Ancient civilisations

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  • #26
matthyaouw
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Apologies, I wasn't aware of evidence for population density at that time.
Could you point me towards anywhere where i could read up on this?
 
  • #27
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Sure, the literature that should back my statements:

Submarine prehistoric archaeology of the North Sea: research priorities and collaboration with industry
Edited by N. C. Flemming
CBA Research Report 141 (2004) English Heritage/Council for British Archaeology
ISBN 1 902771 46 X

last book here: http://www.britarch.ac.uk/pubs/prehist.html [Broken]

Articles:
http://www.cq.rm.cnr.it/elephants2001/pdf/363_366.pdf [Broken]
http://www.cq.rm.cnr.it/elephants2001/pdf/718_721.pdf [Broken]
http://www.cq.rm.cnr.it/elephants2001/pdf/714_717.pdf [Broken]

Last sentence of the last one:

Thus, we have no evidence to suggest that human hunting pressure
had a significant, effect on Siberian mammoth populations.

huge site: http://archaeology.miningco.com/
 
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  • #28
It seems some are happy to regard agricultural villages as "civilization." The standard seems to be that if people gave up nomadic life and settled stable villages, they had become "civilized." Well, I do have to admit that it would be hard to base civilization on a nomadic way of life!

However, it would also be hard to base it on stone tool technology and a culture without writing!

People who read world history generally gain the impression that "civilization" started with the likes of the Egyptians and Mesopotamians. The Greek-Romans, the Chinese and the Hindus all had similar systems and were all, certainly, civilizations. It seems a travesty to me to include the burrow-building European fishermen society of more than 5,000 years ago as "civilization." It is a sort of insult to the Egyptians and Sumerians-Babylonians!

Besides, the civilizations mentioned above were all based upon a new and revolutionary social system which, indeed, was what made their progress, their civilization, possible. They were set up as the first patriarchal-monogamous social systems. Ever since, every civilization has been based on that same system.

charles
http://humanpurpose.simplenet.com [Broken]
 
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  • #29
EnumaElish
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arildno said:
At Iceland (and probably the Norse settlement in Greenland), they prepared the bones into a mush and ate them as well. [...] It is a meager diet, but in a culture bordering on starvation, everything that can be eaten is eaten.
I believe that the demise of the first European settlers in Iceland and in North America shows how difficult it was to maintain a cultured life in a new land even as an "extension" of already existing cultures.
 
  • #30
EnumaElish
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Charles Brough said:
Unfortunately, however, since we are not a monogamous species
Speak for your species, Charles.
the patriarchal monogamous heirarchal societies are cursed with a cyclical nature. They begin with idealism and then eventually grow pathological and finally collapse.

Ours in on its last leg!
You are confusing explanation with prediction. History is a unique science that can produce eloquent explanations and it should stick to them, lest it will try to become prophetic and fail.

Of course, this is only a prediction.
 
  • #31
arildno
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EnumaElish said:
I believe that the demise of the first European settlers in Iceland and in North America shows how difficult it was to maintain a cultured life in a new land even as an "extension" of already existing cultures.
I think you meant Greenland, rather than Iceland!
It is true that Irish monks preceded the Norsemen in establishing colonies at Iceland; however, these monkish societies cannot really be regarded as settlers since there were no women there; it was simply a retreat for middle-aged monks.
When the Norsemen came, these were killed/enslaved, and hence, the demise of the independent Irish colonies was due to warfare, rather than starvation. (celtic blood, however, is quite present in modern-day Icelandic lineages, due to the extensive (ab-)use of Irish thralls in Viking societies).


As for why the settlement at Greenland died out, the theory most favoured today is the following:
1. The main commercial product from Greenland was walrus teeth.
2. There was no forest on Greenland, and not wealth enough there to support indigenous merchants.

Hence, the Greenlanders were completely dependent upon the circumstance that Icelandic merchants took the hazardous journey to Greenland to trade (the Greenlanders would get livestock and other types of products they couldn't produce themselves)

Therefore, as the European interest in walrus teeth declined after the Great Plague (1348-1349), no Icelandic merchant bothered to take the journey, and the colony of Greenlanders withered away.
(I think our last reference to the population there is from the early 15th century)
 
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  • #32
EnumaElish
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Charles Brough said:
Unfortunately, however, since we are not a monogamous species
How does one come up with this statement in a social science forum? Why not also exclaim:

"We" are not a childless species
"We" are a rural species
"We" are a species that do not live in the basement
"We" are a moviegoing species
"We" are not a drinking species
"We" are a driving species
...

