• Gunung Padang: Letter to Danny Hilman Pt.2

    Dear Danny,

    This is my penultimate post about Gunung Padang, unless and until you formally publish your results, or dramatic new information emerges. I’m going to start by mopping up a few leftover details and niggles from the work on the site, and from your responses; and I’ll finish next time by addressing issues that only became apparent to me as I dug into the activities of your Tim Katastropik Purba and its connections with a private research group called Turangga Seta.

     

    The “River Rocks” and the Artificial Embankment

    According to your chronology, the summit was renovated about 3000 years ago (or maybe 7000, or maybe even earlier), when a retaining wall was built and backfilled on the south end of the terraces, where no columnar andesite is found. Both the earth and the stones were brought up, you say, from the river. You explain it most explicitly on video to Andrew Collins (see 22:47 onwards): all the soil at that end has been carried up from elsewhere, all the rocks are round from being in the river; and—most critically—because they are different from the columnar rocks on the other faces of Gunung Padang, they can only have been brought to their present location by humans, and are further evidence that G. Padang is an artificial construction.

     

    As far as I could find, no pictures of these rounded “river rocks” have been published—but screen caps from Mr. Collins’ video give a very good idea of what they look like. And what they look like to me is not river rocks, but volcanic bombs. That’s what they looked like to my friendly neighbourhood geologist, as well, and I would be interested in hearing what other geologists reading this might have to say. If they are volcanic bombs, they are the sort of thing you’d fully expect to find buried in volcanic deposits, with no need to suggest human agency. And it would make a nonsense of the image of labourers toiling up from the river with loads of earth to remodel the summit, and particular nonsense of the C14 dates collected from the “backfill.”

    Speaking of the “backfill,” I gather it is the level in the 10m-deep sondage described as homogeneous and unstratified, which is a major reason why you consider it to be artificial. I could not get a good look at the level—the closest I could get was screencaps from two videos (here and here) taken from the bottom of the sondage, showing a dense reddish matrix larded with lots of those rounded stones.  What it does not look like, however, is artificial backfill. In fact, the kind of deposit you suggest would be anything but homogeneous. Any artificial secondary deposits I’ve seen or excavated have been somewhat heterogeneous, often with lenses, tip lines and even individual baskets-full of earth visible in the profiles. Fluvial sediments would likely be abundant in shells, vegetable matter, and the bones of both fish and mammals, which you do not mention finding.  To sum up, the “homogeneous level” looks less like an artificial embankment than a thick natural deposit of soils derived from volcanic materials – ash and tephra—with embedded volcanic bombs.

    I notice also that, throughout your stratigraphic analysis, you do not weigh in a factor pointed out by, for example, Sutikno Bronto: that some of the features you interpret as successive building levels could be accounted for by the disturbances from periodic earthquakes and landslides.

    The Rolling Stone

    This item, found near the bottom of the 10m sondage and visible in situ in the photograph above, gave rise to great excitement when it was discovered: a spherical stone shell enclosing a spherical stone, which could roll in its casing like the ball in an old computer mouse. It became the focus of a lot of stories. For example:

    After analyzing the strange Rolling Stone, researchers decided to roll the stone 7 times to the right and 7 times to the left, at the advice of ‘community leaders.’ To their surprise, the Rolling Stone functioned as a key, giving way to yet another passageway.  …

    Still mystified by the stone, the team decided that it merited further studies. With the help of the military, who assisted in the excavation, the Rolling Stone was brought to the surface of Gunung Padang for inspection. And, that’s when another strange thing happened. / Upon bringing it to the surface, something astonishing unfolded before their eyes. When discovered, the Rolling Stone was black in color, and measured roughly 11-12 centimeters in diameter. Within a matter of just a few minutes, the stone changed into a greyish color and expanded to over 3 times its original size.

    Are those serious claims? When I look at the pictures of the Rolling Stone, oddly enough, I see just another natural volcanic feature. Which is what other Indonesian geologists viewing it have also said. Again, I would be interested in the comments of any geologists reading this. I do not know what to make of the claim for the rock’s shape-shifting properties, though I find it about as credible as the story about rolling the inner stone seven times left and seven times right.

