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Glimpses of History #12: Judaism

Judaism is a monotheistic, scriptural religious conviction that evolved from the religion of ancient Israel during the Second Temple period (516 BCE–70 CE.)

Two fundamental beliefs shaped the attitude of Judaism toward nature and toward the systematic study of nature (that is to say, science):

  1. that God is the creator of the universe
  2. that God revealed God’s will in the form of Law—the Torah (literally “instruction”)—to the chosen people, Israel.

Judaism: History, Belief and Practice

Biblical accounts and archaeological findings are roughly in agreement: there were once two adjoining kingdoms, Judah in the south and Israel to the north, sharing the same monotheistic belief. Whether, as the Bible asserts, Judah fell on account of tolerance of other gods is unidentified: modern thinking is that it was a vassal state of Assyria. As a result, Babylon’s king Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Judah’s capital, Jerusalem (and its temple) around 600 BCE, with a fraction of its inhabitants taken into captivity. This separation motivated the formalization of the Tanakh, Jewish scriptures: much had already been written, but the canon was set at this period and shows signs of Babylonian cultural domination.

Much of the populace, though, had been left in Israel, causing dispute when Persian conqueror Cyrus the Great took Babylon and allowed the exiles to return to the Levant and rebuild their temple. Subsequently, Israel and Yehud (past Judah) would become more and more self-reliant, gaining independence again in the second century BCE under the Maccabees (the Selucid empire, who had succeeded the Babylonians, were failing). After the celebrated general Pompey invaded in 63 BCE, the area became Roman.

Following a great Jewish revolt, the second temple was destroyed in the Roman sack of Jerusalem in 70 CE, but Jewish opposition to the Roman empire continued sporadically until 136 BCE, when the Bar Koziba rebellion against the aggressively antisemitic Emperor Hadrian led to the disbanding of Israel and the Diaspora (pan-European migration of Jews). Others had moved eastwards in Roman times, becoming convenient contacts for the Abbasid caliphate and Convivencia-era Spain, and later Venice and the Ottoman empire.

Talmudic observations and rabbinical lore would become vital foundations of a faith without a homeland. Christianity, for the meantime, was regarded as an derivative of Judaism until Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea in CE 325.

As Europe adopted Christianity, emigrant Jews became opportune all-purpose hate-figures; the Black Death was blamed on them and Tsarist pogroms forced many from east Europe and Russia to America and east London in the late 19th century. This movement, culminating in the Holocaust, led to the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

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Yes Minister Christmas Special Sketch: “Christmas at the Ministry”

Yes Minister Christmas Special Sketch: Christmas at the Ministry

A two-minute Christmas-themed television sketch, featuring Paul Eddington as the Rt Hon. Jim Hacker, Nigel Hawthorne as Sir Humphrey Appleby, and Derek Fowlds as Bernard Woolley, was broadcasted on BBC One as part of a Christmas special named The Funny Side of Christmas.

Sir Humphrey has a special end-of-year message for the Minister, delivered in what is even by his standards an especially circumlocutory style. His message is transcribed here:

Jim Hacker: Are there more, Bernard?

Bernard Woolley: Before you go home for the holiday, Minister, Sir Humphrey has something to say to you.

Sir Humphrey: Oh thank you, Bernard. Minister, just one thing. I wonder if I might crave your momentary indulgence in order to discharge a by no means disagreeable obligation which has, over the years, become more or less established practice within government circles as we approach the terminal period of the year, calendar, of course, not financial, in fact, not to put too fine a point on it, Week Fifty-One, and submit to you, with all appropriate deference, for your consideration at a convenient juncture, a sincere and sanguine expectation, indeed confidence, indeed one might go so far as to say hope, that the aforementioned period may be, at the end of the day, when all relevant factors have been taken into consideration, susceptible of being deemed to be such as to merit a final verdict of having been by no means unsatisfactory in its overall outcome and, in the final analysis, to give grounds for being judged, on mature reflection, to have been conducive to generating a degree of gratification which will be seen in retrospect to have been significantly higher than the general average.

Jim Hacker: What’s he talking about?

Bernard Woolley: Well, Minister, I think Sir Humphrey just wanted to crave your momentary indulgence in order to discharge a by no means disagreeable obligation…

Jim Hacker: Alright, alright, Bernard! Hum…but Humphrey…

Sir Humphrey: At the end of the day, Minister, all due things being considered…

Jim Hacker: Hum…don’t, don’t, just forget the…

Sir Humphrey: Yes, Minister?

