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Governance                  8,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

In General

 For reasons not altogether clear people around the world after about 10,000 years ago began to interact with plants and animals in ways that led in many cases to domestication and agriculture; and in this same period of transition people all over the world appear to have begun living in larger communities, in which they spent much or all of the year. Not every group around the world changed in these ways, and hunting-foraging in the traditional ways continued throughout most of the world. But when we place these early Egyptian communities in the context of similar changes in Anatolia, Mesoamerica, northern China, and many other places, this pattern of worldwide change appears revolutionary. (47)

Africa

The archaeological record shows that a single culture, the Iberomaurusian, occupied the Maghreb region of North Africa from around 18/16,000 to 8,000 BC, during which time similar assemblages were to be found as far east as the Haua Fteah cave on the Cyrenaican coast. Not quite up to Egypt, but the proximity of Iberomaurusian deposits to the present coastline has suggested to investigators that many sites may have been drowned in the postglacial seas. (115)

In North Africa the Iberomaurusian culture also began breaking up at the beginning of the eighth millennium, to be replaced by Proto-Mediterranean peoples of unknown, apparently eastern, origin. Europe's original tanged point complex began to disperse around 8000 BC as well; most of the continent would remain at a Mesolithic stage of hunter-gatherer-fisher culture for the next several thousand years. (115)

Southwest Asia

But perhaps the most compelling argument for dating Plato's deluge to the mid-eighth millennium is simply the number and nature of the newly founded settlements that appeared in the east around 75/7300 BC. From Syria and Palestine to east Anatolia and the Zagros mountains, extraordinarily advanced communities emerged, seemingly out of nowhere. An inventory of their collective remains shows that virtually all of the elements upon which the civilizations of later ages would be based--complex hybrid grains, advanced architectural techniques, functional pottery, even the beginnings of metal work--were introduced almost simultaneously by this wave of new settlers. (115)

…Cauvin's more recent work has uncovered a dazzling array of innovations that appear to date to the period in which Van Loon found rectangular architecture. These include: (1)the first documented ceramic receptacles (possibly ritual vessels, as their very small size precludes cooking or storage), (2)the earliest recorded wall paintings (one showing black chevrons on a white base), (3)a shift from gazelle-dominated faunal remains to a greater emphasis on cattle and wild ass (a change evidently prompted by cultural preference alone and accompanied by a notable decline in fish), and (4) the first clay female figurine known to the Near East (fig. 41), standing with arms under relatively small breasts in the classic pose assumed by numerous later likenesses around the eastern Mediterranean. (115)

Wherever they originated, Mureybet's new traditions seem to have brought trouble to the site. In Van Loon's excavation, phase III ended with two disastrous fires following closely on one another. The next to last stratum was described as only about a foot deep, with evidence of having been "burned fiercely" in every part of the mound where it was encountered. Noting that the following level had experienced the same fate, Van Loon concluded that "the wholesale destruction in this and the next stratum suggests enemy action." (115)

Jericho’s walled town was abandoned around 7600 BC (the tower had long since been blocked up); Harifian points were gone from the Negev by around 8000 BC. (115)


It was perhaps in order to deal with the most basic forms of commerce with neighbouring communities that the oldest known form of bartering tokens were developed by the tribal communities of the Kurdish highlands in the eighth millennium BC. These tokens gradually became more complex, until larger clay cases were made in which the smaller tokens could be kept safely without being damaged or defaced. By 3000 BC the token system had been completely replaced by sequences of markings inscribed on to the clay cases, and soon afterwards the first baked-clay tablets bearing ideogram scripts started appearing in the lowlands of Sumeria - their shape reflecting the fat cases originally used to contain the loose tokens. In other words, what was perhaps one of the earliest forms of written language in the Old World had developed initially in the highlands of Kurdistan. (149)

Such were the beginnings of civilized life in Kurdistan. From its first foundations between 9500 and 8000 BC, this one region produced some of the first known examples of animal domestication, metallurgy, painted pottery, proto-agriculture, trade, urbanization and written language. No one could deny the extraordinary advances made in this region over a period of some five thousand years, and no Mesopotamian scholar would deny the way in which the Kurds had influenced the development of the Sumerian civilization in the Fertile Crescent of Iraq ans Syria. (149)

c. 8500-5500 BC High-point of Watcher culture, which remains in virtual isolation in northern Kurdistan. (149)

Egypt

 A series of gods, demigods, kings, and pharaohs ruled over a complex social structure. Public buildings (and palaces, tombs, and memorials) surpassed anything known at the time. We know so much about early Egyptian life because a system of writing existed almost from the beginning. Its history and culture influenced later Eastern Mediterranean societies in ways that lived into the modern era in science and religion. (113)

Indus Valley

 Mehrgarh Period I takes us back to about 9000 years ago, but the radiocarbon results are frequently confusing, 'the stratigraphy at the site is extremely complex', and because of the margins of inaccuracy that apply to any attempt to date sites as old as this one it is by no means inconceivable that Mehrgarh may in fact be closer to 10,000 than to 9000 years old. (124)

China

 

Europe

 …stratographically, the human remains at Ghar Dalam lie contemporaneously with Pleistocene red deer and other extinct fauna in the deer layer. (124)

Anthony Frendo, Head of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Malta, initially concluded that the nitrogen results published in the 1964 Report effectively demolished any possibility that Palaeolithic humans had lived on Malta. But in what amounts to an extraordinary endorsement from the heart of the establishment, Frendo concedes that Mifsud's research has now shown those nitrogen results to have been 'tampered with' and the fluorine and uranium oxide tests suppressed so as to create a false Neolithic chronology for the human teeth from Ghar Dalam: 'This means that early man must have come to the Maltese islands in pre-Neolithic times.' (124)

The preconditions to warfare appear to have been a rising population density, resource shortages and perhaps ethnic differences. This in turn led to competition over territory and possessions. The issues of squabbling over territory appear to become the core of conflict after around 10 kya in Mesolithic northern Europe. Analysis of burials at Skateholm in southern Sweden dating from around 7.5 kya shows a remarkably high level of violent deaths. Here, and elsewhere in northern Europe at this time, over a fifth of skeletons show evidence of a violent end. The proportion is higher amongst men, and certain injuries, such damage to the left-hand side of the skull and arms broken parrying blows, suggest conflict. (145)

Catalhoyuk seems to show us that the development of large, sedentary settlements at the end of the Pleistocene was not necessarily prefaced by the development of intensive agriculture. Catalhoyuk was not a city but, as archaeologist Guillermo Algaze describes it, an "overgrown village". For example, there is no public architecture, no evidence of municipal buildings, palaces temples, or government structures. (170)

South America

 

Mesoamerica

 

North America

 

Other

 The same story of pressure on resources emerges from analysis of rock art in northern Australia. This tells a tale of continuing collective violence, which develops from individual and small group conflicts around 10 kya to larger group confrontations from about 6 kya. This covers a period of ecological crisis when the rising sea flooded the rich plains between Australia and New Guinea. (145)