Premonitions of Revolt

The following is a collection of thoughts I was sensing in August, and blogged accordingly. I toss this in the mix because of the current geo-political strife. And to let you decide if it was on or off.

War, what’s it good for?
In essays, writing on August 30, 2010 at 1:42 am

[insert globe reel]

Throughout human history, shifts to new technical epochs were inspired by war. How do we know? Researchers are confirming this trend with a new discovery. The latest ‘virgin’ find of untainted evidence revealed itself as an ancient Peruvian city found in the desolate western plains at Caral.

[cue gleeful archeologist]

As civilizations grow, they build on top of themselves and destroy evidence of earlier ones. Astounded archeos can now analyze an untainted city-specimen, one of the first developed by humanity, and potentially answer one of the most daunting questions to perplex researchers: What spurred human actions to become a civilization? In 2004, Dr. Ruth Shady, University of San Marcos, explored the desert on a hunch and rumors of uniformity in the landscape. With a trained eye, she saw the anomalies—a city’s worth. Pyramids as significant as the Giza monuments protruded in an area notorious for non-existent life support.

[cue ticked Egyptologist]

Today, the ruins at Caral discovered by Dr. Shady are considered the legacy of early Inca ancestors, far before the golden days of Machu Picchu. How could this 5000 year old society, centered around 2,627 BC, spring out of small, nomadic groups to suddenly develop metallurgy, masonry, pottery, calendars, mathematics, astrology, and the construction of megaliths? Archeologists found a spontaneous civilization now extinct. Yet at its peak, Caral attained what many other civilizations never achieved. They became a successful, urban, enterprise.

Something kick-started the people at Caral to develop a phenomenal world. The consensus among many archeologists lies in what the culture left behind—in writing. Hieroglyphics, symbolism, and ancient script pepper the earliest building blocks. And the topic? War.

[cue bloody melee]

The worn vignettes are clear enough in meaning. The locals had priorities: fear, gathering weapons, grouping in communities, and organizing. The leaders, whether civic or nation-state, spurred innovation as both a defensive and an imperialistic action. There was war, they advanced their cultures, and left behind a legacy of superiority. That’s the current consensus.

[cue factory workers]

Whether Caral’s enigmatic leadership evolved from a natural reaction to threat, or were simply opportunistic, the argument is building that a nomadic culture leaping forward into an urban one is not a such a novel occurrence. It’s happened before, in Sudan, Asia, India, Sumeria, Egypt, and in the Asian Peninsula. There happened along a stimuli, and suddenly someone became ruler. Soon after, stone, bone and charcoal were advanced; metallurgy and science resulting in massive tributes weighing hundreds of millions of tons were realized. Thanks to the discovery at Caral and the efforts of ancient scribes, we understand a little more about how societies grow. The progression of power and influence has footsteps: stimuli bonds a group, find a boss, have a war, advance technology, hire a writer to preserve history. It’s a familiar game plan. Established civilizations come and go and each follows a similar pattern.

And what explanation do archeologists and anthropologists offer for Caral’s collapse? Apathy. People got tired of being bossed around and left.

[cue nomad in field with family and friends. fade.]

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I am a soldier, so my son can be a farmer, so his son can be a poet.” – an old saying attributed to John Adams.

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