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G David Bock
Lynden WA USA
Posts: 480
Joined: 2020
Archaeology and Other Distant Past Events
12/6/2020 1:49:19 PM
.... foundations for the Present.

Leading off with this rather interesting find;
Sprawling 8-mile-long 'canvas' of ice age beasts discovered hidden in Amazon rainforest
Ice age people painted these animals 12,600 years ago.
EXCERPT:
An 8-mile-long "canvas" filled with ice age drawings of mastodons, giant sloths and other extinct beasts has been discovered in the Amazon rainforest.

The gorgeous art, drawn with ochre — a red pigment frequently used as paint in the ancient world — spans nearly 8 miles (13 kilometers) of rock on the hills above three rock shelters in the Colombian Amazon, a new study finds.

"These really are incredible images, produced by the earliest people to live in western Amazonia," study co-researcher Mark Robinson, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter, who analyzed the rock art alongside Colombian scientists, said in a statement.

Indigenous people likely started painting these images at the archaeological site of Serranía La Lindosa, on the northern edge of the Colombian Amazon, toward the end of the last ice age, about 12,600 to 11,800 years ago. During that time, "the Amazon was still transforming into the tropical forest we recognize today," Robinson said. Rising temperatures changed the Amazon from a patchwork landscape of savannas, thorny scrub and forest into today's leafy tropical rainforest.

The thousands of ice age paintings include both handprints, geometric designs and a wide array of animals, from the "small" — such as deer, tapirs, alligators, bats, monkeys, turtles, serpents and porcupines — to the "large," including camelids, horses and three-toed hoofed mammals with trunks. Other figures depict humans, hunting scenes and images of people interacting with plants, trees and savannah creatures. And, although there is also ice age animal rock art in Central Brazil, the new findings are more detailed and shed light on what these now-extinct species looked like, the researchers said.
...
https://www.livescience.com/ice-age-rock-art-amazon.html
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden WA USA
Posts: 480
Joined: 2020
Archaeology and Other Distant Past Events
12/8/2020 3:34:07 PM
War in the Time of Neanderthals: How Our Species Battled for Supremacy for Over 100,000 Years
It’s exceedingly unlikely that modern humans met the Neanderthals and decided to just live and let live.
EXCERPT:
...
Around 600,000 years ago, humanity split in two. One group stayed in Africa, evolving into us. The other struck out overland, into Asia, then Europe, becoming Homo neanderthalensis – the Neanderthals. They weren’t our ancestors, but a sister species, evolving in parallel.

Neanderthals fascinate us because of what they tell us about ourselves – who we were, and who we might have become. It’s tempting to see them in idyllic terms, living peacefully with nature and each other, like Adam and Eve in the Garden. If so, maybe humanity’s ills – especially our territoriality, violence, wars – aren’t innate, but modern inventions.

Biology and paleontology paint a darker picture. Far from peaceful, Neanderthals were likely skilled fighters and dangerous warriors, rivalled only by modern humans.

Top predators

Predatory land mammals are territorial, especially pack-hunters. Like lions, wolves and Homo sapiens, Neanderthals were cooperative big-game hunters. These predators, sitting atop the food chain, have few predators of their own, so overpopulation drives conflict over hunting grounds. Neanderthals faced the same problem; if other species didn’t control their numbers, conflict would have.

This territoriality has deep roots in humans. Territorial conflicts are also intense in our closest relatives, chimpanzees. Male chimps routinely gang up to attack and kill males from rival bands, a behaviour strikingly like human warfare. This implies that cooperative aggression evolved in the common ancestor of chimps and ourselves, 7 million years ago. If so, Neanderthals will have inherited these same tendencies towards cooperative aggression.

All too human

Warfare is an intrinsic part of being human. War isn’t a modern invention, but an ancient, fundamental part of our humanity. Historically, all peoples warred. Our oldest writings are filled with war stories. Archaeology reveals ancient fortresses and battles, and sites of prehistoric massacres going back millennia.

To war is human – and Neanderthals were very like us. We’re remarkably similar in our skull and skeletal anatomy, and share 99.7% of our DNA. Behaviourally, Neanderthals were astonishingly like us. They made fire, buried their dead, fashioned jewellery from seashells and animal teeth, made artwork and stone shrines. If Neanderthals shared so many of our creative instincts, they probably shared many of our destructive instincts, too.
...

...
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/war-in-the-time-of-neanderthals-how-our-species-battled-for-supremacy-for-over-100-000-years?utm_source=pocket-newtab
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 155
Joined: 2008
Archaeology and Other Distant Past Events
12/21/2020 11:37:06 PM
Quote:
W

Around 600,000 years ago, humanity split in two. One group stayed in Africa, evolving into us. The other struck out overland, into Asia, then Europe, becoming Homo neanderthalensis – the Neanderthals. They weren’t our ancestors, but a sister species, evolving in parallel.
l]


Neanderthals are your ancestors, unless your ancestors came from Sub Saharan Africa.

https://www.the-scientist.com/features/neanderthal-dna-in-modern-human-genomes-is-not-silent-66299

"about 2 percent of the DNA in the genomes of modern-day people with Eurasian ancestry is Neanderthal in origin."