    However, I found one of your comments on it on a Facebook thread very interesting. An elder Indonesian geologist posted a comment on his page regarding whether the “rolling stone” and the hill itself were natural or artificial, with him leaning towards “natural.” You riposted that the rolling stone is “not important” and then launched into a restatement of your interpretation of the stratigraphy. This is the same tactic you used when challenged on the coin—that it was “not important,” even though the colleagues on your own team based huge claims on it, which were picked up as fact by the pseuds and the media. And I notice a somewhat similar pattern with the next artifact under discussion.

    The Electrical Device

    I could find very little information about this much-touted discovery, nothing but breathless media speculation about the advanced technology it represents. A typical description:

    Dr. Danny Hilman is responsible for the archaeological team conducting research on the site and they have recently announced a discovery of a oddly shaped metal device that is presumed to be the world’s oldest electrical device. According to researchers, this object is made out of gold and copper and seems to resemble a primitive electrical capacitator. According to some researchers, this newly found device seems very similar in structure to the biblical descriptions of the “The Ark of the Covenant“. Carbon dating confirms the device to be 2500 older than The Ark of the Covenant.

    The only direct comment of yours that I could find was in a FB posting on Graham Hancock’s page, in response to his direct request for information. You said: “It seems to be a modification of an older article, and surely it is not right, I haven’t said such things.” Good for you for setting the record straight—but a pity that your disclaimer was not made more widely, and seems to have fallen on deaf ears. The “world’s oldest electrical technology” has taken on a life of its own in the growing legend of Gunung Padang.

    Your Archaeological Synthesis

    I’m not talking here about your “archaeological” interpretation of the site, but your strawman views of how mainstream archaeology approaches the past, and your alternative approach. In a nutshell, you appear naive about how archaeology works, in a way that strikingly matches the naiveté of “alternative scholars” like Graham Hancock, Andrew Collins, and Semir Osmanagic.

    For example, take the opening slides of your powerpoint presentation, The Pre-Historic Cultures: Are They Primitive?  Slide 3 shows a graph of global population estimates starting with the beginning of the Common Era (about 300,000,000), with the caption: “If we extend the linear trend back then zero population occured (sic) at 3000 years BC. But human race appears on Earth since 195,000 years ago! How’s that possible?” Which is the kind of absurd argument that I have previously only seen used by Young Earth Creationists, to prove mathematically that we all descended from the eight survivors of Noah’s flood.

    Your point (I think) is that, in order to extrapolate linearly to zero population at 200,000 years ago, we’d need to posit an absurdly low rate of population growth—thus, you propose cyclical catastrophes that occasionally reset humanity to nearly zero. But your initial assumption—linear global population growth at a constant rate—is fallacious. And you do know about the other hominins, right? And how speciation necessarily involves an existing population?  Essentially, you’re proposing a series of bottlenecks like the Toba Event, and hinting that each also destroyed “advanced civilizations”—fine, but where is the evidence?

    The fact is that the model you reject is the model amply supported by the archaeological evidence: a couple million years of hominins living the wandering, foraging life with low-tech but effective technology; the emergence of archaic and AM humans, accompanied by a stunning florescence of lithic and other technologies, still in mobile foraging mode; and the beginnings of sedentation as early as the Epipaleolithic in some places, with markers of increasing social complexity and a preadaptation to food production.

    To me, it sounds like you cannot accept that anatomically modern humans with brainpower identical to ours would go for so long without inventing civilization. Is that your position? If so, it is not just naive about the nature and process of civilization—it is an absurd value judgment.

    Next and last: the Sunda Agenda.

    Category: FeaturedScienceSkepticism

    Article by: Rebecca Bradley

    7 comments

    1. Dear Dr. Bradley,

      I started writing this comment that originally went like this: “Unfortunately, you are simply wasting your time …”, but then I changed my mind. I, as well as many others who wrote comments, were examples ample enough to show that your efforts were not wasted. Thank you for that.

      Nevertheless, I still have to criticize you: you are being too soft on these charlatans. Actually, you even frustrated yourself by trying to be nice, as I gathered from the tone of your writing, which progressively became harsher, as it should have been from the beginning. Please, be harsher!