Jim Hacker: Are you saying “Happy Christmas”?

Sir Humphrey: Yes, Minister!

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Glimpses of History #11: Unified Egypt

History of Unified Ancient Egypt

In one of the most important occurrences in the history of Africa, the first steps toward food production were initiated in its northeast corner. The area, now occupied by Egypt and Sudan, was the ground for initial attempts to keep cattle from an African stock. It was also the area that hosted the beginnings of cultivating cereals and of herding sheep and goats introduced from Southwest Asia.

Once agriculture arrived from Mesopotamia, Egyptian civilization evolved rapidly. It centered around the predictable regular flooding of the Nile River, which provided both irrigation and fertile silt. The Pharoah, treated as a living god, was thought to ensure both sunrise and river tides through various rites, recorded in hieroglyphic (‘priest-script’) texts. Two major kingdoms established: Lower Egypt around the Nile Delta, and Upper Egypt, bordering Sudan. Traditionally, the two were unified by the Pharaoh Menes around 3000 BCE. Menes founded Egypt’s First Dynasty (of 31 in total). Shortly afterwards, a new capital, Memphis, was built. Dynasties came and went recurrently, with major regional conflicts and civil wars defining the Old, Middle and New Kingdom periods.

The first step pyramid, built by the brilliant architect Imhotep about 2630 BCE, was a natural progression of the mastaba tombs—Khufu’s Great Pyramid, built a thousand years later, is the sole survivor of Herodotus’s Seven Wonders of the World.

Rituals and Rites of Ancient Egypt

The beginning of kings and chiefs was linked to the development of a belief in cosmic forces responsible for the generation (birth) and regeneration (resurrection) of life. Cows, already sacred in the African Sahara as indicated by elaborate cow burials, became life-giving deities, and kings became identified with bulls. The iconography of deities on decorated Nagada II pottery showed the cow goddess at the top of the palette associated with Narmer (5,000 BCE), the founder of a unified Egypt. Cows ultimately came to represent many of the earliest Egyptian goddesses, who were symbols of birth, nurturing, and protection. Local political centers in the Nile Valley were, moreover, identified with local cult standards and centers. Many of these centers developed into towns with large graveyards.

Pyramid building was a prominent characteristic of the Old Kingdom. The first pyramid was the Step Pyramid at Sakkara, built by King Djoser (c. 2667-2640 BCE) in the Third Dynasty, the first example of a pyramid and also of monumental architecture in stone. The Step Pyramid Complex developed out of the earlier royal burials at Abydos, where a squared mound covered the burial and a separate, large, rectangular enclosure provided space for royal rituals. By the Fourth Dynasty, the stepped pyramid had developed into a true pyramid, as seen best in the famous pyramids at Giza.

In the Fifth Dynasty, pyramid building persisted, although on a much reduced scale. Rather than a massive pyramid protecting the king’s body for his afterlife, each Fifth Dynasty king also built a sun temple complex, connecting his afterlife with the eternal cycle of the sun. By the time of the Sixth Dynasty, pyramid texts carved in the burial chambers of the royal pyramids guaranteed that the king awakened from death and joined the gods in heaven.

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Temples on the Panaromic Hemakuta Hill, Hampi, Capital of the Vijayanagara Empire

Panaromic Hemakuta Hill, Hampi

Hemakuta, literally meaning gold hillock, is one of the most charming hillocks in Hampi. It is dotted by over fifty structures of different types—including temples, mandapas, galleries, and gateways of various dimensions.

Though Hampi itself is characterized as a garden of boulders, the Hemakuta hill takes a major share in this compliment. Every boulder here tells a story of mythological and folk nature and takes the visitor to an era of religion and romance. Shiva and Parvati become closer to the visitor at this hill and it gives a rare experience of unalloyed joy.

Actually, it is a fortified area, which has three entrances in east, north, and south. Originally, some of the temples of this hill were taken to be Jain basadis but now it has been proved beyond doubt that they are Shaiva temples. In fact all the temples of this area are Shaivite ones. Another point of interest is some of these temples were built in the fourteenth century (early Vijayanagara period).

Mythological and Folk History of Hemakuta Hill, Hampi

Located to the south of the famous Virupaksha temple, which has one of the tallest gopuras (170 ft), the other temples at Hemakuta are smaller ones and one can easily see a contrast. Thus, there is might and elegance side by side on this hillock.

