In a thread
he started in Ancient & Lost Civilizations this morning, one of our most
reliable and distinguished members made the following statement:
The find from Syria lends credence to the idea that man's adoption of agriculture and irrigation led to an increase of disease.
What was the find? A single parasite egg inside the remains of a 6,200-year-old cadaver at a burial site in Syria.
I regard Hanslune as an authority. I have no expertise in archaeology and although I do know a little (general) history, prehistory is not really my
department. So if Hans says the discovery is significant in that way, I am prepared to accept what he says.
But there remains a niggling doubt, and it's not about Hans, but about the reliability of statements about the past made by archaeologists and
historians. I'm not talking about specific, objective statements, such as 'this female figure is between X and X' years old' or 'This piece of
obsidian came from such-and-such a quarry in the Near East.' I'm talking about interpretative conclusions based on such statements, claims such as
'people used this female figure in fertility rituals' or 'there was a well-established trade route between Brittany and the Near East' that are
extrapolated from such finds. I don' t necessarily disbelieve such statements, but I often wonder if the evidence on which they are made is really
strong enough to support them.
I have lately had to do some historical research in connexion with a book I am writing. One of the things I'm doing in that book is trying to build up
a character-portrait of the first bishop appointed by the Anglican Church to the diocese of the city where I was born. I have quite a lot of material
on him, but at times I am forced to make guesses based on the best evidence I have. I do not mean to mislead my readers, so of course I present the
evidence on which I draw my conclusions to enable them to draw their own; but all the same, I'm often aware that I tread a fine line between fact and
conjecture, for there is no way anyone living now could possible know the truth. And the man I'm writing about only died in the 1870s!
I am not promoting any conspiracy theories.
I don't believe there has been any concerted effort on the part of authoritative scholars or the
'powers that be' to suppress the truths of history (although there have, obviously, been many individual cases, such as the way information about the
Armenian genocide was suppressed in Turkey). I don't believe scholars regularly fake or hide hard evidence (although, again, there have been
occasional cases, such as the Indonesian professor in charge of the Flores dig who apparently tried to keep the floresiensis
remains to himself
for a while). All I am asking is: how well can we really know the things we claim to know?
I have put up this thread in a spirit of genuine, humble and — I think — scholarly inquiry. I hope we can have a quiet, sensible discussion about
the subject, without flaring tempers and accusations of conspiracy and bad faith being hurled about.
ETA: could a kind staff member please edit out the useless BBcode tags in my thread title, please?
edit on 3/7/14 by Astyanax because: added request to staff.
edit on 7/3/2014 by bigfatfurrytexan because: Fix title