P.S. Thank you, iansmith.
 
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  • #33
EnumaElish
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"We" are not an equestrian species.
"We" are a species that rein the horse with one hand only.
 
  • #34
loseyourname
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He has a point, though, Enuma. It could just be that humans never developed civilization for such a long time because they had no reason to. They were perfectly happy living as hunter/gatherers. Not that I know anything about the psychological states of pre-historic man, but it seems to be a possibility that no one is even considering.
 
  • #35
EnumaElish
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They were perfectly happy living as hunter/gatherers. Not that I know anything about the psychological states of pre-historic man, but it seems to be a possibility that no one is even considering.
You mean, some were happy as h/g, those who weren't happy were gently nudged by the alpha male to fall in line or else.

Meanwhile, the high point of alpha male's every fourth day was finding six more edible seeds than the usual handful in pachyderm excrement.

But, I am digressing. You were saying ... what, exactly?
 
  • #36
selfAdjoint
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The thing is, the overwhelming majority of people today are "perfectly happy" to remain in whatever life state they find themselves in, at least in the sense that they have no effective will to change it.

But a tiny minority of movers and shakers and users and takers constantly deform the public life , whether by oppressing their fellows or inventing the wheel or whatever. It is they who have produced the constant social change of human history, no millenium of which really has resembled any other. It was this active one part in ten thousand that was missing before the Cro-Magnon era.
 
  • #37
loseyourname
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EnumaElish said:
But, I am digressing. You were saying ... what, exactly?

My statement contained no ambiguity.
 
  • #38
loseyourname
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selfAdjoint said:
The thing is, the overwhelming majority of people today are "perfectly happy" to remain in whatever life state they find themselves in, at least in the sense that they have no effective will to change it.

But a tiny minority of movers and shakers and users and takers constantly deform the public life , whether by oppressing their fellows or inventing the wheel or whatever. It is they who have produced the constant social change of human history, no millenium of which really has resembled any other. It was this active one part in ten thousand that was missing before the Cro-Magnon era.

My point was related to the old saying "necessity is the mother of invention." Even those few today who innovate and create change do so because of environmental pressures. Nobody would have invented the staple or the paperclip if there didn't exist large stacks of paper in need of binding. Similarly, nobody will invent agriculture if there is enough food in a given region to support comfortably the local population. Consider this compound hypothetical question:

IF the population in question had access to enough food for all, IF they had adequate leisure time on a daily basis, and IF they had little disease and fighting, would they have any need to develop agriculture/cities? Even if you consider nothing more than the time and effort it takes to farm and to build large structures, the cost/benefit seems to weigh heavily in favor of maintaining the hunter/gatherer lifestyle until the population density or yield of the land reach the level where there is scarcity.
 
  • #39
loseyourname
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EnumaElish said:
You mean, some were happy as h/g, those who weren't happy were gently nudged by the alpha male to fall in line or else.

Meanwhile, the high point of alpha male's every fourth day was finding six more edible seeds than the usual handful in pachyderm excrement.

By the way, I'm pretty sure most early hunter/gatherer societies were fairly egalitarian and non-heirarchical. The most a person might be forced into is non-consentual mating. They also generally existed in places with abundant food, usually a variety of fruits, roots, and meat, more than seeds and berries. They certainly didn't have to scrounge through elephant crap.
 
  • #40
selfAdjoint
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loseyourname said:
By the way, I'm pretty sure most early hunter/gatherer societies were fairly egalitarian and non-heirarchical. The most a person might be forced into is non-consentual mating. They also generally existed in places with abundant food, usually a variety of fruits, roots, and meat, more than seeds and berries. They certainly didn't have to scrounge through elephant crap.


I don't see how you can say that when the bands of our closest relatives, the chimps, have alpha males AND female hierarchies too. If you posit this idealized communitarian social structure you have to show how and why it arose in one closely related species and then disappeared, bringing that species into agreement with its relative, which apparently never changed. That's two events you have to justify.
 
