Author Topic: Ancient Jericho  (Read 2435 times)

Cramulus

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Ancient Jericho
« on: February 26, 2020, 04:41:55 pm »
Recently watched a super interesting documentary about the city of Jericho. It's one of the most ancient cities in the world, perhaps as old as 10,000 BC. TEN THOUSAND BC! The mind reels to even imagine it.

The earliest ruins of Jericho are these circular houses. It seems like an extended family lived in one house, and there was a time that the entire city consisted of these dwellings.

The dwellings are interesting for a few reasons - one is that they're all the same. There didn't seem to be any class differences back then, or at least, we haven't found any evidence of some people living better than others. The organizations of houses suggest that there were different "tribes" within the city. Maybe independent tribes chose to live near each other and share resources -- that might be what the city originally was.

The other interesting thing is that each house has its own grain storage area, which tells us that everybody had control over their own food. This isn't true of other ancient prehistoric cities - in many of them, food was alotted and labor was organized by the priest class, who lived in opulence compared to regular people.

Many other ancient fertile-crescent proto-cities probably started as religious sites. Hunter/gatherers and eventually farmers would travel to visit temples and attend ceremonies. Likely, this is where/when agricultural knowledge was exchanged. Priests lived off of tributes, and it's possible that the world's first Ruling Class was a product of religious authority and central organization.

Jericho was eventually taken over by old empire Egyptians. At that point in the archaeological record, you see a big lifestyle change - there are no more of the round houses, and you start seeing temples and palaces and the signs of central organization.


In my imagination, this represents a fork in the history of humanity. Maybe there was a time when we lived in happy anarchy, with no incentive to war on each other or serve a ruling class. I mean, I'm sure people still murdered each other, and tribes probably had rivalries, but there might not have been WAR in the sense that we know it. The original people of Jerico shared space, cooperated.

But this style of civilization is almost defenseless against an organized military. It is a classic human pattern--a disorganized group is easily coopted and subsumed by an organized one. If, today, you start a commune where everyone is equal, it can only last so long until power is concentrated and culture is imposed from above rather than generated from below.

Those round, familial houses weren't unique to the city of Jericho itself -- there are settlements throughout that region which belonged to that culture. Over time, they were all conquered by the Egyptians, and that mode of living vanished from the earth.



The whole thing reminds me of the Coordination Trap. Like, the world would be better off without armies, but if one group has an army, then everybody has to have one or be conquered.

Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy reminds me of it too -- the martian colonists are originally scientists, who share resources and do not operate on capitalist logic. But once capitalists arrive, money is in the system, everybody begins to operate with money, private property, resource hoarding.... to ignore money is to become "poor". Private capital has a huge advantage over peaceful cooperative anarchy. A society of givers is vulnerable takers.


don't get me wrong, I would never want to live in the ancient world


but maybe, just maybe, we got it right--and then lost it

Doktor Howl

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2020, 05:54:32 pm »
Given what we know about the old testament god, I can see why he had Jericho destroyed.
Molon Lube

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2020, 08:48:10 pm »
It seems like a sad thing that there was a state of such innocence that was lost, but on the other hand, if we hadn't lost it, I wouldn't get to know the joy of hating incels.

Honestly this kind of thing just keeps feeding back into my amazement that a lot of the myths our society is based on keep lining up allegorically with real events.
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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2020, 09:06:17 pm »
It seems like a sad thing that there was a state of such innocence that was lost, but on the other hand, if we hadn't lost it, I wouldn't get to know the joy of hating incels.

Honestly this kind of thing just keeps feeding back into my amazement that a lot of the myths our society is based on keep lining up allegorically with real events.

Myths only stop being accurate if human nature changes, really.
Molon Lube

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2020, 02:29:03 pm »
It seems like a sad thing that there was a state of such innocence that was lost, but on the other hand, if we hadn't lost it, I wouldn't get to know the joy of hating incels.

Honestly this kind of thing just keeps feeding back into my amazement that a lot of the myths our society is based on keep lining up allegorically with real events.

Myths only stop being accurate if human nature changes, really.
Boom..

Wait would that imply by extension that a change of mythology, properly applied, might likewise effect change in human nature?

Maybe our problem is shit stories, and storytellers.
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Cain

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2020, 02:50:20 pm »
As you may recall, this is the primary argument that I have with anarchists and left-libertarians. Even accepting the moral, political and economic arguments for anarchism, the big issue for me is always this: how do you protect utopia? It's one of the reasons I love Star Trek as a series: it tackles this issue head-on, instead of pretending it doesn't exist as an issue.

Any society that produces enough to left everyone live comfortably is, by definition, producing a surplus. A surplus will be coveted by neighbours, especially neighbours with a priest-class who have an opulent lifestyle but only so many resources to draw upon. If that lifestyle is ideologically orientated and your own people hear of it, it presents an even greater threat.

