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Found: Europe’s oldest civilisation

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  Quote Exarchus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Found: Europe’s oldest civilisation
    Posted: 11-Jun-2005 at 09:26

http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/story.jsp?story=645976

11 June 2005

Archaeologists have discovered Europe's oldest civilisation, a network of dozens of temples, 2,000 years older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids.

More than 150 gigantic monuments have been located beneath the fields and cities of modern-day Germany, Austria and Slovakia. They were built 7,000 years ago, between 4800BC and 4600BC. Their discovery, revealed today by The Independent, will revolutionise the study of prehistoric Europe, where an appetite for monumental architecture was thought to have developed later than in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

In all, more than 150 temples have been identified. Constructed of earth and wood, they had ramparts and palisades that stretched for up to half a mile. They were built by a religious people who lived in communal longhouses up to 50 metres long, grouped around substantial villages. Evidence suggests their economy was based on cattle, sheep, goat and pig farming.

Their civilisation seems to have died out after about 200 years and the recent archaeological discoveries are so new that the temple building culture does not even have a name yet.

Excavations have been taking place over the past few years - and have triggered a re-evaluation of similar, though hitherto mostly undated, complexes identified from aerial photographs throughout central Europe.

Archaeologists are now beginning to suspect that hundreds of these very early monumental religious centres, each up to 150 metres across, were constructed across a 400-mile swath of land in what is now Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and eastern Germany.

The most complex excavated so far - located inside the city of Dresden - consisted of an apparently sacred internal space surrounded by two palisades, three earthen banks and four ditches.

The monuments seem to be a phenomenon associated exclusively with a period of consolidation and growth that followed the initial establishment of farming cultures in the centre of the continent.

It is possible that the newly revealed early Neolithic monument phenomenon was the consequence of an increase in the size of - and competition between - emerging Neolithic tribal or pan-tribal groups, arguably Europe's earliest mini-states.

After a relatively brief period - perhaps just one or two hundred years - either the need or the socio-political ability to build them disappeared, and monuments of this scale were not built again until the Middle Bronze Age, 3,000 years later. Why this monumental culture collapsed is a mystery.

The archaeological investigation into these vast Stone Age temples over the past three years has also revealed several other mysteries. First, each complex was only used for a few generations - perhaps 100 years maximum. Second, the central sacred area was nearly always the same size, about a third of a hectare. Third, each circular enclosure ditch - irrespective of diameter - involved the removal of the same volume of earth. In other words, the builders reduced the depth and/or width of each ditch in inverse proportion to its diameter, so as to always keep volume (and thus time spent) constant .

Archaeologists are speculating that this may have been in order to allow each earthwork to be dug by a set number of special status workers in a set number of days - perhaps to satisfy the ritual requirements of some sort of religious calendar.

The multiple bank, ditch and palisade systems "protecting" the inner space seem not to have been built for defensive purposes - and were instead probably designed to prevent ordinary tribespeople from seeing the sacred and presumably secret rituals which were performed in the "inner sanctum" .

The investigation so far suggests that each religious complex was ritually decommissioned at the end of its life, with the ditches, each of which had been dug successively, being deliberately filled in.

"Our excavations have revealed the degree of monumental vision and sophistication used by these early farming communities to create Europe's first truly large scale earthwork complexes," said the senior archaeologist, Harald Staeuble of the Saxony state government's heritage department, who has been directing the archaeological investigations. Scientific investigations into the recently excavated material are taking place in Dresden.

The people who built the huge circular temples were the descendants of migrants who arrived many centuries earlier from the Danube plain in what is now northern Serbia and Hungary. The temple-builders were pastoralists, controlling large herds of cattle, sheep and goats as well as pigs. They made tools of stone, bone and wood, and small ceramic statues of humans and animals. They manufactured substantial amounts of geometrically decorated pottery, and they lived in large longhouses in substantial villages.

One village complex and temple at Aythra, near Leipzig, covers an area of 25 hectares. Two hundred longhouses have been found there. The population would have been up to 300 people living in a highly organised settlement of 15 to 20 very large communal buildings.

