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Where (or When) Does Human History Begin?

Where did the human race begin? When did the human race begin? When I was 4 years old, my dad presented me with a book on dinosaurs. This was a subject which totally fascinated me. He went on to give me a university level textbook on palaeontology. I found it incredible to think that a fossil record could show us things which were no longer with us in this world. Of course, the dinosaurs died out around 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period due to an asteroid impact on the Yucatán Peninsula. I never supposed that we existed alongside them, but I was always curious to know when exactly we as Homo sapiens emerged.

Apparently, I was not the only one. Years ago, I came across a book (fiction?) by David Mitchell called Cloud Atlas. In his story, he tells the tales of a number of characters over the span of a number of centuries. While I do not want to spoil it for anyone wanting to read this book, I found his way of connecting his characters very interesting. It started me thinking, "how do myth and legend fit into our historical record?" For example, was the lost city of Atlantis simply the deluded daydream of some Greek in his cups, or was there something more to this recollection?

Plato wrote about Atlantis in what is considered an allegory, "Timaeus and Critias". Many scholars would say that this is his answer to his depiction of the "ideal state", Athens, as he wrote about in "the Republic". From what I can tell, Plato was not widely known for writing self-indulgent fantasy pieces. He was known as a scholar and a philosopher, so why would he create a metaphoric society as a foil for his Greek utopia? Enter, Randall Carlson – a paleogeologist. He came up with an interesting theory. He believes he has found the lost city of Atlantis in the North Atlantic, and what is more, he believes he can explain how it met its end. The Younger Dryas impact event. A cataclysmic strike of multiple pieces of a comet that happened at the end of the last ice age. He contends that it was this that was responsible for the extinction of the megafauna, the Clovis culture in North America, and the demise of the Atlantean civilization.

Fossils are great, but they're offen very little as a historical record of a sophisticated civilization, such as we would understand it. But, if a written record is all we can go on, then when were the first written records recorded? It turns out that the Sumerians of Mesopotamia were the first (that we know of) to leave us records in pre-cuneiform between 3400 – 3100 BCE. However, we can carbon date cave paintings from as far back as 64 000 years ago. Of course, I am referring to those discovered in Maltravieso, Spain in 2018, and while these were ascribed to Neanderthals, it is widely accepted that we lived side-by-side with them for a long period of time in prehistory. So, I ask again – when then, exactly, did civilization occur? What hallmarks shall we ascribe to it? Modern agriculture? Modern forms of government? Pictographic writing? Clearly, opinions vary.

And then, I came across Graham Hancock and his ideas, not only on Atlantis, but on many convergent groupings from around the world that seem to reinforce the notion that we, as a society, are suffering from historical amnesia. If you are not familiar with his ideas, I would encourage you to watch his Netflix documentary, "Ancient Apocalypse".

Mainstream science will point to both of these two mavericks in their fields as men wearing tinfoil hats, and discount them out of hand merely because they do not reinforce the commonly held assumptions of ... er ... the mainstream. If modern times has taught me anything, it is that groupthink doesn't necessarily hold true but can often stifle real progress in terms of our understanding. There are many other books of historical significance that reinforced the notion that our world was formed out of the watery ashes of a worldwide flooding event. The epic of Gilgamesh from Sumeria. The book of Genesis in the Bible. The account of Yu and the Great Flood from China. It seems, there is more and more evidence appearing, the further we look.

Scientists have tried to offer explanations for flooding events around the globe on a case-by-case basis, but we need to ask ourselves "is it coincidence that all of these catastrophes seem to happen all at once?" Personally, I do not believe in coincidence. Truly, I believe that our history as human beings goes a lot further back then the Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Toltecs, or any of the other known groups that constitute our collective civilization. We need to ask ourselves, then, what treasures were lost in the great fire of the library of Alexandria? Could it be that we could have traced the origins back to the last ice age and beyond? We may never know, but one thing is clear – there is more to us than meets the eye. I believe we have lost much of our knowledge to the ravages of history, and the idiocy of some of our more zealous endeavours. One thing, however, is clear. If we do not heed our history and its lessons, we are certainly doomed to repeat it.

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