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19-05-2017, 18:32   #1
ScumLord
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Are hunter gathers the missing ancient civalisation

I was watching Joe Rogan's podcast and he had Graham Hancock on with two other guys (one was an established scientist I didn't see the whole thing yet) and were debating Hancocks ancient civilization theory, that there was an "advanced civilization that got wiped out resetting human civilization back to the stone age after some sort of disaster. They were promoting the idea that there was an asteroid strike some 14000 years ago that lead to this downfall.

Part of the justification was Gobekli Tepe and how hunter gatherers weren't smart enough to construct it, they couldn't have built it because it's an isolated case of hunter gather building, they must have gotten help from other more knowledgable people. He then goes on to say right after that monument was built we get towns, cities, religion, civilization and farming.

I don't think we are giving hunter gathers much credit here, I don't think he is fully realising what life for hunter gatherers might have been like, they weren't idiots, recent examples of hunter gathers show that even though they were mobile they had a lot in common with settled communities when it comes to things like textile and tool production. hunter gathers have an intimate knowledge of the natural world, I don't think there was a eureka moment when it came to farming. They likely knew full well that seeds turn into plants and knew it for a long time, I think it's possible they were managing wild fauna for thousands of years, they just had no incentive to settle. I think they had social reasons to roam and didn't want to settle on one food source.

I think there could have been a wide ranging cooperation between hunter gathers. They could have been crossing paths, meeting up, trading, marrying, and quite possibly creating temporary settlements shared between friendly tribes. One tribe could decide to head west and another go east with the intention of meeting up later in the year and trading the excess they accumulated along the way. That gives them access to more resources, and a reason to gather into larger social groups.

The only reason we have Gobekli Tepe is because they buried it, it could have been one of multiple sites, with the rest just eroding away.

I don't think hunter gatherers would have been in any rush to settle if they liked roaming and had social reasons to do it. But if they start creating shared religious sites, and are starting to manage natural food sources like grass plains it starts to make sense to have a few people stay behind to manage their resources. I'm thinking of monks staying at the likes of Gobekli Tepe.

Could hunter gathers around at the time be considered a civilization? Just a wide ranging unsettled one? Is putting hunter gathers into a separate lesser category a form of discrimination against that lifestyle?

Could there have been a few thousand years of peaceful hunter gather collaboration that eventually forced settlements to spring up to manage trade points, religious sites and natural food sources?
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21-05-2017, 17:30   #2
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Sounds a very reasonable argument to me SL. And one I would share. Those human hunter gatherers were extremely sophisticated peoples. Their rock art and portable art was astonishing in its sudden novelty, skill and breadth. And that's the stuff we find preserved. Mostly in caves and other out of the way relatively stable places. As you note we could and likely have lost so much of what they made.

Taking much later examples like henges. They started off erecting them in wood, moving on to stone. If we never had the stone examples, we might have a very different view about what little remains of their wooden structures. If Gobekli Tepe had been a wooden construction out in the open(and not buried) we'd have no clue.

Maybe there was a similar trajectory. Wooden first and then stone. They were very adept at manipulating stone on a small scale, so they could and obviously did scale up. Even non modern humans seem to have done this. Neandertals, the even more "pure" hunter gatherer people, diverted resources and built a circular structure of fashioned stalactites on a cave floor 300 odd metres from the entrance tens of thousands of years before we showed up.

It's also not that much of a leap to go from using(and manipulating) natural structures like cave walls and floors, to bringing the cave outdoors. Especially in areas without those natural structures.

It has long been my take that "art" first showed up as a means of group affiliation and territory marking and this was first practiced on our own bodies, body paint, feathers, tattoos etc., then some group decided to "tattoo" the landscape with paintings and the like, the next step is to create the landscape itself and make the art standalone.
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22-05-2017, 14:11   #3
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Originally Posted by Wibbs View Post
It has long been my take that "art" first showed up as a means of group affiliation and territory marking and this was first practiced on our own bodies, body paint, feathers, tattoos etc., then some group decided to "tattoo" the landscape with paintings and the like, the next step is to create the landscape itself and make the art standalone.
I listened to the rest of that podcast and the scientist they had on was trying to say that cave paintings in Lascaux was comparable to Gobekli Tepe, but Joe and his other guests couldn't believe he'd say that, how can art be comparable to construction?! It just shows a complete lack of understanding when it comes to art, which I guess is somewhat understandable.

Most people don't seem to fully appreciate how important art is, Gobekli Tepe is basically a big piece of art. So the cave paintings are directly comparable.
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01-06-2017, 16:42   #4
tac foley
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The Lasceaux cave paintings are an estimated 17,000 years old. Is there a suggestion here that the Gobekli Tepe site is as old as that?

I can find no evidence for them being contemporary.

tac, a VERY amateur archeologist
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01-06-2017, 17:10   #5
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The Lasceaux cave paintings are an estimated 17,000 years old. Is there a suggestion here that the Gobekli Tepe site is as old as that?
Gobekli tepe is estimated to be 12,000 years old however that's just the surface ones I think, there's layers of them underneath so it's hard to tell how long the site was in use. It's a strange site, they would build a temple, then bury it and build a new one on top.
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