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Mesopotamia NOT the cradle of Civilisation?

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posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 06:03 AM
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Some new discovery's in middle asia are throwing some doubt on the long held belief that Mesopotamia is the cradle of human civilisation.
It will certainly be interesting to watch events unfold in this area.
There is also evidence of a written language different to cuneiform which would drastically change our perceptions of how we have advanced through history, though the authenticity of these tablets is still being debated.
Unfortunately there has been a lot of artifacts looted from this region.

livescience


New discoveries at dig sites in Middle Asia are rocking the archeological world and redefining the origins of modern civilization.



Archaeologists have thought that modern civilization began in Mesopotamia, where the large Tigris and Euphrates rivers bounded a fertile valley that nurtured an increasingly complex society.
The social structures, wealth and technologies of this society slowly spread along the Nile and then the Indus rivers in the 3rd millennium B.C.



But further exploration of two nearby mounds found evidence of a large city, one that may have rivaled contemporary Ur in Mesopotamia. "These people were trading with the Indus, with Mesopotamia, to the north and south," Lawler said.
According to Carl Lamberg-Karlovsky of Harvard University, the site dates back to 4000 B.C.,



"They were in communication, but creating their own vibrant cultures," Lawler said, "developing their own pottery styles, art, and possibly their own writing system."
The potential discovery of a new writing system was perhaps the largest controversy of the many discussed at the conference. Three tablets, the first discovered by a local farmer and the others subsequently unearthed by professional archaeologists, appear to contain a unique iconography.


related article


During the previous excavations in Kopandeh Tepe in Isfahan, archeologists succeeded in identifying a 6000-year-old civilization near Gav-e Khooni swamp. So far, archeological excavations near Zayandeh Rud River in the city of Isfahan resulted in the discovery of some earthen architectural remains and residential settlements as well as three skeletons which were buried in residential dwellings. Now archeologists are determined to resume their excavations in this historical site to find more about this ancient civilization.


saudiaramcoworld.com


Painstakingly extracting the five-centimeter- (2"-) long rectangle from the trench wall’s packed clay, the archeologist turned it to the sunlight. Amid faintly inscribed lines and images of human and animal figures, he was amazed to discover what appeared to be an unfamiliar form of writing.



As the author of a three-volume history of Mesopotamia and a leading Iranian authority on the third millennium BC, Madjidzadeh has long hypothesized that Jiroft is the legendary land of Aratta, a “lost” Bronze Age kingdom of renown.


www.cais-soas.com


"The ancient city in the mid- to late 3rd millennium B.C.E. covered more than 2 square kilometers, dominated by a large citadel flanked by a massive stepped platform to the north," the story says. "A room excavated last year in the citadel includes a 2-meter-high brick human torso, ochre paint still clinging to the surface. The sculpture, says Madjidzadeh, is the largest of its kind from that era."



At a second site, northeast of Jiroft, researchers have found the remains of "a bustling metropolis between 2550 and 2400 B.C.E., as large as 150 hectares and with at least 380 smaller sites in the surrounding region." Evidence suggests the as far back as 3000 B.C.E., the city benefited from long-distance trade. "Artifacts from that era include lapis from Afghanistan, shells from the Pakistan coast, vessels imported from the Indus, and game boards in the style of those found in Ur," Lawler said.


Perhaps Mesopotamia was not the first but merely one of many city states that sprung up at around the same time that traded and interacted with each other across that whole area from the Euphrates across to Jiroft in Iran and to Afghanistan and the Indus valley region. And perhaps even further east, there is some evidence to suggest trading as far east as China.
Whatever the outcome of the research yet to come from this it does give rise to the thought that, yes, perhaps civilisation is much older than first thought and just how far back will the timeline be pushed.
What other sites are still out there waiting to be unearthed and what surprises will they have in store for us.