Another interesting feature of this area is the presence of one celled (ekakuta), double celled (dvikuta) and three celled (trikuta) temples near to each other. These temples though small in dimensions arrest our attention by the northern type (nagara) sikharas almost in a cluster.

Ekakuta, Dvikuta, Trikuta - Celled Temples in Hemakuta Hill, Hampi

  • A ekakuta temple has a garbhagriha, antarala and a navaranga. The navaranga has kakshasana (stone bench) on the three sides. It is a granite temple with Kadamba Nagara sikhara.
  • The twin temple has two garbhagrihas, two antaralas and two navarangas with two entrances. The sikharas belong to a type called Kalinga Nagara. It was built by Kampilaraya of Kummatadurga.
  • The third temple is a trikuta (three celled) and it was built by Kampilaraya, son of Mummadi Singeya Nayaka. It has three garbhagrihas in three directions, with a common navaranga and a mandapa. Nearby is another trikuta temple also built by Kampilaraya.

Shaiva Architecture of Panaromic Hemakuta Hill, Hampi

All the garbhagrihas originally had Shivalingas. Thus, the Hemakuta hill presents a panoramic view of Shaiva architecture of a unique type.

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Glimpses of History #10: Babylon

City of Babylon is the capital of Babylonia

Notwithstanding its lack of native stone or wood, Mesopotamia gave rise to noteworthy empires from crowded cities such as Babylon, Ur, Jericho, Samara and later Nineveh. Many of these empires are remembered as tyrannical (though of course records such as the Bible are history written by the vanquished).

Babylon was an important city-state of ancient Mesopotamia. Its remains can be found just south of Baghdad in present-day Iraq. Founded as a relatively small town around the beginning of the third millennium BCE, Babylon has been at the center of the rise and fall of a number of important dynasties and empires, including the Amorite, Hittite, Kassite, and Assyrian.

The City of Babylon is the capital of Babylonia and one of the most famous cities of antiquity. The ruins of the ancient city lie about 60 miles south of Baghdad, near the Hilla Canal of the Euphrates.

Ishtar Gate, Eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon Founded by Sumu-abum in 1894 BCE, Babylon rose to imperial status under Hammurabi (1792–1750 BCE). Many features of later cities developed here: written law, schools, taxes, shops and traffic: wheels, initially used for pottery, were now so common on carts that roads were purpose-built. The Babylonian number system, based on divisions of 60, is still at the center of our systems of geometry and timekeeping. Babylon ruled Mesopotamia for over a century, and later (after conquest by the Hittites, and Assyrian rule) was growing under Nebuchadnezzar II (634-562 BCE), when it attacked Egypt and sacked Jerusalem, Tyre and Nineveh. The reassembled city and Hanging Gardens persisted for centuries.

The earliest mention of Babylon comes from the time of the Dynasty of Akkad (2360—2180 BCE). The city of Babylon was well known to Greek and Roman historians. The Greek historian Herodotus, who may have visited the city in the fifth century BCE (or based his account on the reports of observers), wrote that “it surpasses in splendor any city of the known world.” Classical authors also credited Babylon with one of the ancient wonders of the world: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Babylonian Captivity is the detention of the Israelites in Babylon, lasting from their deportation by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 bc until their release by Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE. It is taken as a type of grieving exile.

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Glimpses of History #9: Mesopotamia

Mesopotamian Civilization in the Tigris and Euphrates Valley

As the term is now used, Mesopotamia describes the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates spreading from the Kurdish foothills in the north to the Persian Gulf in the south.

The Tigris and Euphrates rivers rise in the Taurus and Zagros mountains (modern-day Turkey and Iraq’s Mosul region), flowing southeast to meet near Basra. The area between their near-parallel stretches was reliably fertile amid the surrounding desert, and gives rise to the Greek name ‘Mesopotamia’. 10,000-year-old pottery from the region traces the southward movement of settled farms as the climate altered. The Neolithic discovery of mutant grasses with distended seeds that were easier to separate from their plants soon led to deliberate cultivation. Emmer wheat, rye, barley and flax were selectively bred (though whether farmers realized this is debatable) and planted in oxen-ploughed fields. The advent of bronze made ploughing and harvesting less labor-intensive.