There are many examples of successful communities like this throughout history, but they all either ended up being crushed by more warlike, authoritarian neighbours, or were situated far enough away from threats to present significant logistical problems to invasion. Or by abandoning some of their own principles to organise and fight back effectively.

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2020, 02:53:50 pm »
As you may recall, this is the primary argument that I have with anarchists and left-libertarians. Even accepting the moral, political and economic arguments for anarchism, the big issue for me is always this: how do you protect utopia? It's one of the reasons I love Star Trek as a series: it tackles this issue head-on, instead of pretending it doesn't exist as an issue.

Any society that produces enough to left everyone live comfortably is, by definition, producing a surplus. A surplus will be coveted by neighbours, especially neighbours with a priest-class who have an opulent lifestyle but only so many resources to draw upon. If that lifestyle is ideologically orientated and your own people hear of it, it presents an even greater threat.

There are many examples of successful communities like this throughout history, but they all either ended up being crushed by more warlike, authoritarian neighbours, or were situated far enough away from threats to present significant logistical problems to invasion. Or by abandoning some of their own principles to organise and fight back effectively.

Sic
You can't get out backward.  You have to go forward to go back.. better press on! - Willie Wonka, PBUH

Life can be seen as a game with no reset button, no extra lives, and if the power goes out there is no restarting.  If that's all you see life as you are not long for this world, and never will get it.

"Ayn Rand never swung a hammer in her life and had serious dominance issues" - The Fountainhead

"World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."
 - Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality :lulz:

"You program the controller to do the thing, only it doesn't do the thing.  It does something else entirely, or nothing at all.  It's like voting."
- Billy, Aug 21st, 2019

"It's not even chaos anymore. It's BANAL."
- Doktor Hamish Howl

Doktor Howl

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2020, 03:03:49 pm »
It seems like a sad thing that there was a state of such innocence that was lost, but on the other hand, if we hadn't lost it, I wouldn't get to know the joy of hating incels.

Honestly this kind of thing just keeps feeding back into my amazement that a lot of the myths our society is based on keep lining up allegorically with real events.

Myths only stop being accurate if human nature changes, really.
Boom..

Wait would that imply by extension that a change of mythology, properly applied, might likewise effect change in human nature?

Maybe our problem is shit stories, and storytellers.

Only if the backswing of a hammer pulls a nail back out.
Molon Lube

Cramulus

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2020, 03:40:36 pm »
It seems like a sad thing that there was a state of such innocence that was lost, but on the other hand, if we hadn't lost it, I wouldn't get to know the joy of hating incels.

Honestly this kind of thing just keeps feeding back into my amazement that a lot of the myths our society is based on keep lining up allegorically with real events.

Myths only stop being accurate if human nature changes, really.
Boom..

Wait would that imply by extension that a change of mythology, properly applied, might likewise effect change in human nature?

Maybe our problem is shit stories, and storytellers.

not human nature, but imagination

I think that a clear vision, a strong symbol, has frequently steered civilization


to that end, let me talk about the Tower of Jericho.



This tower is old as balls--probably 11,000 years old. It may actually be one of the first towers that humans ever built. Measuring 8.5 meters (28 feet) tall, it sits on the edge of one of the original city walls.

Originally thought to be either a defense, or a runoff spot for flood control, current archaeologists think it probably served a more symbolic purpose.

https://www.jpost.com/Video-Articles/Video/Worlds-first-skyscraper-sought-to-intimidate-masses

Quote
Barkai and fellow archaeologist Roy Liran used computers to reconstruct sunsets and found that when the tower was built the nearby mountains cast a shadow on it as the sun set on the longest day of the year. The shadow fell exactly on the structure and then spread out to cover the entire village.

“The tower is an indication of power struggles at the beginning of the Neolithic period and of the fact that a particular person or people exploited the primeval fears of the residents and persuaded them to build it,” Barkai told The Media Line.

Barkai said architecture designed to awe and inspire, and without any obviously functional purpose, isn’t unique to the megalithic period. Even today, governments erect monuments like the Arc de Triomphe to influence public opinion and enhance their standing.

The period when the tower was built was a time when people started to put down literal roots by abandoning hunting and gathering and taking up farming. But, according to Barkai, people didn’t make the transition easily because farming was actually a harder way of life.

“This was a time when hierarchy began and leadership was established. This was the time that social formations took place and many scientists have wondered why people were moved to produce food, to make the transition to agriculture,” Barkai said. “Agriculture worked for the benefit of certain individuals in the community, because people produce surplus that was stored and then divided by individuals.”

 “It has been proven that people worked much harder during the Neolithic period than before. It was easier to live by hunting and gathering so we believe this tower was one of the mechanisms to motivate people to take part in a communal lifestyle,” he said.

Mysteriously, the tower was built on the outskirts of town and not as part of the fortifications of the city, which was the world’s first.

