An Archaeological Moment in Time

The following essay reflects what appear to be the best estimates we can make according to what everything we know collectively indicates the world was like on one particular -not so special- day in what some now refer to as the "Late Neolithic period".

On this particular day, the Kurgan were already an ancient people. They were a Proto-Indo European culture, a link between the Dravidians, the Aryans, and the Barbarians of Europe. They are said to be among the first people to domesticate the horse. On this day, they live in several fortified towns in the steppes of what would later become Russia. Some of these towns had hundreds of stone houses dug into hillsides in defensible locations. There they protect themselves and their animals from the elements, and from invaders, should anyone be fool enough to attack such a place. For they are themselves invaders, and will one day expand their territories as far west as Ireland.

On this same day, people already in Ireland were building great, megalithic tombs which now populate the Irish countryside. They also constructed cliffside fortresses, and they had brewers serving beer.  Even in the "new stone age", beer and wine were already commercially available in most of the known world. This was also the time when those who would become Druids began to devise plans for even bigger, more impressive structures.  These would be known as Callanish in their homeland, and Stonehenge in England, where the most significant structure to date was a system of raised wooden walkways built over the moors. The English were also in an agricultural revolution, having just recently adopted farming practices that were already well-established throughout the rest of Europe and the near-East.

By this time, modern men had already been living in Europe for tens of thousands of years, ever since those  known as Cro-Magnon replaced the Neandertals. Now they themselves have themselves have also been replaced, divided and absorbed into the new cultures of the area. But they left their ancient wooden huts behind for archaeologists to find, as well as all their monuments, and their wonderful cave paintings rendered so very long before.

The great bears and other terrible beasts have all been driven off or killed in the dozens of centuries since. Times have changed dramatically in the last few thousand years. The cold summers long forgotten, most of these people now live a relatively comfortable existence, with little or no state government, and answering only to lesser deities and one goddess usually considered to be the mother of the Earth. Life in Europe is very different now. Its more secure, and centered around farming where the height of technology at the moment are hand plows crafted in hard wood.

And on this day, there are people everywhere, some still living in caves in Italy and in Greece, but not living like "cave-men" Hercules and the witch since they're already farming, and making beautiful ceramics, and already developing unique, colorful societies.  By this time, there were also long-houses and lodges erected from Poland through Scandinavia, and the British Isles.  There are even religious temples like this mysterious and already anceint underground necropolis on the island of Malta. 

Far to the west, in the Americas, most of the native tribesmen still live exactly as their ancestors had for hundreds of generations, except for the fact that the giant cats, mammoths, and even horses are all gone from this land, mostly due to the archaic hunters of the past.  The newer tribes are hunting smaller game, and hunting less of it.  In the northern places, they usually fish or gather nuts and fruits to eat, and they still live in the most primitive of thatched huts.  They will build great cities here one day, some of which the white men will never see.  But having been cut off from the rest of the world for the last 4,000 years or so, their technological development will consequently be a bit behind that of many other nations. 

In the southern climes, a more advanced culture is arising.  In Mexico for example, already accomplished farmers have bred a new species of Maize, corn, which will still be a staple thousands of years into the future.  On this same day, far beyond the edge of Alaska from whence the Asian ancestors of the Americans came, there is an island off the still bitterly cold shores of Kamchatka.

And on this island are the very last survivors of what were once man's favorite prey, the magnificent wooly mammoths. Trapped here since the sea levels rose at the end of the last epoch, they would remain, isolated and undiscovered by anyone, until finally slipping into extinction here too, around the time that our currently calendar was adopted in Rome. 

To the south, Japanese craftsmen have already been making their beautiful Jomon pottery for 6,000 years, inspired by the original Chinese craftsmen who've been doing it even longer.  These cultures are closely related to the ancestors of the American tribesmen.  But the ways of the old world have exceeded those of the new, largely because of the early adoption of agriculture and of course international trade.