Any thoughts or other links and information on this would be appreciated.

mojo




posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 06:22 AM
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a week a ago I have seen a documentary called Myths of Mankind - The Mahabharata.
It goes a long with what your thread is saying.
In the north west of India they have uncover a very large city that some archeologist claim to be much older then Mesopotamian
I have no link for this material as I got this documentary on CD from a friend.

If I find any I will post it.

Kacou



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 06:32 AM
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Thanks Kacou, there have been a couple of threads on here lately which refer to the discovery's in India you are thinking of i think.
It seems that there may be alot of regions in that area, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India that have not had a lot of archeaological excavation, perhaps due to the uneasy political and social climate in these areas over the past few decades.
Wouldnt it be nice if we could all stop blowing each other up and concentrate on furthering our knowledge of our history hand in hand with each other. How much important artifacts have been destroyed or looted due to the conflicts in this region and lost forever?



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 10:29 AM
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I am beginning to think the "cradle of civilization" label is a Colonialism.

Humans have always lived in small bands or tribelets. One can argue that civilization began when they started passing knowledge from one person to another (like "that big thing with teeth over there will eat you") -- certainly, that's when culture began. We think of civilization as occurring when people moved to permanent settlements and began farming.

Now...that brings up some peculiar disjoints in knowledge. That means that almost no Native Americans had a civilization (exceptions would be the tribes of the Iroquois Confederation, the Hopi, the Navajo, and southward only the Incas and Mayas and Olmecs and Aztecs). That would also mean that the Hebrews didn't have a civilization (they were nomadic sheepherders).

Anyway, it doesn't surprise me that stable permanent communities spring up in many areas of the world. It would be more of a surprise if they were found in only one area of the world.



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 10:58 AM
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Perhaps the definition of a civilisation needs to be adjusted then Byrd.

link


archeologists generally agree, he says, that a distinct civilization is characterized by unique monumental architecture and by its own form of writing.


It would seem that a written language has been one of the main distinctions of a 'civilisation'. How would you describe a civilised society.



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 03:35 PM
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I think and I think it is not necessarily true that everything ancient is from Middle East.

I am not an expert in this field, it is just that I think the middle east area is a dessert where everything is easily spotted.

There were many pyramids found around the world which were hidden in jungles, or what they called Lost City though Egyptian pyramids were found to be the oldest so far, but which again not necessarily true.

I won't be surprised one day they found a much older than middle east civilization sites on other part of the world, mostly probably India.
That will certainly kill off some religions.


Let's ask Byrd for opinions.



[edit on 10-8-2007 by Cibai]



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 06:22 PM
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Originally posted by mojo4sale
Perhaps the definition of a civilisation needs to be adjusted then Byrd.

link


archeologists generally agree, he says, that a distinct civilization is characterized by unique monumental architecture and by its own form of writing.


It would seem that a written language has been one of the main distinctions of a 'civilisation'. How would you describe a civilised society.



Well, I'm not a professional archaeologist (only an anthropologist) -- so if we go by that definition, then Catalhoyuk MAY be the oldest, but only if they can prove writing. Ditto some of the early Harappan cities and some of the Chinese areas. Pre-Olmec peoples wouldn't have had a civilization by those standards (they didn't write.) Come to think of it, the Celts in the British Isles wouldn't have had civilizations since they also didn't have a system of writing until the Romans gave it to them.

I still think it's kinda colonial of them, but I'm a quirky critter.


I think we're getting into a "what, exactly is a planet and how big is it" kind of label here.

Hmmm... interesting to think about. Every "solution" leads to other questions. If you say "has more than one permanent living site and had a recognizable type of artifacts, then city-states like early Athens get kicked out.

Anyway, now we know what they mean. It eliminates some sites, but it gives a bit of a standard.

Over here, we can make up our own darn definition.
And perhaps we should!



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 06:41 PM
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Actually, the very first sophisticated human civilization was located approximately where St. Louis, Missouri, USA, is located today. Of course, it doesn't look like much now, since the glaciers came and scrubbed it nice and clean. Look for remnants of the huge fortresses as chunks of wood and dirt debris left in the Ozarks.

