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What Took Us So Long?


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Hey all. So while reading up on prehistoric human species on wikipedia, I found out that modern humans have been around for about 200,000 years. Well, I'm a little bit puzzled. If Homo Sapiens Sapiens from back then were practically identical to us,(brain power etc) why did it take humanity 190,000 years or so to discover agriculture and get civilization started?

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Personally, the sheer developement of the brain aside, I think that humanity's progress is of highly exponential nature. Just look at the developements of technology in the last 100 years compared to the ones in the last 1000. A chain reaction of creativity instead of linear progress.

 

I hope to live long enough to see us do some *really* awesome stuff.

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Hey all. So while reading up on prehistoric human species on wikipedia, I found out that modern humans have been around for about 200,000 years. Well, I'm a little bit puzzled. If Homo Sapiens Sapiens from back then were practically identical to us,(brain power etc) why did it take humanity 190,000 years or so to discover agriculture and get civilization started?

 

Culture is development over a lot of time. You can view it just as you do biological evolution. Certain things had to be in-place for it to develop.

Roughly in order of importance and certainly not all:

 

1 - Large "looking into the future brain”.

2 - Favorable environmental conditions and lots of fresh water.

3 - Easily accessible food sources (that require less work as a whole than hunting/gathering)

4 - Specialization (potters, tool maker’s farmers, etc)

5 - Trade network of specialized goods.

6 - Loose to tight tribal banding

7 - Good oral traditions

8 - Some form of writing for better information passing.

9 - Villages, roads and small cities.

 

Now, we know we left Africa around 80,000ya. This was driven by the arid conditions on the continent and the ability to cross dry or low sea sections on foot. We were looking for food and nothing more then. At around 50,000-60,000ya the ice in Europe started to retreat allowing two things to start happening:

 

1 – Movement into Europe

2 – Freeing up a good bit of fresh water.

 

Over the next several tens of thousands of years, we had more favorable hunting and gathering conditions in multiple locations where humans lived. This allowed for higher population growth which led to conditions 3-7 above. This goes on to around 13,000ya when farming and animal domestication occurs. This allows more time for trade, building villages and having better oral tradition set to pass on. This goes on for another 5 to 6 thousand years and we get real writing, cities, armies, kings, etc. It happens because many conditions were met to allow for it over the millenniums. Humans had the time and an infrastructure hammered out over thousands of years to support it.

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Because something intuitive, some instinct, probably told them it was a bad idea :-)

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Because back in the old days the world was ruled by the God's of men's minds.

Only when we could get rid of the concept of god's could we take our own future into our own hands.

 

When crops failed, it was the gods. They sacrificed to the god's instead of rotating and resting fields.

Only when they got rid of that stupid concept and took charge of their own destiny did we as a civilization start to move forward.

 

A century ago man first started placing science over deity on a large enough scale that the church, the wise loving church, could not suppress it by execution or prison.

Since then less faith has been put into the impotent god's of imagination and understanding has been gained by science.

 

Two hundred years ago if you openly said that God did not exist and you could give a shit about Jesus, you would find yourself in deep shit.

One hundred years ago that became possible to say without fear of execution.

 

Map religion vs advancement and you get your answer.

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You also have to take into account climatic changes that were happening, and if I recall correctly, early in our species a super volcano errupted and nearly wipped us out.

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Check out the book Guns Germs and Steel. Its an entire book on this subject. There was also a National Geographic miniseries based on the book, you can watch it on youtube, here is the first one:

 

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I found this the other day and it seems to answer Tab's questions. I haven't had a chance to watch much yet, but so far it's been fantastic: http://www.letmewatc...10-Civilisation

Thanks for the links Rhiogo and Vigile!

Rhiogo, I read Guns, Germs and Steel a while back but I must have forgotten a lot. Perhaps it's just mad speculation, but I have to wonder how things would have been, if enviromental conditions had been more favorable about 200,000 years ago. We might have had colonies all throughout the milky way by now.

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Man spent too much time the last 3500 years obsessing about who or what or how or when we fuck, aka religion.

 

Prior to that I think we were on a natural order of discovery.

 

All the water and habitable lands were already in place for dispersion of the species.

 

We have a right to hate Italians for holding the world of science back :grin:.

 

darkages_graph_RE_Time_machine-s604x483-103710.jpg

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I don't think we can blame it all on the Europeans, or those in the Middle East. While we were obsessing about sin, the Asian countries were still flourishing.(Correct me if I'm wrong) So they're as much to blame as we are for our lack of progress back then.

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Blaming slow cultural development solely on religion is horseshit.

Many ancient religious cultures DID rotate their fields. There's even a law about it IN THE FUCKING BIBLE.

Don't blame religions and belief in gods for everything, stupid antitheists. There are other explanations, natural climate and human numbers and societal change being the best, that fully explain it.

I've never read of a religion impeding agriculture. In fact, the Code of Hammurabi, dedicated to the sun god, had very advanced rules for irrigation and everything else to do with agriculture.

Blaming all human wrongs on belief in gods is fucking ignorant. Stop it and read a book.

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Hey all. So while reading up on prehistoric human species on wikipedia, I found out that modern humans have been around for about 200,000 years. Well, I'm a little bit puzzled. If Homo Sapiens Sapiens from back then were practically identical to us,(brain power etc) why did it take humanity 190,000 years or so to discover agriculture and get civilization started?

 

I got this one, because:

 

Discovery is exponential. It snowballs.