      These people pray on the ignorant bunch who are more than ready to gobble down any superstition, especially those served in small servings and nicely sauteed in pseudo-science. That’s all. Therefore, Dr. Natawidjaja is nothing but a basic liar. Maybe, he wasn’t so in the beginning. But, now, he is in too deep and, probably, can’t find a clean exit. As you raised the issue in your letter, I was also intrigued as to why he never invited an archaeologist to join his team.

      As for the other guy, Graham Hancock: oh my god! It was actually his web site and articles that made me suspicious about the whole thing. Plus this: he made a terrible mistake when referring to Göbekli Tepe.

      In his article “From Indonesia To Turkey …” (grahamhancock.com/indonesia-to-turkey-hancock) Mr. Hancock writes: “… Gobekli Tepe (which means “Potbellied Hill” in the local Kurdish language) …” which is wrong because both words are genuine Turkish. Especially, “tepe” is quite ancient and linguistically important. Therefore, if the mistake is an honest one, then Mr. Hancock is a very bad researcher; if not, then he is a blatant liar. Now, he must choose one of these titles. I would be happy with either outcome.

      Dr. Bradley, my expertise is in technology, another fertile field for such snake-oil salesmen to thrive, and I have been fighting the same kind in my small circles. We teach college kids, from the beginning, the laws of physics, say, laws of thermodynamics. Yet, even in their senior years some of them can still swear that they saw a YouTube video proving the concept of perpetual motion machine, or a new whatever that can save 30-60% on car fuel, and so on. Then, I realized that they actually wished and hoped that the obvious trickery played out before them may have a chance, however small, of being true. It was simply a human condition.

      It is not unlike the case of fast food versus healthy food. Just as fast food is catered to your feet and is easy to eat, so are pseudo-sciences, metaphysics (in the bad sense), superstitions, and religion. Science, doing and making of it, on the other hand, is hard to prepare, tiresome, arduous, hard to chew, … just like the healthy food. This is why people readily flock around religious leaders, politicians, astrologers, alternative science and technology mongers, alternative medicine, and so on.

      The basic flaws necessary to be able to cater to the need for fantasy of the people are simply a capacity for telling lies, and, lack of conscience and morality. And, we have plenty of people with such a character around us.

      By the way, just recently, the governing party where I reside was finally able to disprove (!) Darwin’s theory of evolution. “It is just a ‘theory’,” they say, as in “I have a theory.” Then, they properly removed the topic from all primary and secondary school curricula. And, who approved wholeheartedly? The people! I have seen the same people in USA and elsewhere, too. My thought on this was and still is as follows: Of course, you can’t make a monkey accept evolution.

      Believe me, Dr. Bradley, we are still living in the middle ages. Well, I mean the ratio of the illuminated to the rest has not yet changed appreciably.