See, because "advanced civilizations" have to make things out of stone, you know. Wood and earth don't count.



[edit on 10-8-2007 by SuicideVirus]



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 06:50 PM
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Originally posted by Byrd


I still think it's kinda colonial of them, but I'm a quirky critter.


I agree. ( about the colonial bit, not you being quirky
)


Originally posted by Byrd
Hmmm... interesting to think about. Every "solution" leads to other questions. If you say "has more than one permanent living site and had a recognizable type of artifacts, then city-states like early Athens get kicked out.

Anyway, now we know what they mean. It eliminates some sites, but it gives a bit of a standard.



I'm not sure that a written language should be a prerequisite. I would say a steady/largish population, ability to supply enough resources to keep your population happy, permanent structures/buildings and some sort of government/beaurocracy to administer basic standard of living. Whether the govt consists of chieftains and/or elders as long as they control and administer the distribution of resources that to me would be a major factor in considering what to define a civilisation as.
I think the terms of reference need to be much broader than they are at present.


Originally posted by Byrd
Over here, we can make up our own darn definition.
And perhaps we should!


No argument from me. Be interesting to see what other members think constitutes a "civilisation".


[edit on 10/8/07 by mojo4sale]



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 07:02 PM
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Originally posted by SuicideVirus
Actually, the very first sophisticated human civilization was located approximately where St. Louis, Missouri, USA, is located today. Of course, it doesn't look like much now, since the glaciers came and scrubbed it nice and clean. Look for remnants of the huge fortresses as chunks of wood and dirt debris left in the Ozarks.

See, because "advanced civilizations" have to make things out of stone, you know. Wood and earth don't count.



[edit on 10-8-2007 by SuicideVirus]


Please elaborate on that. Correct me if I am wrong, but the Glacial ice sheets didn't get that far south at least around the time any meaningful groups of coordinated people were living in that area.



posted on Aug, 11 2007 @ 07:55 AM
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Managed to find a whole heap of differing opinions on just exactly what constitutes a "civilization".

A Definition Of Civilisation


Civilisation: is the tangible expression of a communal understanding.


wikipedia


Settlement from nomadic life meant possessions could be accumulated, land could be individually owned. Laws, the state and armies were developed to protect possessions and inequality.
Intensive agricultural techniques, such as the use of human power, crop rotation, and irrigation. This has enabled farmers to produce a surplus of food that is not necessary for their own subsistence.
A significant portion of the population that does not devote most of its time to producing food. This permits a division of labor. Those who do not occupy their time in producing food may instead focus their efforts in other fields, such as industry, war, science or religion. This is possible because of the food surplus described above.
The gathering of some of these non-food producers into permanent settlements, called cities.
A form of social organization. This can be a chiefdom, in which the chieftain of one noble family or clan rules the people; or a state society, in which the ruling class is supported by a government or bureaucracy. Political power is concentrated in the cities.
The institutionalized control of food by the ruling class, government or bureaucracy.
The establishment of complex, formal social institutions such as organized religion and education, as opposed to the less formal traditions of other societies.
Development of complex forms of economic exchange. This includes the expansion of trade and may lead to the creation of money and markets.
The accumulation of more material possessions than in simpler societies.
Development of new technologies by people who are not busy producing food. In many early civilizations, metallurgy was an important advancement.
Advanced development of the arts, especially writing.





Anthropologists distinguish civilizations, in which many people depend on agriculture for food and live in cities, from band societies, in which people live in nomadic, semi-nomadic groups, or tribal societies, in which people may live in small semi-permanent settlements.



Also, in addition to a variety of specialist artisans and craftspeople, civilizations are all characterised by a social elite, whose status is inherited from birth.


www.inthewake

This common thread is control. Civilization is a culture of control. In civilizations, a small group of people controls a large group of people through the institutions of civilization.


I'm inclined to break it down into a basic definition.
1.Permanent structures.
2.A stable population ruled by some kind of elite, whether that be a chieftain, a council, elders etc.
3.Domesticated animals or agriculture.
4.Arts, whether writing, pictorial, statues, pottery etc.