  • #41
loseyourname
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selfAdjoint said:
I don't see how you can say that when the bands of our closest relatives, the chimps, have alpha males AND female hierarchies too. If you posit this idealized communitarian social structure you have to show how and why it arose in one closely related species and then disappeared, bringing that species into agreement with its relative, which apparently never changed. That's two events you have to justify.

I never said I have any idea why that was the case. Don't take my word for it; I'm not exactly learned in this subject. I was just under the impression that early hunter/gatherer societies, and modern ones for that matter, were largely egalitarian. They have no real idea of material wealth simply because you can't afford to own much when you're constantly on the move. They aren't attached to land, so they aren't worried about control of that. All we have left is reproductive access, and that, I'm pretty sure men do try to control heirarchically. Again, I know nothing about this topic. My girlfriend is the anthropologist and she tells me this stuff. I'd have her post here, but she's on vacation. As far as I know, though, this isn't being posited; it's known from the available evidence.

Just to note, though, the closest relative to the Chimpanzee is the Bonobo, who live in matrilineal, non-heirarchical, peaceful societies that are radically different from Chimp societies. It isn't genetics alone that determines social behavior. Circumstance has a lot to do with it. [Edit: It's also worth noting that Bonobos are just as closely related to us as Chimpanzees are. In fact, they're really just a subspecies of Chimp.]
 
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  • #42
EnumaElish
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loseyourname said:
My statement contained no ambiguity.
Sorry, I was ambiguous about your ambiguity. You had posted:
He has a point, though, Enuma.
Who has a point? And why was I being addressed in relation to this person's point?
 
  • #43
EnumaElish
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loseyourname said:
My girlfriend is the anthropologist and she tells me this stuff. I'd have her post here, but she's on vacation.
Not to conflict your girlfriend (or your claim that you have one*), my guess is humans as individuals and societies then were at least as varied as they are today. They had conservatives vs. progressives; nice persons vs. bullies; shy vs. outward oriented; vegetarians vs. cannibals; compassionate people vs. serial killers; givers vs. takers; empaths vs. intellectuals; monogamists vs. polygamists; and probably distinctions along some other dimensions that have become culturally extinct since then.

As far as societies go, just think of the different ways of native North American tribes before colonization -- they had peaceful vs. warring tribes; fishers vs. hunters; canoe people vs. walking people; etc.

I frankly do not understand the point you were making in your first post addressed to me under this thread. I am guessing that you thought Charles had a point -- I never said he didn't. I was just poking fun at his outrageous statement that "we" as a species (none the less) are not monogamists. Uh, let "us" see... Assuming Charles is primarily hetero, if he's simultaneously dating 7 females, 4 of whom are content with his divided attention and presently are not romantically involved otherwise, then does that mean "we" are monogamists or polygamists? And then his thinking that one can pretty much explain the whole human history and predict its future (why be modest?) based on this statement in a social science forum earns every bit of fun anybody can throw at Charles.
____________________
*I know this is in rather bad taste, I just couldn't waste the opportunity. :blushing:
 
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  • #44
EnumaElish
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If many a men (including probably all human males during the dawn of homo sapiens and some famous Roman Kaisers, but countless other men from virtually every generation) had sexual relationships with some of the females in their immediate family, then does it follow that "we" are incestuous as a species? Whatever the answer,* would you put your money on "our" civilization being on its last leg because of it? Last but not least, is a social sciences forum the best place to pose this question and its alleged historical consequences? I think not.
____________________
*Hint: from a social science point of view there is no right answer because the question is meaningless. So, answer freely, dear reader, as your answer can't be worse than any other. Feel free to circle (on your screen) any of the following ready-made answers provided for your convenience: "Yes," "No," "Maybe," "I do not care," "Not applicable," "Not available," "Can you repeat the question?", "I do not agree with your premises," "I think you are pompous," "You are witless," "I am vain," "This parrot is dead," Other (please specify): ______.
 
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  • #45
EnumaElish
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"We" are a species that drive on the right side of the road.
"We" are a species that do not drive on the wrong side of the road.

We are a bipedal species. Because of this, our civilization is on its last two legs.
 
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  • #46
selfAdjoint
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Is this thread going anywhere? It was interesting for a while but seems to have stabilized to endlessly reshuffled debating poits.
 
  • #47
EnumaElish
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It's an ancient thread and I hope everone agrees that so far it's been civilized.
 

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