      With regards,

    2. Dear Rebecca,
      First, my initial suggestion still stands, if you really want to understand what’s going on, we are very open if you want to come and see Gunung Padang and all the data we have yourself, not just making conclusion (and accusation) by just compiling whatever information you can get from the internet. Anyway, I’ll comments on your letter below.
      About The “river rocks” and artificial embankment: I can assure you, it is absolutely not a volcanic bombs and also we didn’t find any tephra or tuff layers at Gunung Padang mound. The stratigraphy of these rounded boulders at this southern side of Gunung Padang, where we dig 11-m trench, is juxtaposed abruptly with the thick artificial layer of columnar-joint rocks below the “southern-most terrace” (i.e. called the fifth terrace of the megalithic site). In short, it must not be an insitu geological formation but “transported materials”; and we conclude that it is an artificial layer or back fill. We found a unique stone artefact (i.e. famously called the Kujang stone artefact) buried at about 3-m deep at another trench, a few meter south of the 11-m deep trench. “The Rolling Stone”, which was found at about 10-m depth, becomes famous since lots of people claim that it appears to have been shape-shifted… well, off course any one will hard to believe it including myself. I was not at the site when it happened, but I interrogated people who watch it (including my research team and the army), and none of the eye witnesses deny it; So, what can I say? The bottom line, I cannot claim that it is true (I wish someone took a video of the shape-shifting processes) but it is not that important for my (geological-archeological) study anyway. What’s important is the documentation of the rock layer (where the “rolling stone” found) showing that it is not the natural rock formation; that just it. The geologist in charge of this excavation is Dr. Andang Bachtiar, one of the top sedimentologist in Indonesia. The conclusion as I describe here is also his conclusion (and his team). One of my team who is an expert in petrologist, Dr. Andri Subandrio from the Institute of Technology Bandung, wanted to take this rolling stone to his lab to investigate “the rolling” property of the rock including whether it is natural (because of spheroidal weathering) or else but the local people did not permit us to take it, they wanted to put this rock inside the trench again and buried it, so we did it.
      About the “electrical device”, it is interesting that you are still posting it in your article like it is one of my “pseudo-science” act by highlighting it in an italic-font paragraph, but thanks to you, still kindly mention my direct comment to this story as a hoax, but still blaming me not made this information more widely though… Why? I was not happy indeed, someone telling this story like it came from me, but I don’t want to waste my time to respond (I only responded when somebody asked me).
      About my “archeological synthesis”; well this is a very interesting topic aside from Gunung Padang. You have highlighted one of my talk that Homo Sapiens (our species) has appeared since 195,000 years ago (according to the oldest fossil has ever found), and we generally believe that our culture just started to develop since about 11,000 years ago (the end of Pleistocene or the beginning of Holocene period) marked by the invention of agriculture. And if we extrapolate back our population it goes to (near) zero in ~10,000 years ago or 10 Ka according to several studies (IT IS NOT 200 ka my dear Rebecca, you misread my power point!). If we extrapolate back linearly from 0 AD then it goes to zero in about 5 Ka! These are the “facts”, Are we have an agreement? Then, it is logical if one question about what happen with the process of civilization between 195 ka and 11ka? Yes? I am also aware of other brainy human-like-us species like Neandhertal and Dennisovan, but at this time, let’s just focusing on our species. One excellent book that discuss about it is “The Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. It tries to explain about what happen between 195 Ka to 70 Ka (where H.Sapiens is believed to start spreading worldwide from Africa – The Out of Africa Theory), and then from 70 Ka to 11 Ka (invention of Agriculture), and from 11 Ka till recent. The book states that the invention of agriculture in about 11 Ka is very unlogical, it said a “big fraud of the century”. However, the book mostly focuses on the history from 11 Ka. It tries to explain what happens between 70 Ka and 11 Ka, but very unclear since worldwide data is sparse, in deed; And say almost nothing about what happens between 195Ka and 70 Ka since worldwide data is close to zero. Have you read it? So, If do you think I am naïve about the process of civilization, why don’t you explain or make your own story about it? I would like to hear. If you are still working toward your Ph.D in archeology, I think this is one of a very interesting and challenging topic. Nonetheless, my basic training is a geologist, not an archeologist. In my hypothesis (not a synthesis like you said): I proposed that the power of nature that can reset human population and culture has been being undermine. The suspected bottle neck in human population when Toba supervolcano erupted about 74 Ka is not my preposition but it is according to other people studies (you can search it). I only pointing out that the Toba-eruption even seems to be coincided with the timing of “Out of Africa even”, when people from Africa populate the world, or should we say RE-populate the world…?. Don’t you think it is interesting to study further? Another suspected Global Catastrophic even and closer to us is the Younger Dryas (YD) even (12.9 ka – 11.6 Ka). I am well aware of debates and controversial about the cause of YD, but whatever the cause of this drastic-extreme global temperature changes it seems to be related to worldwide mass extinction of large animals like mammoth, stegodon etc. Interestingly, almost no study about what happened to Homo Sapiens during YD even. We just believe that the rise of Homo Sapiens culture started after Younger Dryas. Before that we generally believe there is no advance culture. So, in short, I think it is legit if I proposed a hypothesis about taking into account the global natural catastrophic events in explaining human history; Hence, the development of human history may not be linear but cycles, terminated by global catastrophic events. You are asking about where the evidences? Oh come-on, are you serious? It is hypothesis that needs research. I am not developing this hypothesis if it is already proven (by enough evidences). I think geologists and archeologist (and historians) should work more closely together.