I would say that any culture living under these circumstances would constitute a civilised society.

Any thoughts or additions to this?



posted on Aug, 11 2007 @ 12:10 PM
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Originally posted by mojo4sale
Any thoughts or additions to this?


I would also add that a probably a good definition of an advanced civilization would also include a high level of interdependency among the people, particularly in the cities, such that many would have difficulty attaining the necessities of life if the civilization fell. For instance, if my local gas stations and supermarkets suddenly closed down, it would be pretty difficult for me to get food. I'm not a hunter or farmer, and I'm not in the habit of sustaining myself. I need other people to supply me with food and clean water. Otherwise, I have to become a scavenger/predator to survive. Civilization is gone.



posted on Aug, 11 2007 @ 12:38 PM
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Originally posted by pavil
Please elaborate on that. Correct me if I am wrong, but the Glacial ice sheets didn't get that far south at least around the time any meaningful groups of coordinated people were living in that area.


I was partially joking about that. It seems to me that archeologists still have a kind of prejudice about thinking the oldest human civilizations were located in the Middle East. The people who get the "credit" for having the earliest civilizations are always those who managed to build structures out of stone or brick. Why? Because those are the structures (or remnants) in dryer, more environmentally stable regions, that managed to survive the years. Large communities, such as the that of the Cahokia, are often forgotten or ignored because instead of building in stone, they built using wood and earth, which naturally tends to erode over time. Particularly when a glacier moves through, or near.

IF there was a relatively large and advanced civilization that existed prior to the last Ice Age in and around the St. Louis, Missouri, area that built wood and sod structures instead of rock, there wouldn't be much if anything of it left. Maybe a few scattered pottery shards buried under debris and loess deposits.

Why St. Louis? Because larger population centers tend to arise in the same kinds of places all over the world. Where two large river systems converge.

[edit on 11-8-2007 by SuicideVirus]



posted on Aug, 11 2007 @ 05:12 PM
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I hear what you are saying, just wasn't sure if I missed somthing.

It seems wherever conditions were right, mankind setup shop and decided to abandon the nomadic way of life and that to me is the start of civilization. That would explain all the Delta areas being prime candidates.



posted on Aug, 11 2007 @ 06:01 PM
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Originally posted by SuicideVirus
For instance, if my local gas stations and supermarkets suddenly closed down, it would be pretty difficult for me to get food. I'm not a hunter or farmer, and I'm not in the habit of sustaining myself. I need other people to supply me with food and clean water. Otherwise, I have to become a scavenger/predator to survive. Civilization is gone.


So the sharing of resources, via storehouses and granary's with the distribution controlled by the community or elite would cover this?

Two communities that would seem to me to have the basic requirements i outlined in my previous post would be Mehrgarh and Catalhoyuk, both considerably earlier than Ur.

Mehrgarh


Mehrgarh, one of the most important Neolithic (7000 BCE to 3200 BCE) sites in archaeology, lies on the "Kachi plain of Baluchistan, Pakistan, and is one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (cattle, sheep and goats) in South Asia."[1]
Early Mehrgarh residents lived in mud brick houses, stored their grain in granaries, fashioned tools with local copper ore, and lined their large basket containers with bitumen. They cultivated six-row barley, einkorn and emmer wheat, jujubes and dates, and herded sheep, goats and cattle. Residents of the later period (5500 BCE to 2600 BCE) put much effort into crafts, including flint knapping, tanning, bead production, and metal working. The site was occupied continuously until about 2600 BCE.[2]


Catalhoyuk


The community seems to have consisted entirely of domestic housing with open areas for dumping rubbish. There are no obvious public buildings or signs of division of labour, although some dwellings are larger than the rest and bear more elaborate wall paintings. The purpose of larger rooms remains unclear, though some sort of ritual purpose is suspected.[1]
The population of the eastern mound has been estimated at up to 10,000 people, but population totals likely varied over the community’s history. An average population of between 5,000 to 8,000 is a reasonable estimate. The inhabitants lived in mud-brick houses



Although no identifiable temples have been found, the graves, murals and figurines suggest that the people of Çatalhöyük had a religion that was rich in symbol. snip...In upper levels of the site, it becomes apparent that the people of Çatalhöyük were gaining skills in agriculture and the domestication of animals. snip...The making of pottery and the construction of obsidian tools were major industries. Obsidian tools were probably both used and traded for items such as Mediterranean sea shells and flint from Syria.