The need to predict and, to some extent, control water and crops tended towards priests, dynastic kings and permanent farms specializing in single crops. Similar processes occurred in the Indus valley of India and the Yellow River in China (where the staple cereal was early rice). As rice reached Mesopotamia and India, while bronze reached China, it is tempting to assume some exchanges took place, but the pattern of development may be coincidence. Mesoamerica followed a similar pattern, also apparently independently. Townships became more durable and fortified: Susa, in Iran, and Ur, near the confluence of the rivers, were cities by c.4400 BCE. Their bounty had to be recorded and protected, requiring both clerks and armies.

Mesopotamia

The most notable achievement of the Akkad Dynasty (2360—2180 B.C.) was the creation of the first world empire, and for this reason the Sargonids lived on in legend, not only in Sumerian and Akkadian, but also in Hurrian, Hittite, and Elamite.

The earliest tallies were recorded as impressions in soft clay, from which the earliest known alphabets and arithmetic developed around 3100 BCE—written ‘bustrophedon’ alternated left-to-right and right-to-left, as a plough does in a field. Pictographic notes, running top-to -bottom, predate these. The written form of the Sumerian language, transcribed as if spoken, begins c.2600 BCE; edicts and chronicles are accompanied by myths such as the Epic of Gilgamesh. The script takes decades to learn, suggesting that it was limited to a specialized cadre (including women, to begin with). Many other specialists, notably architecture, carving, brewing and metallurgy, can also be identified. One tantalizing detail: a female tavern-keeper, Kug-Bau, is listed as king of Sumer after 2500 BCE, and later recognized with various mother-goddesses.

Ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq), one of the world’s longest (almost three thousand years old) and influential civilizations, remains the most concentrated archaeological site on Earth, a fact that incited outcry from researchers at the outset of the 1991 bombing of the Persian Gulf known as Operation Desert Storm. Throughout the history of Mesopotamia, its people interacted vigorously with their neighbors, warring, trading, migrating, and sharing ideas.

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History and Architecture of the Virupaksha (Pampapathi) Temple, Hampi, Capital of the Vijayanagara Empire

History and Architecture of the Virupaksha Pampapathi Temple, Hampi

Sri Virupaksha or Pampapathi was the family deity of the early Vijayanagara kings and this was incorporated even in their sign manual as found in copper plate inscriptions.

Maharangamandapa of Virupaksha Pampapathi Temple, Hampi

Situated on the southern bank of Tungabhadra river, the original temple with Virupaksha Sivalinga was perhaps first consecrated in the twelfth century A.D. With the establishment of the Vijayanagara kingdom additions were made twice. The first addition of a sabhamandapa took place during the period of King Mallikarjuna in the middle of the fifteenth century A.D. The second addition of a maharangamandapa took place during the period of Krishnadevaraya in 1510 A.D., to commemorate his coronation in 1509 A.D.

Dravidian Temple Architecture of Virupaksha Pampapathi Temple, Hampi

The temple consists of a garbhagriha, antarala, sabhamandapa, and a maharangamandapa. The square garbhagriha has a Shiva Linga. It has a Dravidian type of sikhara with a kalasha on the top. The square sabhamandapa has four central pillars and sculptures of gods and goddesses of which Bedara Kannapp, Kiratarjuniya, Bhairava are important. It has two entrances at the north and south.

Balustraded Elephants of Virupaksha Pampapathi Temple, Hampi The maharangamandapa added by Krishnadevaraya contains 38 pillars with entrances on three sides with flights of steps decorated with balustraded elephants.

The pillars contain relief sculptures of Ramayana and Mahabharata. The ceilings have paintings of Tripurantaka, Parvati Kalyana, procession of Vidyaranya, etc. There are also stucco figures of Parvati Kalyana, Kalarimurti, Mahishamardini, etc.

Krishnadevaraya renovated the main eastern gopura, which is 170 feet in height, and it dominates the entire area. This main mahadvara or the gateway with its Dravidian gopura rises in ten diminishing tiers and is famous as ‘hiriya gopura’, meaning a huge gopura.

This gopura has many stucco figures and decorative elements. The Bhuvaneshwari shrine contains beautifully executed Chalukyan doorway and Chalukyan pillars of the twelfth century A.D.

Doorway and Chalukyan Pillars of Virupaksha Pampapathi Temple, Hampi

As this is a living temple, devotees throng the portals of this temple to worship at the shrine of the sacred Virupaksha linga and to see the remnants of the Vijayanagara architecture and sculpture.