      Sincerely,
      Danny

      1. My goodness, what a wall of words. Almost as long as the OP. I’ll need to answer in chunks, as and when I have the time.

        Danny: First, my initial suggestion still stands, if you really want to understand what’s going on, we are very open if you want to come and see Gunung Padang and all the data we have yourself, not just making conclusion (and accusation) by just compiling whatever information you can get from the internet. Anyway, I’ll comments on your letter below.

        And my previous response still stands. “Nobody should need to see the place with their own eyes to get an idea of “the truth” of what’s happening there—it is your job to make sure the evidence is presented adequately in a form usable by other scholars… [Y]ou have allowed misinformation to go uncorrected, and wild speculation to go uncurbed. You only seem to speak out when your claims are, and for good reason, critically examined.” That is to say, it is your responsibility, and your fault, if the only information available is on the internet. So publish, already.

        Danny: About The “river rocks” and artificial embankment: I can assure you, it is absolutely not a volcanic bombs and also we didn’t find any tephra or tuff layers at Gunung Padang mound. The stratigraphy of these rounded boulders at this southern side of Gunung Padang, where we dig 11-m trench, is juxtaposed abruptly with the thick artificial layer of columnar-joint rocks below the “southern-most terrace” (i.e. called the fifth terrace of the megalithic site). In short, it must not be an insitu geological formation but “transported materials”; and we conclude that it is an artificial layer or back fill.

        I’m already well familiar with your claims. And still skeptical. So publish it—put it out there for formal peer review.

    3. Continuing my response to Danny Hilman:

      Danny: About my “archeological synthesis”; well this is a very interesting topic aside from Gunung Padang. You have highlighted one of my talk that Homo Sapiens (our species) has appeared since 195,000 years ago (according to the oldest fossil has ever found), and we generally believe that our culture just started to develop since about 11,000 years ago (the end of Pleistocene or the beginning of Holocene period) marked by the invention of agriculture.

      No archaeologist or anthropologist would say culture started to develop with the invention of agriculture. You’re making the common mistake of confusing “culture” with “civilization.” In fact, there’s a great deal of research into the rich, complex cultures of both historic and Palaeolithic forager societies. Whereas “civilization” technically refers to state-organized societies, reflecting a level of social complexity—it’s a separate category from “culture.”

      And if we extrapolate back our population it goes to (near) zero in ~10,000 years ago or 10 Ka according to several studies (IT IS NOT 200 ka my dear Rebecca, you misread my power point!). If we extrapolate back linearly from 0 AD then it goes to zero in about 5 Ka!

      Actually, I was not misreading your slide, I was puzzling over how to make sense of it; and your attempt to clarify is only more confusing. Your slide puts the population at zero in 3000 BCE (about 5 ka, as you state above) – but what on earth, I asked myself, would that have to do with a hypothetical (and unevidenced) bottleneck at about 10 ka? And why do you use both figures in the above paragraph?

      These are the “facts”, Are we have an agreement?

      Sorry, no. What facts? The fact that a fallacious linear extrapolation will give us zero population at either 5 ka or 10 ka? Check out what archaeology demonstrates was happening in the world at those dates. As I said, it’s the kind of argument I’ve only ever seen trotted out by Young Earth Creationists, and I am mystified that a bona fide scientist like yourself would use it.

      Then, it is logical if one question about what happen with the process of civilization between 195 ka and 11ka? Yes?

      Non sequitur. And, see below.

      One excellent book that discuss about it is “The Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. It tries to explain about what happen between 195 Ka to 70 Ka (where H.Sapiens is believed to start spreading worldwide from Africa – The Out of Africa Theory), and then from 70 Ka to 11 Ka (invention of Agriculture), and from 11 Ka till recent. The book states that the invention of agriculture in about 11 Ka is very unlogical, it said a “big fraud of the century”.