Some researchers say Sub Saharan Africans are also part Neanderthals.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/30/africa/africa-neanderthal-dna-scn/index.html

"We all likely have a bit of Neanderthal in our DNA -- including Africans who had been thought to have no genetic link to our extinct human relative, a new study finds."

"They found that modern Europeans, Asians and Americans -- but not Africans -- inherited about 2% of the genes from Neanderthals, with our ancestors apparently hooking up with their stocky cousins only after they moved out of Africa.

However, researchers from Princeton University now believe, based on a new computational method, that Africans do in fact have Neanderthal DNA and that very early human history was more complex than many might think."



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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
G David Bock
Lynden WA USA
Posts: 480
Joined: 2020
Archaeology and Other Distant Past Events
12/27/2020 6:04:53 PM
Do Civilisations Collapse?
The idea that the Maya or Easter Islanders experienced an apocalyptic end makes for good television but bad archaeology.
EXCERPTS:
...
There’s a common story of how the Maya civilisation was wiped out: they fell foul of unstoppable climate change. Several periods of extreme drought withered their crops and killed off thousands in their overpopulated cities. ‘There was nothing they could do or could have done. In the end, the food and water ran out – and they died,’ wrote Richardson Gill in 2007. The jungle reclaimed the cities with their palaces and pyramids until they were rediscovered in the 19th century by intrepid explorers.

Likewise, we all know that the Easter Islanders chopped down all the palm trees on their small, isolated island to clear farmland for their ever-growing population and to move their characteristic moai statues, not realising that they were eroding their landscape, reducing their food production, and ultimately cutting themselves off from the bounty of the sea – and the possibility of escape. The Europeans who found the island in the 18th century wondered how such primitive people could ever have had a civilisation developed enough to carve the majestic stone heads.

These stories come from frequent reports in the mass media, from luridly titled history documentaries such as the History Channel’s Who Killed the Maya? (2006) or the BBC’s Ancient Apocalypse: The Maya Collapse (2012-14), and especially from books on the environment and sustainability. Jared Diamond’s bestselling Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005) is only one of many works that recount them – ensuring that they have reached an audience of millions. There are similar stories about many other past societies, whether it is the Puebloans of the southwestern United States, the Harappans of the Indus Valley, or the ancient Mesopotamians. It has even been claimed by some that climate change has been the major driver of collapse, and by others, such as Diamond, that deforestation and environmental damage have very often been to blame.

The stories are often presented as cautionary tales to frighten us into correcting the error of our ways – lest we bring about the end of our own global civilisation. They promote an ethic of environmental responsibility that we ignore at our peril. It is no coincidence that they focus on climate change, human-caused environmental impacts and overpopulation because these three factors are the major global concerns of our times. They have a strong appeal to us because of the ubiquity and antiquity of disaster-based stories. Daily, the media shows us images of both real and fictional disasters: earthquakes, famines, plagues, tsunamis and so on, and these are recycled into yet more fact and fiction in an ongoing process of cultural production and continuity. When we think of what a collapse would look like, a ready-made set of ideas and images comes to mind.

But are these stories right? Is that really what happened to the Maya and the Easter Islanders? In the view of many archaeologists, collapse is not quite so simple – the silver-bullet theories grow less convincing the closer they are scrutinised. As the eminent archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler sagely pointed out in Civilisations of the Indus Valley and Beyond (1966): ‘The fall, like the rise of a civilisation is a highly complex operation which can only be distorted by oversimplification. It may be taken as axiomatic that there was no one cause of cultural collapse.’



Like jargon in any field, ‘collapse’ has specific meanings that can be misunderstood or taken out of context. Many archaeologists follow Colin Renfrew’s Approaches to Social Archaeology (1984) and Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988), which both see collapse as an abrupt political change and reduction in social complexity that has knock-on effects throughout society, visible to archaeologists in the material culture. If we think of complexity in terms of the ‘parts’ a particular society has, or the levels in its social hierarchy, we can visualise this kind of collapse easily.

In After Collapse (2006), Glenn Schwartz compiled a useful list of circumstances in which archaeologists might identify collapse: ‘the fragmentation of states into smaller political entities; the partial abandonment or complete desertion of urban centres, along with the loss or depletion of their centralising functions; the breakdown of regional economic systems; and the failure of civilisational ideologies’. For some non-archaeologists, such as Diamond, who approach collapse from an ecological perspective, collapse means primarily population collapse – the deaths of many people and, of course, significant cultural, political and social change. Archaeologists might also identify decreases in population, but this is not their primary characteristic of collapse.