Worship at the Shrine of the Sacred Virupaksha Linga in Virupaksha Pampapathi Temple, Hampi

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Glimpses of History #8: Bronze Age and Iron Age

Bronze Age and Iron Age

While many Neolithic cultures continued to use stone tools, they also developed copper and ultimately bronze metallurgy, leading early scholars to coin the term “Chalcolithic” (copper-stone) to distinguish them from earlier Neolithic and Paleolithic cultures.

The earliest manufactured alloy, bronze is made with copper and tin ores (and consequently required trade with remote ore-producing regions). Gold and copper had formerly been smelted, mainly for decorative purposes, but bronze tools and weapons outlived and outperformed stone. From circa 3500 CE, their use spread from Mesopotamia, with separate cultures amending recipes and techniques. The later discovery of similar techniques in the Americas seems unconnected.

Bronze age is the epoch between the human cultural development between the Neolithic period and the discovery of iron-working techniques (the Iron Age). In Mesopotamia, bronze tools were used from c.3200 BCE and the Bronze Age lasted until c.1100 BCE. In Britain, bronze was used after 2000 BCE and iron technology did not become prevalent until c.500 BCE.

Ireland had rich sources of copper ores, specifically in the southwest, which were recognizable by these early prospectors, and which resulted in the development of a significant copper- and later, bronze-working industry. In Britain and Ireland the beginning of the Bronze Age is marked by the appearance of metalworking, new burial practices, and an growth in trade and exchange.

Bronze Age and Iron Age Tools and swords that outlived their owners made inheritance and theft possible, and as cities developed, so did professional armies. Fields could be ploughed and harrowed, and older clay and wax technologies were put to use in metal casting. Early experiments with iron ore produced a brittle, corroding metal, but around 610 BCE, climate changes triggered mass migrations that made local iron ore mining in Europe easier than importing tin. Elsewhere, notably in Japan and southern Africa, bronze and iron arrived more or less concurrently.

From about 700 BCE a steady change from a mainly bronze-working economy to one based on the use of iron as the preferred metal took place. These changes were intense and irreversible, affecting all aspects of society. Ultimately, iron replaced bronze as the preferred metal for the production of tools and weapons, and bronze was restricted mostly to objects of a more decorative nature.

The working of iron was introduced, probably from Asia Minor (modern day Turkey,) into southeastern Europe around 1000 BCE, and into central Europe by the 8th—7th centuries BCE. The European Iron Age has conventionally been divided into two phases, named after type-sites at Hallstatt in Austria and La Tene in Switzerland. In areas conquered by the Romans the ‘Iron Age’ is succeeded by the ‘Roman’ period. Contemporary cultures outside the empire are designated as being of the ‘Roman Iron Age’. From about 400 CE these periods are succeeded by the migration period.

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How England’s “Once Brewed” Hostel Near Hadrian’s Wall Got Its Name

Hadrians

Hadrian’s Wall—Roman Fortification

Hadrian’s Wall, near the Scottish border in northern England, was a continuous 20-foot-tall Roman fortification that guarded the northwestern frontier of the province of Britain from barbarian invaders.

Hadrian’s Wall extended from coast to coast across the width of northern Britain. The wall was built to control native movements across the frontier and for surveillance.

Emperor Hadrian, who ruled from 117 CE to 138 CE went to Britain in 122 CE and, in the words of his biographer, “was the first to build a wall, 80 miles long, to separate the Romans from the barbarians.” At every mile of the wall, a castle guarded a gate, and two turrets stood between each castle.

The flat-bottomed trench on the south side of the wall, called the vallum, was flanked by earthen ramparts and probably delineated a “no-man’s land” past which civilians were not allowed to pass. Between the vallum and the wall ran a service road called the Military Way. Another less-sophisticated trench ran along the north side of the wall.

Hadrians

Today, many portions of the wall, ruined forts, and museums delight history enthusiasts. Hadrian’s Wall is in vogue as a destination for multi-day hikes through the pastoral English countryside. The Hadrian’s Wall National Trail runs 84 miles, following the wall’s route from coast to coast. Through-hikers can walk the wall’s entire length in four to ten days.

In 1987 Hadrian’s Wall was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over the centuries, many sections of the wall have suffered damage caused by roads traversing it and by the plunder of its stones to build nearby houses and other structures. The best-preserved section runs along the Whin Sill towards the fort at Housesteads.