      Yes, I know the book; it’s kind of a fun popularization, though not particularly groundbreaking. But your quote shows that you have either misunderstood or misrepresented what he has to say. You seem to be saying that he questions the rise of agriculture at about 11 ka, and considers the concept fraudulent—a fraud perpetrated by archaeologists? Is that how you read it, or am I misunderstanding you? At any rate, here is the relevant chapter from the book, in case anyone is interested, and here is the quote in context:

      Harari: “Scholars once proclaimed that the agricultural revolution was a great leap forward for humanity. They told a tale of progress fuelled by human brain power. Evolution gradually produced ever more intelligent people. Eventually, people were so smart that they were able to decipher nature’s secrets, enabling them to tame sheep and cultivate wheat. As soon as this happened, they cheerfully abandoned the gruelling, dangerous, and often spartan life of hunter-gatherers, settling down to enjoy the pleasant, satiated life of farmers.

      “That tale is a fantasy. There is no evidence that people became more intelligent with time. Foragers knew the secrets of nature long before the Agricultural Revolution, since their survival depended on an intimate knowledge of the animals they hunted and the plants they gathered. Rather than heralding a new era of easy living, the Agricultural Revolution left farmers with lives generally more difficult and less satisfying than those of foragers. Hunter-gatherers spent their time in more stimulating and varied ways, and were less in danger of starvation and disease. The Agricultural Revolution certainly enlarged the sum total of food at the disposal of humankind, but the extra food did not translate into a better diet or more leisure. Rather, it translated into population explosions and pampered elites. The average farmer worked harder than the average forager, and got a worse diet in return. The Agricultural Revolution was history’s biggest fraud.”

      This is, in fact, the exact opposite of your hypothesis. And it’s the sort of thing I was teaching in Introductory Archaeology courses more than twenty years ago, only I called that particular lecture “Agriculture: Our First Big Mistake.”

      However, the book mostly focuses on the history from 11 Ka. It tries to explain what happens between 70 Ka and 11 Ka, but very unclear since worldwide data is sparse, in deed; And say almost nothing about what happens between 195Ka and 70 Ka since worldwide data is close to zero.

      Actually, his summation of the Palaeolithic is pretty good and succinct, and quite entertaining. The data are limited by preservation factors for nonlithic materials, but certainly not as sparse as you suggest. We can have a reasonable idea of what the various human species were up to during the Pleistocene; more importantly, we can have a better-than-reasonable idea of what they were NOT up to — that is, nowhere is there any Pre-Holocene evidence for complex settled societies engaged in food production and/or monumental architecture.

      So, If do you think I am naïve about the process of civilization, why don’t you explain or make your own story about it? I would like to hear.

      Your view of the process of civilization boils down to an outmoded model we call Unilineal Evolution, basically a 19th-century formulation that sees onward-and-upward “progress” as the natural path of mankind, with “civilization” as the goal. It’s more or less the stance described by Harari in the first quoted paragraph, above, and debunked in the second. The unilineal model didn’t hold up to the evidence, and was abandoned early in the 20th century — but alas, pseudoarchaeologists just keep on reinventing it. For current theoretical models, see any up-to-date introductory archaeology textbook.

      If you are still working toward your Ph.D in archeology, I think this is one of a very interesting and challenging topic.

      Yikes! Thank you kindly for the suggestion, but I’m quite happy with the Ph.D. I got from Cambridge in 1987. Doing another one would probably kill me. 😀

      To be continued….

    4. Further continuing my response to Danny Hilman:

      Nonetheless, my basic training is a geologist, not an archeologist. In my hypothesis (not a synthesis like you said): I proposed that the power of nature that can reset human population and culture has been being undermine. The suspected bottle neck in human population when Toba supervolcano erupted about 74 Ka is not my preposition but it is according to other people studies (you can search it). I only pointing out that the Toba-eruption even seems to be coincided with the timing of “Out of Africa even”, when people from Africa populate the world, or should we say RE-populate the world…?.

      Did I imply I thought the Toba bottleneck theory was your proposition? I’ve been following it since the 90s, when it was first proposed. In fact, the correlation between the Toba event and Out of Africa is controversial, and not that strong; there is evidence that calls into question the proposed post-Toba global climatic catastrophe; evidence that other human species long survived the effects of the eruption; evidence that pushes the founder population back as far as 100ka; and other possible explanations for the low level of genetic diversity in modern H. sapiens. As a hypothesis, the Toba bottleneck is a respectable contender, but it’s very far from being a slam-dunk.

