Sunday, March 25, 2007

When exactly was the 'dawn of civilisation'?

I am an avid reader of the New Internationalist and was particularly fascinated by the latest issue 'Inside Iran' which provides an independent view of what is happening for the people of this war-torn and often vilified country.

I was sad however to find that even in such an 'enlightened' publication as the NI the journalist who wrote the section 'Iran - a history' subscribes to the dominant but debatable view that 'the dawn of civilization' was in the 4th millenium BCE.

Eminent archeologist Marija Gimbutas and others have uncovered numerous sites that show evidence of much older sophisticated civilizations and clearly reveal an ancient widespread culture which flourished throughout Europe between 6500 and 3500 BCE. Gimbutas' work shows a society in which women had high status and power along with men. Egalitarian and peaceful, "Old Europe" existed for thousands of years without war.

Clearly at odds with the images of kings, warriors, and conquering gods that generally dominate our view of the past, this work cuts to the heart of basic questions about human nature. Is war inevitable? Did men always dominate women? It is not hard to see why this controversial information is hotly (but not terribly convincingly) disputed by the current patriarchal paradigm of scholarship. However the evidence of civilized societies much earlier then 4000 BCE is clear. I wrote to the NI and told them what I thought!

For more information see where you can also order copies of 'Signs out of Time' an inspiring documentary on Marija's life and work.

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