Northumberland National Park Centre

Youth Hostel Association “Once Brewed” and “Twice Brewed” at Hadrian’s Wall

YHA Once Brewed can be found on The Military Road (B6318) which runs parallel with the A69. B6318 trails Hadrian’s Wall for much of its length and the views over the rural area are dazzling. The YHA Once Brewed hostel is easily identified, the car park is just off the main road, and beside the Northumberland National Park Centre.

Folklore has it that when General Wade was building his military road to help deter anymore of the hostile Scottish Jacobite raiders, it is alleged that he got thirsty—and quite rightly so! So stopping for a swift ale at a convenient pub he was thrown in a terrible rage at the sheer lack of strength of the brew. The ale had been brewed in a typically northeastern way and he deemed it far too weak. Calling the landlord he raged: “this is extremely weak and undrinkable” whilst pointing to the offending pint he made the simple treat “I’ll be back here in a week’s time, I want the beer to be brewed again, or it’s the gallows for you!”

Twice Brewed Inn

So the landlord duly trembled, re-brewed the ale and satisfied the returning general a week later. The episode had progressed into a local (and slightly manufactured) legend, the military road is now romantically entitled the B6318, and however the pub next door is clinging onto the heritage and is named “Twice Brewed”

Youth Hostel Association “Once Brewed” Hostel at Hadrian’s Wall

In 1934 the Youth Hostels Association (the English- and Welsh-nonprofit that provides youth hostel accommodation in England and Wales) came along and converted a farmhouse into a hostel. Looking for a name they saw the pub enticingly next door, and with a gigantic leap of imagination called the new hostel “Once Brewed: opened by lady Trevelyan of Wallington Hall, a lifelong teetotaler she remarked “that shall only serve nothing but tea and that would be brewed once only.”

Youth Hostel Association 'Once Brewed' Hostel at Hadrian's Wall

That may not be anything like the real story however, (there are versions at least of the local legend, which gives the pub its name, normally involving roman wall builders pictish raiders instead of irate generals.)

“Twice Brewed” and Northumbrian Dialect

“Twice Brewed” probably derives from Northumbrian dialect, which means between two hills, or brews something, believed to be from drovers bringing the cattle down from the north looking for a gap between the two “brews” to shelter in.

Nevertheless, one fact is for definite: “Once Brewed” is only called “Once Brewed” because it’s next door to “Twice Brewed!”

Once Brewed - YHA Hostel

Before Twice Brewed was the pub, “East Twice Brewed” was the pub’s name, before that there was “West Twice Brewed,” and before that they all brewed their own (until the revenue men came along.)

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Glimpses of History #7: Neolithic Expansion and Indo-European Migration

Neolithic expansion and Indo-European Migration

At the end of the last ice age, humanity entered a epoch of increasing technological sophistication. For reasons that are still debated, many of the large mammals hunted by humans became extinct, driving the development of new food sources: breadmaking considerably predates this period, but people in Mesopotamia now began cultivating wild cereal and pulses. Dogs had been domesticated over thousands of years; nomadic shepherding became possible through domestication of goats, sheep, horses, camels and, above all, cows.

In the Neolithic period farm animals were first domesticated and agriculture was introduced: it began in the Near East by the 8th millennium BC and spread to northern Europe by the 4th millennium BC. Neolithic societies in NW Europe left such monuments as causewayed camps, henges, long barrows, and chambered tombs

By 5000 BCE, livestock herding was sufficiently established to allow a widespread abandonment of hunter-gathering in favor of settled lifestyles. Pottery was increasingly useful, and permanent buildings, constructed from mudbrick, appeared. These technologies spread out of the Middle East through the Old World (the Americas developed agriculture independently, with only the llama available for domestication). With the arrival of bronze, stone was used less for tools and more for buildings.

The majority of the peoples of Europe and a substantial portion of the present and ancient peoples of western Asia speak closely related languages that all belong to the Indo-European language family. European colonial expansions and the spread of Euro-American culture have been so successful that nearly half the population of the planet now speaks an Indo-European language. Yet the place where this language family originated and the course of its earliest migrations have been topics of heated and inconclusive debate for more than two centuries.

The problem of Indo-European origins and migrations has been a major challenge to prehistorians, and the failure to develop a single fully convincing model is a salutary caution to anyone interested in tracing the path of migrations in the archaeological record. If increased doubt is the result of the type of intense discussion that tracing the roots of the Indo-Europeans has occasioned, then this does not bode well for many other hypothesized migrations that have seen far less scrutiny.

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