Both were active around 8000 to 7500 bc.



posted on Aug, 11 2007 @ 06:07 PM
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I would imagine that the oldest "advanced" civilizations are still hidden under the oceans, some that may be 10,000+ years old. There may even be some that were over 100,000 years old but could have been lost to massive flooding or continental shift, maybe even weapons of mass destruction. I believe in the theory of panspermia, as well as being influenced by advanced off-world races. It is thought by some scholars (as pointed out in Sitchin's books) that when man first realized the concept of being naked and needing to clothe himself, he reached a pivotal point -- learning to think for himself in a civilized manner, especially with regards to sexuality and consensual relationships -- that he was no longer dependent on off-world cultures for influence and no longer needed to think of them as "gods."

[edit on 8/11/2007 by pjslug]



posted on Aug, 11 2007 @ 06:27 PM
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Originally posted by pjslug
I would imagine that the oldest "advanced" civilizations are still hidden under the oceans, some that may be 10,000+ years old. There may even be some that were over 100,000 years old but could have been lost to massive flooding or continental shift, maybe even weapons of mass destruction.


10,000 year old + permanent settlements would and and I believe have been found; the key word is "advanced". Cro Magnon is only 40,000 years old at most and their dwellings would have been of organic materials that would not last for us to find.

The flood mythos very well could be from oral tradition dating back to the retreat of the ice age of the Mediterranean flooding over the Bosphorus and flooding what was to become the Black sea, which also would have flooded the river deltas of the Middle East. There is not enough evidence to support and advanced civilization further back as there are no tell tale traces of it. It would be different if we found a Massive city state somewhere but there isn't evidence.

[edit on 11-8-2007 by pavil]



posted on Aug, 15 2007 @ 06:35 PM
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Originally posted by pavil
It seems wherever conditions were right, mankind setup shop and decided to abandon the nomadic way of life and that to me is the start of civilization. That would explain all the Delta areas being prime candidates.


And as soon as they start building permanent structures you would have the beginnings of a civilised society i would think. Once you have a permanent settlement you would begin to think about storing resources, domesticating animals, making pottery and specific roles for members of the settlement. This would push the accepted idea of "civilization" back more than 10000 years.



posted on Aug, 15 2007 @ 07:24 PM
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Various authors describe cities and civilizations in the Tigris and Euphrates area of modern Iraque whose evidence for existance are the extensive writings found on thousands of clay tablets discribing life at the time. The site at UR is an example. The major cities had temples where the gods lived or visited. The temples had scribes who meticulously wrote down what was happening supposedly at the direction of the gods. Tablets have been found discribing all aspects of civilization at the time which included the basic professions such as architects, builders, medicine and law. What would be interesting is if these/ this newly found site has archeological evidence in the form of writings that relate to those of the better documented areas in the Gulf region.



posted on Aug, 15 2007 @ 07:37 PM
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Originally posted by plumranch
What would be interesting is if these/ this newly found site has archeological evidence in the form of writings that relate to those of the better documented areas in the Gulf region.


Good post plumranch.

They claim to have found some tablets with writing at the Jiroft site but this has not been authenticated yet. If they are authentic then it really does open up a can of worms.

livescience


The potential discovery of a new writing system was perhaps the largest controversy of the many discussed at the conference. Three tablets, the first discovered by a local farmer and the others subsequently unearthed by professional archaeologists, appear to contain a unique iconography.


If some form of written communication is found at Catalhoyuk however then things will get really interesting.



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