Could a Civilization exist before the neolithic era

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Mosshadow, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Jürgen Well-Known Member

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    Jul 16, 2016
    Yes but there's some logic in us defining civilisations as cultures, which have left behind evidence of their existence. As example Denmark we have been a agricultural culture for 6000 years, but the first name we find are around 1500 years old, the first real history (written by our enemies) begins aroun 1200 years ago, we really only begin to have our own history (rather than myths which likely go back to late periode of the West Roman Empire[1]) around 1100 years ago. While we can see they had complex societies for all those 4500 years, we have very little idea how they thought, what their belief was etc. It the same a lot of other non-literate people suffer under, we can only guess who they were.

    [1]As example the Uffe (Offa) Hin Spage sage are from Anglish history before their migration to Britain, and as the Angles who stayed in Denmark was assimilated into Danes, that myth was kept alive.
     
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  2. The Professor Pontif of the Guild

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    I think you're missing my point. I'm not saying mountains won't get snow or rivers won't flood, I'm saying that the amounts and times will be unpredictable beyond the ability to plan well. Agriculture requires things like "winds came strongly east this winter, means the flood shouldn't be more than 2 feet up the valley". There are regular connections with weather and other phenomenon in stable climates that allow predictions, imperfect as they may be; unstable climates become too chaotic for agriculture. This chaos also makes any stable zones more temporary - farming can't persist if it's just a 1 or 2 generational thing.
     
  3. Jürgen Well-Known Member

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    Jul 16, 2016
    No I'm not missing your point, I fully get it, I just don't agree with it. A unstable global climate doesn't translate into all regional climate being unstable or random. We don't live on some kind pop Scifi planet, where there's not regional variation, and the Persian Gulf was one of those variation.
     
  4. Lenwe Well-Known Member

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    Santiago
    Like The coast of Perú that ciclical surfer from The Niño and The Niña Phenom? And they áre really incosistent? Like we have some 10 years of drougth after 5 years of flood and now The coast Will have flood again by who know how long? Well this incosistent don't stop The Moches, Nazcan, Incan, Viru,Chimú and many others in The develop of a truly remarkable civilization.
     
  5. Alex1guy First Of His Name

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    I think he's more aiming for small city states or kingdoms similar to maybe Sumeria or Egypt?

    Certainly an interesting idea, I'm just here to see what people think.
     
  6. trurle bored blue collar worker

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    Kyoto
    Very likely. Early agricultural societies tended to form in small pockets with marginally dry climate, where plant species are few and the evolution pressure from the weeds is weak compared to the selection pressure exerted by humans. Because you are asking for period before 10000 B.C., the climate changed a lot compared to modern era. In particular, Sahara desert experienced hundreds of wet years as wind pattern were changing due deglaciation.
    https://www.livescience.com/4180-sahara-desert-lush-populated.html


    Also, coastline has moved much inland due raising sea levels (60-80 meters) since end of Ice Age. Therefore, most ancient cities are likely sunk offshore.

    Therefore, if you want to find most ancient agricultural city, you should search on seafloor off shore of modern deserts which extend to (nearly) sea coasts. Not necessary Sahara..may be Kalahari desert fringing sea-bottom is better candidate.
     
  7. The Professor Pontif of the Guild

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    Then please explain why all detectable long term agriculture has been since the climate stabilised.
     
  8. Umbral Member Donor Monthly Donor

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    Dec 30, 2005
    We don't know that. Now, I would be unsurprised if it turned out that the Persian Gulf Valley, the Ur-Schatt valley was the first agricultural centre on earth and Göbekli Tepe was an outlying settlement. I'd be thrilled but unsurprised.

    However, we don't know that the Ur-Schatt valley was that stable. Present scientific opinion seem to be that it was very well protected from the hyper-aridity cycles of the Arabian peninsula. That does not mean that it was isolated from other climate fluctuations. For example, it was a fairly flat river delta with a huge lake close to what today is the coast of Iran. In a year with heavy rains the lake could very easily have flooded large parts of the delta, displacing human peoples. Which would have interesting consequences for the development of cultures there.

    I think it probable that it was stable enough though. What is interesting is that the population there seems to have been highly isolationist, similar to the Romanian ice-age refugee, but very different from the Siberians.
     
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  9. mosodake แป็นด์

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    Davis, CA
    Yup. And grapes show a period of decreasing genetic diversity (one of the hallmarks of selection and domestication) for 22,000 years prior to domestication. With both wheat and grapes, and other crops, this likely means that humans were doing mild selection and cultivation long before the establishment of agricultural communities. I wouldn't call it full-on agriculture though, at least in the beginning. They probably weren't consciously planting fields and propagating things for the most part.
    Except for this to be true, this hypothetical ancient agricultural city would have had to leave no traces in the genetic history of crops in the area. I.e., whatever they grew would have had to have gone completely extinct with them. Which seems unlikely, given that agriculture is generally rapidly adopted by neighboring communities, trade should have enabled the spread of whatever they grew into surrounding areas, and wild relatives of the crop would have interbred and maintained some of that genetic legacy. The history of domestication for wheat ends roughly 10-12,000 years ago and all modern wheat varieties can be traced back to the same wild population in Turkey, which means that there wasn't any genetic input from a different site of domestication. The story is less clear with rice, but there's a lot of evidence for either a single domestication event or two independent events, roughly 9-13,000 years ago.
     
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