"Anything More Would be Uncivilized"
In Response To: What We Learned in 1159 BC ()

I'm reading an interesting (but not so new) book called "The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age" (1999).

The author, Richard Rudgley is self-described as "an Oxford-trained scholar of Stone Age art, religion and technology". I suppose he could not call himself a historian of the Stone Age because the Stone Age is considered to be pre-historical! Nevertheless, Rudgley presents a multi-faceted thesis (including language, writing, mathematics, medicine, use of fire, food production/processing, mining, time keeping, painting/carving, etc.) for overturning that particular academic convention. According to Rudgley the corpus of evidence from around the world indicates that written communication has been used by mankind from at least the last Ice Age. Rudgley notes that millions of written signs have been found from the Stone Age and exhibit "far-flung similarities across time and space - from the Ice Age to historical times and from Spain to China." (p 79)

"In the case of writing, we find that rather than being a unique innovation of Sumerian culture 5,000 years ago, it is an element of culture that grew out of prehistoric roots in various parts of the world. In the case of Sumeria and adjacent areas of the Near East, it has been shown that the cuneiform writing system was built on an earlier token system which has so far been traced back 10,000 years. Hieroglyphs used in the writings of Dynastic Egypt are now known to have been used in the prehistoric period on pottery and other artifacts, a thousand years before history began ... There is also now a case for the independent existence of a written script of some kind in Old Europe, perhaps as early as 8,000 years ago." (p 261)

Rudgley explains that the un-deciphered script called Linear A is a successor of the earlier "Old Europe" writing/pictograms and with about 50% of its symbols borrowed directly from it. Rudgley quotes from "The Civilization of the Goddess" by Marija Gimbutas, "Old Europeans had towns with a considerable concentration of population, temples several stories high, a sacred script, spacious houses of four or five rooms, professional ceramicists, weavers, copper and gold metallurgists, and other artisans producing a range of sophisticated goods. A flourishing network of trade routes existed that circulated items such as obsidian, shells, marble, copper, and salt over hundreds of kilometers." (p 17)

One of the sources of obsidian was a then active volcano in Asia Minor, and the city of Catal Huyuk that came into existence by 6,000 BC to exploit it. Rudgley writes, It is a remarkable fact that the larges town known from the Stone Age should have belonged to the earlier part of the Neolithic rather than towards its end the quality of the pottery, tools, personal adornments, fabrics and various other types of artifacts (including the worlds earliest mirrors, made from polished obsidian) from the site shows the high levels of craftsmanship which are indicative of craft specialization wall painting has a geometric pattern incorporating floral motifs and painted in light buff, white, grey, black and orange red The complex religious iconography of the site is revealed in the wall paintings, sculptures, statuettes and other remains from this early Neolithic town elements of the goddess mythology were celebrated at Catal Huyuk by depictions of her in association with wild beasts, most strikingly with the most dangerous predator of the region the leopard. A clay statuette found in a shrine at the site portrays the enthroned goddess resting her hands on two leopards; she is giving birth, perhaps, as Mellaart [the initial excavator of the site] suggests, to a male child The excavated shrines show the goddess giving birth to rams and bulls, of actual vulture beaks protruding from moulded parts of breasts, of bulls horns and human skulls. (pp 20, 22)

Since the publication of Rudgleys book ten years ago, the Gbekli Tepe site has exploded onto the archaeological scene. It is even more ancient (circa 9,000 BC) than Catal Huyuk and contains staggering monumental stone construction.

Throwing a bone to academics, Rudgley discounts the "near-universal theme in the mythologies of the world" regarding a former Golden Age, as well as alien astronaut theories, and a lost civilization of Atlantis, Lemuria, or Mu. Unlike the academics, Rudgley does not disparage Graham Hancock and other alternative archaeology researchers, but he nonetheless dismisses their theories as equally unsatisfying (as the explanation from academia). Rudgley's solution is to emphasize local knowledge and local culture that was capable of trading with outside populations but had arisen autonomously. Pre-dynastic Egypt is used as a case study.

Ultimately, Rugdley's theory is also unsatisfying and self-contradictory. The evidence does increasingly support the existence of a world-wide "dynastic race" (for lack of a better term). Gobekli Tepe was deliberately buried and abandoned. This exposes a tradition deriving from one or more earlier buried civilizations. It is only a matter of time before an advanced Ice Age cultural center is discovered. And quite possibly many such sites have already been discovered [such as Baalbek?], but are simply not given credit for their true antiquity.

The literate and goddess-worshipping family of Narmer which re-conquered Egypt after a flood event was obviously also highly militant, and a clear continuation of the super-dynasty that preceded the catastrophe of that time. Their empire was not limited only to Egypt but encompassed the entire Near East (if not the entire planet). The evidence indicates that this very same dynasty reached back into the last Ice Age. It was perhaps only a skeleton of its former self after so many recurring and devastating natural disasters of the Holocene, but it had at least survived into the Pharaonic Age. The sense of loss was profound even among the kings and pharaohs of the New Age. The gods of old could not be equaled. It was only possible to stage a cheap imitation. In the Old Testament the Patriarchs are subtly yet quite deliberately identified with Hittites and brutal Hethites, and in a completely anachronistic fashion that formerly did not appear to be flattering. We can now perceive this as a claimed inheritance from the superior Stone Age civilization of Asia Minor and its rulers (as well as whatever came before it).

The prominence of Goddess worship among "pre-historic" culture centers does not mean these cultures were not also Patriarchal. Goddess worship remained a conspicuous element throughout the Patriarchal/historical period. As we have seen, a closed Patriarchal ruling elite afforded godlike power to the leading Queen, especially in her "miraculous" capacity to produce heirs for the highly inbred dynasty. The leopard/lion motif at Catal Huyuk is also found in dynastic Egypt and likewise associated with the production of a royal successor. It is further echoed in the Bibles symbolic pairing of Judah with the lion and with (kingly) birthright.

A major weakness of Rudgleys book is a lack of awareness of Catastrophism during the Stone Age. However, in his defense, this is an area of research that has also only come to the forefront in recent years. More recent titles are beginning to address this critical factor.

Another new field of ancient research is DNA Studies.

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