire into what forces were responsible for its demise and the introduction of human conflict onto the world stage.
– Randall Carlson
Read part 5 here
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