posted on Dec, 29 2004 @ 09:45 AM
Of course, as always, I leave myself open to the possibility that I am wrong...
I have no problems believing that other civilizations existed before Ur and Erdu (the first known civilized cities, starting between 8,000 - 5,000
BC). As was mentioned, mankind has been around for about 6-7 million years.
However, I find it very highly improbable that we were ever at a state where we could have had a nuclear or space-age technology.
6-7mil years BCE - Sahelanthropus tchadensis is the oldest known species of human found, and is as apelike as they get (or, more
accurately, chimpanzee-like). They aren't even entirely certain that mankind was bipedal at this point. The braincase was tiny, 350cc. (the average
dog has double this amount).
2-1.5mil years BCE - Australopithecus robustus is the first oldest human fossil that even shows any evidence of using something
resembling tools. Even this is is speculation as the "tools" in question are bones that were found with the remains might have been used for
Now, Homo habilis has been shown to use tools and have the capacity for rudimentary speech. So we can reasonably assume that our starting point
for humans to begin their technological leaps and bounds is at around 2 million years ago.
1.8mil - 300,000 years ago - Homo erectus is the first species found that probably used fire, and had anything resembling complex
tools. Complex being: hand axes, spears, knives, that sort of thing.
That leaves us less than 300,000 years for our nuclear/space-age society to have sprung up. For those that argue that we might have just not found the
right places to dig, I remind you that we have found ample evidence of lifeforms such as dinosaurs, protists, and such dating back millions or
billions of years. If mankind existed before 7 million years ago, there is an extremely high probability that they would have been found by now, or at
least some evidence that they should be there.
40,000 years ago - First evidence of complex tool kits establish Cro-Magnon culture. As most of these tools were used for hunting and
cooking, along with dental variations found from this era, there strong evidence to indicate that cooked food and eating habits remained the primary
evolutionary and technological drive until about 10,000 years ago. This would have left little room for much else. Lives were extremely short,
typically in the vicinity of 20-30 years, so primarily the focus would most likely be on finding a mate and reproducing.
So, for the sake of arguement, let's say that some of the Cro-Magnon men managed to rise above such petty concerns, and concentrate on technology.
Since the oldest known records of human civilization are at best estimates, between 7,000 to 10,000 years old (ie. Ur and Erdu, 8000-5000 BC), we can
reasonably assume that it takes at least that many thousands of years to develope our present level of nuclear and space-age technology.
That leaves us an earliest possible range of nuclear capability at around 30,000 years ago. Fair enough?
Now, to consider what it took for us to get to our present-day point. It wasn't just a handful of people sitting in an isolated area. It took the
interaction and cooperation of entire nations and civilizations, each producing some truly brilliant minds. It took inspirations from history and art.
It took works of fiction by creative souls to inspire the more scientifically minded that it was possible. It took two world-wars to give us the huge
rush in military technology. All of these things leave very visible and tangible traces. Namely, entire countries, cities, alloys, specially crafted
metals, and plastics. Society produces trash and impacts the environment as well.
Additionally, technology and society changes the atmosphere. We are able to determine that the very first evidence of artificial change in atmospheric
composition correlates directly with the beginnings of livestock, herding, and such. Herdbeasts like goats and such, in large numbers, produce a large
amount of CO2, Methane, and Nitrogen. This happened around 8,000- 5,000 BC. It is the very first evidence we have of this happening. Even if our
proto-civilization managed to develop an entirely clean energy source, completely biodegradable houses and cities, and subsisted entirely off of
plant-life, they would not have done so without going through the middle stages of Agriculture that leave a marked change that can be found in rock
and ice core samples.
So, even if their cities were completely buried under the ground and we just happen to have never come across them and immediately excavate them,
evidence of their advances would have been found just based upon their effects on the atmosphere.
Given the mountains and mountains of evidence we have to show the progression of mankind, when and where he was and was not, and what level of
technology existed, but only legends and scant circumstantial evidence of any sort of early nuclear/space-age cultures, I'm afraid that I must
conclude that, no, there was not a society before us that had those capabilities.
The "hot" sands may easily be explained by the shifting of soil and the earth to bring up material that was surrounding radioactive isotopes, such
as uranium. Earthquakes move soil, as do volcanoes, wind, and water. This is why in some places, earlier in history, one could occasionally find rough
jewels, gold, and other precious minerals just laying about on the soil, without having to mine for it.
The legends can be explained as the imagination of mankind, and their attributing godlike powers to anything and everything they can, even themselves.
And if our current weapons or technologies appear to resemble their stories, one could assume, much more logically, that our technology was inspired
by those legends, and hence the similarity.
In final conclusion, I'm afraid that there were not, in fact, proto-civs with nuclear weapons or spacefaring ability.
[edit on 12/29/2004 by thelibra]