How do we know there wasn't an advanced civilization on earth 12,000 years ago?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Malone, May 6, 2019.

  1. trurle bored blue collar worker

    Dec 12, 2013
    I think the tech level cap for lost civilizations at "14th century level" accounts for this. That civilization may still have only short-range transport means, and therefore can be theoretically wiped out, leaving localized and yet undetected traces only.
    Also, small land footprint may mean the global impacts of "14th century level" civilization can still be undetectable.
  2. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

    Aug 3, 2009
    I think you're misinterpreting the point of the claim about trade. The claim was not that long-distance trade is indicative of the existence of a civilization, which the note about the flint exports probably should have indicated; rather, it was that if there was such a civilization, then its products should have diffused over long-distance trade routes away from the "lost" (flooded or whatever) area into surrounding places where they would be noticed. The lack of such anomalies therefore tends to be evidence against anomalous civilizations that were significantly more advanced than their neighbors, although it doesn't rule out less obviously anomalous civilizations.

    Realistically, the only way advanced civilizations could have avoided our detection would be if they were either located in ultra-deep history so that even geological evidence would have been reprocessed by now (there isn't that much Precambrian rock left...), though in this case they would pretty much have to be aliens, or if they were only slightly 'advanced' compared to their neighbors, so that they would not be particularly obvious. In fact the latter situation almost certainly occurred at different points--there must have been various protosettlements and protocities that were part of the process of inventing agriculture and city-dwelling but which were abandoned and lost for one reason or another, and haven't been rediscovered. But this is more a matter of finding an early Jericho or Eridu, not discovering fantasy Atlantis.
    rfmcdonald, kholieken and Wolttaire like this.
  3. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer

    Jan 26, 2011
    Guess the OP should define what a "relatively advanced civilisation" is?

    If you are following Hancock then it's classical Rome at best I think (it' hard to tell as his new thing is the "invisible world")
  4. DougM Well-Known Member

    Feb 18, 2015
    I am not convinced that a relatively small 14 century of earlier civilizations would HAVE to be detectable. They are not that large a population so they don’t have THAT big an effect or foot print. Add in that at that point coal was NOT the main thing burnt (actually in most pre 14 century society it was hardly burnt at all) And you are not going to convince me that wood burning in cooking fires and such shows up any different then wild fires.
    The tech also is not leaving materials of particular substance behind.
    As for footings and such. If they were located below current sea level or in an area that Mother Nature scribed clean say by volcanoes or mountain slides or glaciers then you would see no foundations even assuming they built substantial foundations (not a given) to be detected.
    So with a small advanced civilization I think they could have been overlooked. We are not talking England during the industrial revolution. Or even something the size of Rome.
    We are talking about a dark ages level small (Ish) community that may have built in a location that got covered up by moved earth, ice or water.
    So let’s not fall for the belief that we are 100% certain about the history of the whole world. We are not even 100% certain what happened in ancient Egypt. If you think we are then show me proof how the Pyramids were built as well as by whom and when. We have good theories but true scientific “proof” not so much. It is very hard to truly prove something from 3000 years ago. 12,000 would be even harder.
    catalfalque likes this.
  5. The Professor Pontifex Collegii Vexillographiariorum

    Feb 22, 2006
    Collegium Vexillarum
    The problem is that any civilisation more advanced than its neighbours is either going to expand into them or dominate them via trade. Their goods will be rather visible in the archaeology of those they dominate. This makes any society since the "ice age" difficult to be hidden.
    rfmcdonald and kholieken like this.
  6. fasquardon Cosmonaut

    Sep 24, 2012
    Well, evidence is mounting that multicellular life was much more common in the precambrian than we once thought. The whole "Cambrian explosion" seems to have just been an explosion of conditions favourable to forming fossils, not an explosion of interesting things we'd want to see fossils of.

    And there have been a few tantalizing finds from the ice age of things that look like they could be proto-herding (where bones of certain animals are super common and look like they've been cooked and eaten, and when those animals are of a species that was later domesticated, also, they may have found evidence of a pen that giant sloths were kept in - my memory may be wrong on that though) and there's the way most hunter-gatherer cultures manage the plants they gather, with some plants even being gardened.

    The evidence is weak, but there's a real possibility that some steps occurred much earlier than we have solid evidence for. There's nothing to indicate full agriculture though.

    In the dark ages, something like 50 million people lived in Europe, maybe as much as 90 million, and while long-distance trade had declined, there was still trade across Europe and with the Muslim world and through them, the world beyond.

    You make good points about the uncertainties that build up as we go back in time. But this isn't like the small uncertainty about the exact date the pyramids were built, this is the existence of some level of city-dwelling people. The less developed the civilization and the more time between us and them, the easier they are to miss, but 12,000 years ago is relatively recent.

  7. rfmcdonald Well-Known Member

    Aug 30, 2012
    Lead released from Roman smelting is detectable in Greenland ice cores.

    Indeed, output from Rome and Han China seems to have contributed to climate change.

    Reliable records of the content of the atmosphere go back one million years, at least.
    Analytical Engine likes this.
  8. catalfalque Wandering Historian

    Feb 28, 2006
    It's also possible that there are remains, and we just don't understand it. I watched a very interesting lecture on Jordan, and all the neolithic houses, "kites" etc in the desert. There were clearly a large number of people there then, largely, at least, sedentiary, and civilised in many regards.
  9. Mark E. Well-Known Member

    Nov 11, 2007
    Forgottonia, USA
    As time goes on, you're going to see more discoveries of ancient settlements that failed to leave traces that connect to the known progression of civilization. I might think Mexico and South America have the greatest potential for yet-undiscovered early bronze age communities.
    catalfalque likes this.
  10. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

    Aug 19, 2011
    Tennessee, North American Union
    Very likely (especially considering the long-existing issues of looting), but they wouldn't be much more than a few thousand years old.
  11. sloreck Grunt Bear

    Aug 4, 2008
    All of the "evidence" for such a civilization is basically looking at something unusual, like the Naszca lines, or some anomalies of various sorts. If there had been an "advanced" civilization 12,000 years ago, and I mean really advanced, there would be some evidence. Yes a localized civilization that was ahead of other neolithic civilizations that was wiped out in a geologic catastrophe like Santorini is possible, but that is not really advanced as some of the folks who believe in Atlantis or the aliens etc talk about. Arguments in favor of this are like some of the "young earth" folks who show an anomaly or two and say "see this disproves that the earth is older than "x" years" or absent the bones of a half human half chimp say "no evidence for evolution". There is lots of evidence that such an ancient significantly advanced civilization did not exist, and little if any evidence it did - lots of "what if" and speculation.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If you are making a claim that contradicts the vast bulk of evidence (not guesses/speculation/religious dogma but EVIDENCE) don't bring a knife to a gun fight.
    The Professor likes this.