A tower was something so alien to their conceptual world of the builders, who had probably never seen or could conceive of such a building, that it must have served more than a defensive purpose, Barkai reckoned.

He backed this up with historical records indicating that no invaders were present in the area at the time it was built, about 8300 BC.  According to archaeological estimates, it took about 11,000 working days to build it.

“It is something out of time and place and looks like it doesn’t belong where it was. It was a monumental effort to build, like the pyramids [built 5,000 years later], only among a village of former hunters and gatherers,” Barkai said.


So, this guy thinks that the tower was a spectacle, something never seen before -- and its purpose was to shock people into consideirng a big change, to join something new. Look at what we could be, if we worked together.


Hunter/Gatherer lifestyle had been going on since the dawn of humanity -- we didn't know anything else. It wouldn't have been an easy transition at all. Perhaps the tower demonstrated, to the uncertain, that we do know when the Solstice is going to happen. We know when to plant, when to harvest. Join us.


Cramulus

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2020, 04:31:10 pm »
just a small amendment -- in the 90s, some archaeologists found a few towers that are around 2000 years older than Jericho's tower (so, distinctly pre-agriculture), but they were much smaller. http://thedailyjournalist.com/the-historian/unknown-civilizations-tell-qaramel/

They were found at Tell Qaramel, near Aleppo (in Syria). Probably served religious functions. We've only excavated 2% of that site, but archaeology is on hold because Syria is not exactly a nice vacation spot right now.


as a side note, these "Natufian Culture" sites are where we find the oldest evidence of domesticated dogs.

Cain

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2020, 04:37:09 pm »
Quote
archaeology is on hold because Syria is not exactly a nice vacation spot right now.

Pffft, everyone knows it's not real field work unless you're carrying an automatic rifle and a pistol in your belt.

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2020, 04:43:36 pm »
It seems like a sad thing that there was a state of such innocence that was lost, but on the other hand, if we hadn't lost it, I wouldn't get to know the joy of hating incels.

Honestly this kind of thing just keeps feeding back into my amazement that a lot of the myths our society is based on keep lining up allegorically with real events.

Myths only stop being accurate if human nature changes, really.
Boom..

Wait would that imply by extension that a change of mythology, properly applied, might likewise effect change in human nature?

Maybe our problem is shit stories, and storytellers.

Only if the backswing of a hammer pulls a nail back out.

Aw shit. You're right. Fuck.
You can't get out backward.  You have to go forward to go back.. better press on! - Willie Wonka, PBUH

Life can be seen as a game with no reset button, no extra lives, and if the power goes out there is no restarting.  If that's all you see life as you are not long for this world, and never will get it.

"Ayn Rand never swung a hammer in her life and had serious dominance issues" - The Fountainhead

"World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."
 - Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality :lulz:

"You program the controller to do the thing, only it doesn't do the thing.  It does something else entirely, or nothing at all.  It's like voting."
- Billy, Aug 21st, 2019

"It's not even chaos anymore. It's BANAL."
- Doktor Hamish Howl

The Wizard Joseph

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2020, 04:55:05 pm »
Speaking of ancient, barely excavated but compelling finds anyone ever heard of Gobekli Tepe? It's in Turkey iirc. Very worth looking up. Incredibly ancient site of monolithic circles all carved bas relief, before the known bronze age for chisels, and really you would need Iron chisels and A LOT of time, and chisels, to make the carvings. But what is carved is the real mystery.  :fnord:
You can't get out backward.  You have to go forward to go back.. better press on! - Willie Wonka, PBUH

Life can be seen as a game with no reset button, no extra lives, and if the power goes out there is no restarting.  If that's all you see life as you are not long for this world, and never will get it.

"Ayn Rand never swung a hammer in her life and had serious dominance issues" - The Fountainhead

"World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."
 - Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality :lulz:

"You program the controller to do the thing, only it doesn't do the thing.  It does something else entirely, or nothing at all.  It's like voting."
- Billy, Aug 21st, 2019

"It's not even chaos anymore. It's BANAL."
- Doktor Hamish Howl

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2020, 06:09:16 pm »
Quote
archaeology is on hold because Syria is not exactly a nice vacation spot right now.

Pffft, everyone knows it's not real field work unless you're carrying an automatic rifle and a pistol in your belt.

And punching Nazis.

rong

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Re: Ancient Jericho
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2020, 07:28:18 pm »
this lecture:

How to Enjoy the End of the World

does a very nice job putting civilizational advancement in terms of what the lecturer describes as "EROI" or "Energy Return On Investment"

a society will collapse with EROI below 1

a hunter-gatherer society has an EROI of 1.5

agricultural settlement has an EROI of 4

an agricultural empire has an EROI of 6

however *Conquest* can double your current EROI

with fossil fuels, modern civilization has en EROI of about 20
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