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First Fruit, Deep History


Probably domesticated (since seedless mutant) figs found from 11,400 years ago, north of Jericho. Oldest evidence of plant domestication, predating cereals and legumes by 1000 years.

Expanding on the diptych thread: we think of the classical Greeks and Romans as the ancients, thanks to the Renaissance and lack of competition. The classicals in turn were awed by the antiquity of Egypt, and for that matter the Jews: we're 2000 AD, classical Greece was 500 BC, Egyptian records go back to 3000 BC. But domestication goes back to 9000 BC, and the oldest cities might as well. People as we know them are at least 50,000 years old (Australia being settled and cut off about 40,000 years ago) with art and musical instruments and beads to match.

So "Ancient history" (Egyptians, Sumerians) only covers the last 10%, at most, of the real history of Homo sapiens. There's 45,000 (maybe 70,000, maybe more) years of technological, cultural, and religious development behind us, with no more traces than tools, food middens, art, and maybe tally sticks -- which last might suggest astronomy was going on.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 2nd, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC)
ok, what i wonder about is the internet... which seems to be one of the cleanest dividing lines between us and everything before us. if we've been forming civilizations and making our way through life in just the way you would expect *us* to do, for thousands of years...

then thousands of years ago was there a drive for something like live journal or a BBS? or google for that matter... beyond just the diptych, what about distributing and sharing information? ...people always talk about wandering bards and such, but a bard seems like it would come closer to replacing CNN than blogging.

or is the need for blogging/bbs discussions only the result of modern forces...?

Jun. 2nd, 2006 09:56 pm (UTC)
Hmm. Personal diaries seem hostage to writing material cheap enough for such uses -- paper, maybe clay? parchmen only if you're rich enough. Wikipedia says the oldest extant diaries are from Asian court ladies; we've got diarists from the Renaissance but that's into the paper era for the West. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius seem to qualify, though; philosophical musings written on campaign.

I see mention of Babylonian "Astronomical Diaries", recording astronomical and political events; logkeeping of important events probably pre-dates personal events. The page says some of the entries are "Sky was cloudy" or "I did not watch."

Tangential, but a 2300 BC poem by a Sumerian woman, said to be among the first literary works with a known author.

I'm seeing letters in a website of Sumerian, mostly to or from kings. The only extant writings of the Greek philosopher Epicurus are three letters to friends, preserved by an ancient biographer. I see mention of cuneiform recipes and receipts, Egyptian letters.

"The papyri used for making cartonnage [mummy wrappings] often came from recycling bins in administrative offices." Another page mentions "memoranda" in ancient Egypt.

So: communicating with other individuals goes back to writing. Communicating with self in small notes probably does as well. Communicating with self en masse is less clear and may have been too expensive for most. Communicating with others en masse, well, someone would have to copy the letters. This is probably how the Epistles of the New Testament spread, and I think Renaissance times had individuals who would collect letters and send updates out to other scientists, proto-journals.

Without even printing, distributed communication is a pain. China had movable type around 1000 AD and thus cheapish books; I don't see mention of newspapers. People's impulses are roughly the same, but what they can do, and thus what they think of doing, is subject to technology. No writing, writing, writing with cheap medium, printing, electronic editing, electronic networks: each one gives more options for what you can do, which might be novel but quickly graspable to someone from a previous stage.
Jun. 2nd, 2006 10:52 pm (UTC)
But really, I think most LJ behavior isn't new at all. It's a substitute, unbound by space and time constraints, for getting together with friends and chatting, or for gossip, or for ranting in public. People chatting in cyberspace rather than around the village well. You and I conversing this way, rather than walking two blocks to visit or go for drinks. :) Of course, you also get to converse with friends in Ohio, and I get to trawl Wikipedia in the middle of a discussion. But the basic drive is yakking with people.

For wider distribution of information, there were scriptoria, pre-printing publishing.

Now I should be off and meet with people to yak^Wrun Buffy board games.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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