      Don’t you think it is interesting to study further? Another suspected Global Catastrophic even and closer to us is the Younger Dryas (YD) even (12.9 ka – 11.6 Ka). I am well aware of debates and controversial about the cause of YD, but whatever the cause of this drastic-extreme global temperature changes it seems to be related to worldwide mass extinction of large animals like mammoth, stegodon etc.

      The consensus has moved towards “The Big Kill” as opposed to “The Big Chill” as the primary explanation for megafauna extinctions—which, in any case, started up to a millennium before the YD kicked off.

      Interestingly, almost no study about what happened to Homo Sapiens during YD even. We just believe that the rise of Homo Sapiens culture started after Younger Dryas. Before that we generally believe there is no advance culture.

      Again, you’re confusing “culture” with “civilization.” As for your claim of “almost no study”: there, in fact, is a huge literature about Late Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic/Mesolithic cultures worldwide—archaeological cultures that span the YD and show little direct effect from the YD climatic changes. I could point you to myriad area studies if you like, but there’s a nice recent compilation of conference papers on the subject that could be helpful, and its intro can even be read online.

      So, in short, I think it is legit if I proposed a hypothesis about taking into account the global natural catastrophic events in explaining human history; Hence, the development of human history may not be linear but cycles, terminated by global catastrophic events. You are asking about where the evidences? Oh come-on, are you serious? It is hypothesis that needs research. I am not developing this hypothesis if it is already proven (by enough evidences).

      You’re a scientist. You know that a hypothesis is supposed to make predictions, which can then be tested against the evidence to see whether it is supported or falsified. So ask yourself: what would your hypothesis predict? If I am understanding you correctly, it would predict not just the archaeological remains of multiple complex societies (“civilizations”) dated at intervals all the way back to the rise of H. sapiens, but also the remains of the less-complex societies leading up to these civilizations. That is, you would expect to see evidence of multiple Neolithics, tens of thousands of years apart, followed by multiple instances of complexification and the rise of state-organized societies. You would expect to see the genetic and paleobotanical evidence of whole different suites of domesticated plant and animal species, correlated with the above. You would expect to see evidence of large settled populations, showing up repeatedly in the distant past and then vanishing. Etc. All those patterns would be blindingly, glaringly obvious, yet somehow none of them appears in the archaeological record. Danny, if any of those patterns existed, we would have noticed them by now. Really. Your hypothesis fails abysmally in its predictions.

      /More to come

    5. Dear Rebecca,
      Now, I think we have interesting discussions here, highlighting different angles.
      Lets clarify a few things first. You said “You’re making the common mistake of confusing “culture” with “civilization.” Okay, but I think you understand what I mean is a our (advanced-complex) culture that was believed to have been initiated by agriculture around 11Ka.
      You said ” Your slide puts the population at zero in 3000 BCE (about 5 ka, as you state above) ” …The fact that a fallacious linear extrapolation will give us zero population at either 5 ka or 10 ka? Check out what archaeology demonstrates was happening in the world at those dates”. Okay, so what the current archeology believe about human population from now back to..say 5Ka, 10Ka or even 195 Ka?
      I am citing Harari, simply to highlight that it is not easy to really understand about “sudden agriculture revolution” in 11 Ka, and also about why population and cultures did not seems to be develop from 195 to 11 Ka. So, perhaps,we did not inventing agriculture in 11 Ka but re-inventing it. The beginning of our civilization (the rise of agriculture) is, whatever your believe, coincided perfectly with the end of Younger Dryas.
      You said “in fact, is a huge literature about Late Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic/Mesolithic cultures worldwide—archaeological cultures that span the YD and show little direct effect from the YD climatic changes. I could point you to myriad area studies if you like, but there’s a nice recent compilation of conference papers on the subject that could be helpful, and its intro can even be read online”. Is it really that there is enough evidence to show that YD didn’t significantly effect human? I would be grateful if you could give me that compilation of conference papers and else concerning YD and human story. I have tried digging literatures in the internet about the state of art of our knowledge concerning human (cultures) before, during and after YD but I found the data is very-very little…It is near to zero. So, what ever we believe now it isn’t based on enough (scientific) evidence , including mine.