Take the Mycenaean culture of Late Bronze Age Greece. Several states with central palaces developed by around 1400 BCE. At the heart of each palace was a distinctive building called a megaron. These throne rooms had large central hearths, surrounded by four columns, and a throne in the middle of the right-hand wall. They were usually decorated with elaborate frescos. Aegeanists link the development of kingship with the development of this architectural scheme – which is the material expression of a distinctive ideological system. We know that there were kings because some of the palaces kept selective records of goods and materials that came in and went out or were stored on clay tablets in the Linear B writing system; these mention a figure called the wanax, who could appoint people to positions, took part in ceremonies, and held the most land.

Around 1200 BCE, perhaps over a span of a few decades, the palaces were destroyed in fiery events – Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos and others. Though there was rebuilding at some sites – most clearly visible at the major site of Tiryns, where a new palace was built over the earlier megaron’s foundations – it followed quite a different architectural form, without the hearth and four columns. Linear B fell out of use and, we surmise, the system it represented came to an end, or at least reduced in scale. The palace at Pylos, which had been the centre of a large territorial kingdom in Messenia, was abandoned. Around Greece, the number of visible sites drops considerably in this ‘Postpalatial period’ (though conspicuously not in the parts of Greece that had had no palace centres to begin with). There was no more building of impressive tholos (or beehive) tombs that the kings of Mycenae had built, of grand Mycenaean fortifications, or of public works such as bridges, harbours, and drainage. It seems clear that we can usefully term what happened in Mycenaean Greece around 1200 BCE as a collapse.

But there were continuities. Mycenaean pottery styles were retained and the tradition kept alive for another century and a half before other styles were developed. Religion endured: many Late Bronze Age gods, such as Zeus and Poseidon, were worshipped in historical times. It’s likely that the fall in the number of visible sites reflects the conflict and instability that started in the years before 1200 BCE and continued into the 12th century CE; rural sites might also have become generally smaller and less visible as the population came together at chosen sites. And as archaeologists know, sometimes there are just blank spots in the evidence – some periods and places where we know that people and societies are just very hard to detect. The Late Bronze Age Greeks did not suddenly disappear, although a drop in population over time is likely.
.........
We also need to think about what we apply the term ‘collapse’ to – what exactly was it that collapsed? Very often, it’s suggested that civilisations collapse, but this isn’t quite right. It is more accurate to say that states collapse. States are tangible, identifiable ‘units’ whereas civilisation is a more slippery term referring broadly to sets of traditions. Many historians, including Arnold Toynbee, author of the 12-volume A Study of History (1934-61), have defined and tried to identify ‘civilisations’, but they often come up with different ideas and different numbers. But we have seen that while Mycenaean states collapsed, several strands of Mycenaean material and non-material culture survived – so it would seem wrong to say that their ‘civilisation’ collapsed. Likewise, if we think of Egyptian or Greek or Roman ‘civilisation’, none of these collapsed – they transformed as circumstances and values changed. We might think of each civilisation in a particular way, defined by a particular type of architecture or art or literature – pyramids, temples, amphitheatres, for example – but this reflects our own values and interests.
......
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/do-civilisations-collapse?utm_source=pocket-newtab
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In addition to the select excerpts above, here's another item I came across several years ago which could be a factor;

Comets and the Bronze Age Collapse
by Bob Kobres
https://cosmictusk.com/2124/
[Read More]
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
G David Bock
Lynden WA USA
Posts: 480
Joined: 2020
Archaeology and Other Distant Past Events
12/27/2020 6:08:17 PM
NOTE - the following site~link has a limit on number of free views, so consider such before clicking in.

Just How Dark Were the Dark Ages?
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe wasn’t quite the horrible and backwards place earlier historians would have you believe. Modern scholars now look at the Dark Ages in a whole new light.
...
Whether it’s the idea of barbarian hordes run amok across a continent ruled by the Romans for centuries, or the notion that science and the arts went through a 300-year freeze, the concept of the Dark Ages has always titillated the imagination.

In truth, a big part of what makes the era dark to modern eyes is the relative lack of surviving information. But what we don’t know has always been at least as interesting as what we do know. Did King Arthur really exist, let alone send his knights on a quest to find the Holy Grail? Was there ever a legendary hero named Beowulf, and how long had his story existed before the oldest known surviving manuscript appeared in roughly the 10th century?

Of course, the Dark Ages also refers to a less-than-heroic time in history supposedly marked by a dearth of culture and arts, a bad economy, worse living conditions and the relative absence of new technology and scientific advances. While the period continues to fascinate history buffs, scholars and fantasy fans looking for some tangible link to their favorite mytho-historical heroes, the term “Dark Ages” has largely fallen out of use among serious researchers, due to some of the implications and assumptions made by those who first propagated its use.

“No academic uses it today — because it’s actually one of the most fascinating and vibrant periods about which we are discovering new knowledge every year,” says Julia Smith, a professor of medieval history at the University of Oxford’s All Souls College.

Let’s take a closer look at those aspects of the period that scholars typically refer to now as the Early Middle Ages to separate, the dark from the light.
....
https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/just-how-dark-were-the-dark-ages?utm_source=pocket-newtab
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TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

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