A Historical Perspective
Current theories of history generally ignore myth and folklore and do not consider any macro external influences on consciousness. For the most part, modern history theory teaches that consciousness (or history) moves in a linear pattern from the primitive to the modern, with few exceptions, and it includes the
- Mankind evolved out of Africa
- People were hunter-gatherers until about 5,000 years ago
- Tribes first banded together for protection from other warring parties
- Written communication preceded large engineered structures or populous civilizations
The problem with this widely accepted paradigm is that it is not consistent with the evolving interpretation of recently discovered ancient cultures and anomalous artifacts. In the last hundred years, major discoveries have been made in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, South America, Turkey and many other regions that break the rules of history theory and push back the time of advanced human development. Specifically, they show that ancient peoples were, in many ways, far more proficient and civilized nearly five thousand years ago than they were during the more recent dark ages of just six hundred to a thousand years ago.
In Caral, an ancient complex of unknown origin on the west coast of Peru, we find six pyramids that are carbon dated to 2700 BC, a date contemporaneous with Egyptian pyramids and that rivals the time of the first major structures found in the so-called Cradle of Civilization in Mesopotamia. Caral is an ocean away from the Cradle. We find no evidence of writing or weaponry, two of the so-called necessities of civilization, but we do find beautiful musical instruments, astronomically aligned structures, and evidence of commerce with distant lands (fabrics, seeds and shells not indigenous to the area but no weapons)— all signs of a peaceful and prosperous culture.
Gobekli Tepe presents an even greater challenge to conventional accounts of history. Dated to at least 9000 BC, this site in Turkey contains dramatic architecture, including carved pillars of huge proportions. To find that something so large and complex existed long before the dates accepted for the invention of agriculture and pottery is an archaeological enigma. These sites defy the standard historical paradigm. And what is stranger still is that so many of these civilizations seemed to decline en masse. In ancient Mesopotamia, Pakistan, Jiroft, and adjacent lands, we find knowledge of astronomy, geometry, advanced building techniques, sophisticated plumbing and water systems, incredible art, dyes and fabrics, surgery, medicine, and many other refinements of a civilized culture which seem to have emerged from nowhere and were completely lost over the next few thousand years.
By the time of the worldwide dark ages, every one of these civilizations, including the big ones in Egypt and the Indus Valley, had largely turned to dust or nomadic ways of life. Near the depths of the cyclic downturn, there were ruins and little else, while the local populace knew nothing of the builders except through legend. In some areas where larger populations still remained, such as parts of Europe, poverty, plague, and disease were often rampant, and the ability to read, write, or duplicate any of the earlier engineering or scientific feats had essentially disappeared. What happened?
While records of this period remain spotty, the archeological evidence indicates that consciousness, reflected as human ingenuity and capability, was greatly diminished. Humanity seemed to have lost the ability to do the things it used to do. Interestingly, this is just what many ancient cultures predicted. Stefan Maul, the world’s foremost Assyrianologist, shed light on this phenomenon in his 1997 Stanford Presidential Lectures series. He tells us that the Akkadians knew they lived in a declining era. They revered the past as a higher time and tried to hang on to it, but at the same time, they predicted and lamented the dark ages that would follow. His etymological studies of cuneiform tablets show the ancient words for “past” have now become our words for “future” and the ancient words for “future” have become our words for “past.” It is almost as if humanity orients its motion through time depending on whether it is going toward or away from a golden age.
This principle of waxing and waning epochs is depicted in numerous bas-reliefs found in ancient Mithraic “mystery school” temples. The famed Tauroctany, or bull-slaying scene, is usually surrounded by two boys, Cautes and Cautopetes. One holds a torch up on the ascending side of the zodiac, indicating a time of increasing light, and the other holds a torch down on the descending side of the zodiac, indicating a time of darkness. These are further broken into ages, which the Greeks deemed, “Iron, Bronze, Silver and Gold”, a simple way to describe the epochs of the Great Year.
Jarred Diamond, well-known historian-anthropologist and author of Guns, Germs and Steel, makes a good case that it is primarily local geographic and environmental advantages that determine which group of humans succeeds or fails versus another. Those that have the steel, guns, and bad germs win. Although this helps to explain many regional differences of the last few thousand years, it does not address the macro trends that seem to have affected all cultures, including China and the Americas, as they collectively slipped into the last worldwide dark age. The cyclical Great Year model overlays and augments Diamond’s observations with a reason for the widespread downturn. It implies that it is not only the geography and environment on Earth that determines a people’s relative success but also the geography and environment of Earth in space that affects humanity on a macroscopic scale. Just as small celestial motions dramatically affect life over the short term, so it appears that large celestial motions color life over the long term, resulting in the seasons of a Great Year.
Understanding that consciousness may indeed rise and fall with the motions of the heavens gives meaning to ancient myth and folklore and puts anomalous cultures and artifacts, such as the Antikythera device and the Babylon battery, into a historical context that makes sense. For example, the battery was developed at least 2000 years ago, lost in the dark ages, then reinvented by Volta in the post renaissance period. The same thing goes for prosthetic devices, brain surgery, and knowledge of a heliocentric system and advanced engineering, etc. They were discovered, lost, then rediscovered. It also speaks to why so many ancient cultures appear to have been fascinated with the stars and provides us with a workable paradigm in which to understand history. It could also help us identify the forces that propelled the Renaissance and that may be accelerating consciousness in our current era. Myth and folklore, the scientific language of yore, provide a deeper look at consciousness throughout the ages.