A few years ago I picked up a book by Graham Hancock called “Fingerprints of the Gods” that changed the way I thought of history. I have been a history nut since my school days but in this book Mr. Hancock challenged the orthodox views of how civilization progressed. I was hooked.
Many of the arguments made sense to me and I started reading more from Mr. Hancock and others that wrote of similar views. One of the biggest challenges to these views was, “where is the evidence?” Many things mentioned by these writers had little corroborating information or not enough to stir the archaeological community to further investigate.
Where is the evidence? Maybe in the ocean. Since the last ice age, sea levels have risen over 150 feet globally. Large swaths of land that used to be shore side are now under tens or hundreds of feet of water. The Persian Gulf used to be a river valley, Florida used to be about twice its size, Sundaland was a landmass that included large swaths of Southeast Asia and the Gulf of Mexico was half its size and more a bay with small waterways connecting it to the Atlantic Ocean.
Then you look at human nature and you notice that we really love to build cities near the coast or along rivers. We always have. Almost all ancient cities were near bodies of water because we need water to survive. Especially nice places were river deltas, building a city as close as you can to a delta really gave you an advantage. The land is more fertile, you have access to the seas and trade. Just a sweet place to put down some roots.
Until the sea levels rise that is. Once the seas start flooding your crops or even your house, it tends to make the place uninhabitable and less desirous. Storms cause more damage and water gets caught in tidal pools that, due to stagnation, might cause disease and all that other fun stuff.
If you do have cities, you have specialization of skills. I myself am an IT engineer, not a farmer or hunter. I might have some of those skills or learn quickly but what if I am dropped into an area without more than I can carry? If I left in a hurry, did I bring an axe? food? water? clothes? If I did, did every one else? Will I have to fend off other starving people for the food and tools I did bring? If I am fending them off, can I continue to feed myself?
Leaving the environs of a city quickly might also cause the loss of industry and the devaluing of specialization. Can you make the tools you need or did the tooling systems you require sink with the city? Could you even stay in large, organized groups? Might you have to break up into smaller and smaller groups to have a chance to feed your group? Non-survival skills then become unused and eventually forgotten.
How could a civilization die? I think these could be causes of an advanced society reverting to hunter gatherers. Just need to find some evidence of city remains. The cool thing is they are starting to look in the oceans and are finding things that are questioning the current story of man.
This is one of the premises in Wall of Destruction, a “When Atlantis Fell” saga. Something happens to cause the cities to be abandoned and the survivors need to learn to “go native” to survive. As this is a book of fiction, I also took the liberty of using stories of Atlantis and other ancient tales to build my civilizations.
I will add more about it in the coming posts.