      Cheers,
      Danny
      p.s. I am sorry, I thought you are doing (another) Ph.D study in archeology… I thought I read it in your blog…. What’s your Ph.D on from Cambridge by the way?

      1. You said ” Your slide puts the population at zero in 3000 BCE (about 5 ka, as you state above) ” …The fact that a fallacious linear extrapolation will give us zero population at either 5 ka or 10 ka? Check out what archaeology demonstrates was happening in the world at those dates”. Okay, so what the current archeology believe about human population from now back to..say 5Ka, 10Ka or even 195 Ka?

        Let me see. At 10ka, about 8000 BCE, Japan was moving into the Jomon phase, Gobekli Tepe was in use, the Americas had been colonized, food production was established in a number of areas. Global population estimates stand at 5-10 million. At 5ka, about 3000 BCE, Egypt had just unified and moved into the Pharaonic period, cities were rising in Mesopotamia, the Longshan phase was just starting in Northern China, the Neolithic was in full swing elsewhere. Global population estimates are from 14 million (McEvedy) to 45 million (Hyde). So what about that fallacious linear extrapolation?

        I am citing Harari, simply to highlight that it is not easy to really understand about “sudden agriculture revolution” in 11 Ka, and also about why population and cultures did not seems to be develop from 195 to 11 Ka.

        If that’s what you think Harari is saying, then you’re misreading him entirely. Note: cultures did develop, diversify, and proliferate in the Paleolithic, with an apparent burst of development from 40-50 thousand years ago. Cultures – not “civilizations.”

        So, perhaps,we did not inventing agriculture in 11 Ka but re-inventing it. The beginning of our civilization (the rise of agriculture) is, whatever your believe, coincided perfectly with the end of Younger Dryas.

        Domestication was a process, not an event. It began independently at different times in different places since deglaciation. I’ve already commented on what kind of evidence your hypothetical previous Neolithics should have left archaeologically; significantly, there is no trace of them. As for correlating with the end of the Younger Dryas: (a) the correlation is weak in the first place, and (b) correlation does not equal causation. There are many factors besides climate that would have an impact on where and why agriculture rose.
        I think you’re saying that the Younger Dryas wiped out civilization and majorly depopulated the planet—and then the survivors turned around and invented agriculture? Is that what you’re saying? If so, it’s not on, Danny. Food production and population rise go hand in hand; agriculture rises where populations are growing, not where they’ve been decimated .

        You said “in fact, is a huge literature about Late Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic/Mesolithic cultures worldwide—archaeological cultures that span the YD and show little direct effect from the YD climatic changes. I could point you to myriad area studies if you like, but there’s a nice recent compilation of conference papers on the subject that could be helpful, and its intro can even be read online”. Is it really that there is enough evidence to show that YD didn’t significantly effect human? I would be grateful if you could give me that compilation of conference papers and else concerning YD and human story. I have tried digging literatures in the internet about the state of art of our knowledge concerning human (cultures) before, during and after YD but I found the data is very-very little…It is near to zero. So, what ever we believe now it isn’t based on enough (scientific) evidence , including mine.

        I do apologize – the hyperlink to the conference papers was missing. I’ve added it above, in the original comment. The title is Hunter-Gatherer Behavior: Human Response During the Younger Dryas.

        I don’t know why you couldn’t find anything online for the periods you’re interested in learning about. Google gives 908,000 hits for Middle Paleolithic, 752,000 for Upper Paleolithic, 1,510,000 for Mesolithic, and 96,100 for Epipaleolithic. Again, an introductory archaeology text might be helpful; I’d suggest survey works by, say, Brian Fagan, Paul Bahn, or Michael Chazan, all of whom give good area coverage.

        p.s. I am sorry, I thought you are doing (another) Ph.D study in archeology… I thought I read it in your blog…. What’s your Ph.D on from Cambridge by the way?

        Nomads in the archaeological record. It’s very dull.

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