At this time, Austronesian fisher folk are sailing to a new home on the island of Formosa (Taiwan).  But there are few, if any, tribes living on the more remote islands of the South Pacific, not even New Zealand, where on this day, the giant moahs still roam, along with the largest eagles the world has ever known.

Like the Americans, aborigines have been cut off entirely from the world market.  By this time, they have been living in Australia longer than any legend can retell.  There too, the great beasts of the past are all gone, the last of these being the killer goannas, giant man-eating lizards even bigger than crocodiles, most if these were eliminated by cunning men who would not be consumed.

The Pithecanthropus people of southern Asia were completely forgotten ages ago, either driven to extinction, or absorbed into a new, and rapidly growing family of men.  Other races, like the island "hobbits" of Indonesia may be gone by now too, and are perhaps only barely remembered in a dwindling few legends. 

India's legends however will stand the tests of time.  On this day, the Aryan and the Indus cultures are still very closely-related, sharing much of their language and tradition. Their writing at this point has been limited to pictographs and petroglyphs, something they've been doing for many centuries. But now they are also composing and rehearsing the first drafts of the legendary oral traditions that will be forever known as the Rig Veda, the foundation of Hinduism, the world’s oldest extant religion.

We next look at Africa. It is the ultimate mother country because men have lived here since the dawn of our age. The very first concepts of mathematics, art, and geometry all originated here more than 60,000 years earlier, and 20,000 years before any foreign art of this kind appeared anywhere else.  But on this day, there are well-established villages and towns of many different ancient cultures. Some of whom are already using multi-oared barges to ship their goods to market in the town of Naqada where there is an official form of government.  There men are ruled not by tribal chieftans, but by kings. 

In another 800 years or so, the climate of North Africa and the middle East will change dramatically, becoming a desert. But today, it is still a fertile, green and well-watered land.  Here may be found the most advanced societies of any on Earth.  In Syria, they operate the first large-scale commercial bakeries.  And far out in Arabian pastures, the Ubaidis, a Semitic people are establishing a settlement that will become the city of Ur.  Here there are complex political systems and city-states forming along the banks of the Tigris / Euphrates.  And these people have already set about building the most amazing cities of the ancient world, complete with enormous towers in honor of the elder gods, like Marduk and Inanna. 

The Ubaidian people manufactured pottery like everyone did on that day.  But they also drained marshes, built dykes, and ran a system of irrigation trenches from the rivers.  They grew wheat and barley for bread and beer, kept farm animals, invented weaving machines, made leather and metal goods, and sold produce in huge markets. 

“That’s alright; That’s four for the gourd.”
“Four? For this gourd?!  Four!  Look at it!
It’s worth ten if it’s worth a sheckel!”
“Alright! Alright!”

Most people elsewhere in the world had a few pets and livestock by this point, but there were as yet not many domestic cattle breeds other than goats.  The ancestors of all the modern domestic bovines, (at least in the west) were large, a wild and dangerous free-roaming beast known as the Aurochs, Bos primigenius, "the original bull".  These would initially be kept as fighting animals for gladiatorial contests and the subject of legend.  But eventually, the mighty Aurochs would be bred into a smaller, and much milder mammal, which would then flower into the several different breeds of modern ranch cattle.  Sadly, the last of the once-mighty parent species would eventually die in captivity in the year, 1627. 

But on this day, one of the few places one could find Aurochs in captivity was Jericho, the most ancient city known to man. By this time, the city of Jericho had already been a continuously inhabited settlement for some 3,000 years.  This was the birthplace of the selective breeding practices that turned the terrible Aurochs into Bessy the dairy cow.  And this was the place that cultivated new species of wheat which would soon become the primary staple of every major culture around the world. 

To each of these societies thriving around the globe so long ago, the world of their grandfathers' grandfathers was already ancient, just as Ecclesiastes described it to be.  And on this particular day, Sunday, October 23rd, 4004 BC., no one alive would have believed that this was the first day, or that the Earth had just been created that morning.