First they needed to develop language to pass it down from generation to generation. Then they needed to discover recording methods to save it from distortion. They didn't get our alpha numeric system until a couple thousand years ago-- remember the Romans were using MMX for our year. Try multiplying that. Basically we needed to wait until we could preserve the insights of millions of the worlds brightest minds discovering facts we now take for granted.

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There is another factor that it takes to form a civilization that is sustainable. It takes people. Early in human development, we were not that large in population and had little need for cooperation. Only as resources became more scarce did it require cooperation. When game animals got scarce was about the time agriculture was developed. When agriculture was developed, population increased. When you have a large and stable population, then and only then can you have a viable civilization.

 

This is very true. Adding to this, there needs to be a certain "critical mass" before civilization takes off. Society needs to cooperate enough so that it free individuals to specialize in a particular discipline and spend their entire life doing so. This reduces waste in manpower and resources since not everyone has to learn the skills of hunting and gathering. If person X becomes a farmer, develops techniques that help out all farmers, and uses tools to harvest a crop in one day with a few people instead of having the entire village do so, this frees up more time for others to further specialize in their own fields (pun intended hehe). This probably explains how basic bartering/trade came about since it relies on each individual exchanging their expertise for goods/services (without it, it would be difficult to specialize).

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Great point guys. The population and food supply.

 

Necessity, why would you work 8 hours a day for a douche, when you could just go kill a buffalo, eat good, tell stories, play with body paints, and have lots of sex...

That makes total sense to me. Our ancestors had it too good to deal with societies crap

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Blaming slow cultural development solely on religion is horseshit.

Many ancient religious cultures DID rotate their fields. There's even a law about it IN THE FUCKING BIBLE.

Don't blame religions and belief in gods for everything, stupid antitheists. There are other explanations, natural climate and human numbers and societal change being the best, that fully explain it.

I've never read of a religion impeding agriculture. In fact, the Code of Hammurabi, dedicated to the sun god, had very advanced rules for irrigation and everything else to do with agriculture.

Blaming all human wrongs on belief in gods is fucking ignorant. Stop it and read a book.

 

Not sure where you got that I blamed all human wrongs on religion, I have read a lot of books and I'm not anti theist.

I'm an atheist. Big difference. I don't believe but nor do I voice my beliefs on others unless they are actively trying to convince me or someone else.

 

 

The fact remains, religion in particular Christianity slowed the advancement of science.

Flat Earth was maintained and enforced as was geocentricism.

People were killed because they developed an advancement that was not accepted, the technology then deemed the work of the devil.

Rifling was an example. The guy who developed it was executed because he was accused of conspiring with the devil.

Book burning was rife.

This lasted centuries.

 

There is no single cause that fully explains it. Its a combination of many.

I'm not ignorant, nor am I stupid but I do wonder what I've done to piss you off?

 

 

 

 

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An interesting point on what made us take so long to develop has to do with the population we are seeing. The more people you have the more innovative people you have.

Also, the more people you have, the less work everyone has to do, and the more idle time to invent shit we all have.

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An interesting point on what made us take so long to develop has to do with the population we are seeing. The more people you have the more innovative people you have.

Also, the more people you have, the less work everyone has to do, and the more idle time to invent shit we all have.

 

This actually lines up with something Ortega y Gasset wrote in "Revolt of the Masses." He argued that the cutting edge of science is in the hands of just a very small number of people around the planet. While millions understand and use new technology and scientific breakthroughs, the ability to discover and make breakthroughs is held by very, very few and were they to be removed, progress would halt.

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This actually lines up with something Ortega y Gasset wrote in "Revolt of the Masses." He argued that the cutting edge of science is in the hands of just a very small number of people around the planet. While millions understand and use new technology and scientific breakthroughs, the ability to discover and make breakthroughs is held by very, very few and were they to be removed, progress would halt.

Not only halt, but very likely rapidly reverse.

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Check out the book Guns Germs and Steel. Its an entire book on this subject. There was also a National Geographic miniseries based on the book, you can watch it on youtube, here is the first one:

 

 

 

i have read this book and i must say it si exactly what you are looking for in this subject.

 

to answer your question though we did not develop agriculture untill a few thousand years ago becuase there was 2 reasons

 

1- climate change

 

2- the need for agriculture through actions and results

 

people were unable to develop mass crops becuase the climate would not allow them too but as the earth became warmer as we exited the ice age the enviorment allowed for the adaptation of crops. it also allowed for a greater increase in human population cuasing the need for crops.

 

and the second subject, with the rise in human population with new technology and shelter tech the population would began to rise above the capcivity of natural resources to sustain them. it is also in corelation with the loss of large game to suport the population so farming had to be developed. soon people relized they needed to stay with their crops and so cities developed and in the need to organize and manage these cities you get writing. writing originaly was nothing more that measurements to manage things such as food production, it would not become personalised till much much latter. soon with the gorwth of cities and the sese pool of ideas it creates people will create their own cultuaral identity creating things such as wars, politics, diplomacey and trade.

 

dont have the miss conception that people did not manage their food stuffs in hunter gather socities. they would often times clear out weeds and unwanted plants to make room for natural growing plants but they wernt minipulating the plants for their gain so it wasnt yet agriculture.

 

the risky thing about a farming socitety is that we become insastiable. with rise in population we need more farms and with more farms we get more people cuasing the need for more farms to sustain those people. then with developing societies you get things such as electricity, plumming, entertainment and residential zones. these new developments all need room and resources to continue to work so in our constant development we are quickly over growing our capcivity rate to suport our selves and this if it is not managed properly will drive us into social collapse as the earth is not infinante in its resources.

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