originally posted by: Astyanax
Historians and archaeologists don't deny that complex — even literate — cultures have arisen on what you call the 'black' (did you mean
'blank'?) parts of the map.
No, the maps are shaded in colored areas to signify civilizations and cultures occupying certain areas. For example, the map for 610 has Viking areas
shaded in blue, Celtic areas another shade, Rome another color, etc. All the areas where they don't know much about what was going on, are shaded
black. And for most of recorded history, up until after 1000 AD, most of the world is shaded black. India is one of the first areas to pop up in
their maps, even if they don't know much about the people who lived there at the time. I may scan one of these if I can get the book to fit inside
of my scanner. It's called "The Last Two Million Years" and it really is a nice book, with high quality photos of artifacts from all over the
world, and maps and things.
But unless there's some evidence of those cultures there's nothing they can say about them. They arose, endured for a span and died — but
no traces of them have been found. They are lost to us, at least for the present.
That's not completely true about them leaving no traces. Often we do have physical evidence of cultures and civilizations, but the evidence is so
little that we can't say much about the civilization, or even give it a name. For most of the areas that are black on the map in this book, we
fill them in a little more, we just wouldn't even know what names to give to the civilizations in the mystery areas, or how far their
influence extended, or maybe not even what time period they existed in. But we still have evidence for something being there of course, like ancient
structures or maybe inscriptions.
We can't say much even about the "Indus Valley Civilization" in India, but they still included it on these maps. Even though we haven't
deciphered their language, and don't know what they called themselves or much else, we still know much more about this culture than we do others,
Sometimes things in the Americas get dated back to 1000 BC or even earlier, and we have even less of an idea what kind of culture these things came
from. I don't mean the Olmecs (though we don't know much about them either really) but just other random artifacts and archaeological sites where
people lived and built things from stone for which remains are still apparent today. The same is true for sites in northern Europe, Africa, China and
in US states like Ohio and Illinois where there are many many ancient mounds that some unknown culture built at some unknown time. I don't mean the
Newark site (people at least have various theories for who built that) but there are probably literally of hundreds of others for which no one seems
to have any ideas.
In regards to the topic, "How much can we really know about the past?", I don't know how much we can
know, but how much we actually
know about all the ancient cultures that once existed on Earth is very far from complete considering all the unattributed structures and
undeciphered languages. It seems like when people think of the earliest civilizations they think of Egypt, and then later in the 1800's Sumer was
discovered and thought to be even older, but then we have the "Indus Valley Civilization" and others that don't even have names yet. I'm not
complaining, though. In a way it's exciting to have all of these new things to look at.
Anyway we still know a lot more today than we did 100 or especially 200 years ago, and that's always a good thing.