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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jun-2005 at 11:00
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  Quote Le Renard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jun-2005 at 20:04
This is really awsome! I wonder who this people are and what they did!
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  Quote YusakuJon3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Jun-2005 at 22:10
Ancestors of the  Celts, I  guess.  Their origins have been traced to roughly the same part of Europe, from which they migrated after  the 3rd millenium BC.  By the days of the familiar Greek and Roman civilizations, they were mostly limited to a corner of northern Europe straddling the English Channel.  One of the things which stands out about Celtic culture  is the structure of certain religious sites such as Stonehenge.  Many such sites also include concentric ditches and ramparts such as described above, so it wouldn't surprise me if that design was a surviving concept from the ancient culture now being discussed.
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  Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jun-2005 at 07:16
Stonehenge wasn't built by celts was it? Celts didn't arrive in the biritsh isles till much later, I thought.
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  Quote Cywr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jun-2005 at 09:05
Stonehenge predates what is understood to be the Celtic era, but there again, the entire notion that there was a mass migration of Celts into the UK is dusputed, rather cultural diffusion is the in thing somewhat.
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  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jul-2005 at 16:18
These people belonged to the culture of Western Linear Pottery, also known as Danubian Neolithic, the first farmers to settle in Central Europe. Their origins are in the Hungarian area but they can be traced to the first Europeans farmers of Thessaly (Sesklo), who eventually came from the Near East. Still they surely had some strong admixture with European natives, though the cultural elements are almost exclussively imported (though evolving as they march).

Some of these "temples" had been located earlier. But it seems that now they have found the phenomena to be widespread and the ritualistic meaning to be more clear. Cool!

I don't think these peoples are (culturally) direct ancestors of Celts but the original Celtic group (as well as other Western IE groups) could well have evolved after IEs invaded these Danubians between 3000 and 2400 BCE. As Danubians weren't any backward people (actually I suspect they resisted the IE invasions for some time pretty solidly) it may well be that they influenced the culture of Celts (for instance the torques is first found among Danubians!).

But the Megalithic culture (rather phenomenon) that eventually gave birth to Stonehenge doesn't have this origin but SW Iberia. It seems to have spread among "native" (post-Magdalenian) peoples of Atlantic Europe around 3500-3000 BCE, later extending its scope to some Danubian and Mediterranean groups.

Eventually, much later, the Celts, that sprung from the Rhin area, conquered and assimilated some of those peoples, learning druidism (imported to the continent from Britain)... but that's another story.

I don't think it's justified to call them a civilization, as their were a rather rural (though sedentary) kin only because they built temples. Civilization comes from city.
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  Quote Phallanx Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jul-2005 at 17:31
Their origins are in the Hungarian area but they can be traced to the first Europeans farmers of Thessaly (Sesklo), who eventually came from the Near East.


The first farmers of Europe were obviously those of the agricultural cultivation in Nea Nicomedia (7.000 B.C.).  We have finds of 2,000 decarbonated wheat seeds in N. Nicomedia, proving that knew how to cultivate the ground from the 7th millenium B.C.

I would like you to support your claim of their origin to be the Near East with some facts.
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  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jul-2005 at 18:49
Sesklo, Nea Nikomedia... where's the difference? That culture is known as Sesklo (after c. 6000 BCE) and pre-Sesklo (before, but not as much as 7000 BCE for what I know). Do not mix specific sites (that can include several succesive cultures) with cultures (that just take most often the name from one of the sites), please.

I can't proof that they came from the Near East but seems very likely. I can give some hints though:

Hacilar in Anatolia seems to be related to Sesklo and pre-Sesklo, while the Cardium Pottery also found in pre-Sesklo and later in the Mediterranean Neolithic has a clear relative in Biblos. Still these could well derive from pre-Sesklo and not vice versa (depending on the datations used).

Also it's clear that agriculture was first developed in the Near East, at least before than in Greece or anywhere in Europe. And the pre-Sesklo and Sesklo culture(s) starts with fully developed seeds and cattle, all obviously imported from Asia. Though I could concede that potery may have been developed earlier in Thessaly than in Asia, as the dates for Thessalian pottery are very early, maybe even predating those of Syria.

The Sesklo (and directly related cultures) architecture also keeps relation with that of Asia, creating the characteristic tells or magoulas, that are found at both sides of the Mediterranean. Instead one not well understood characteristic of the Danubian offspring culture is that, though they still use adobe for buildings, their villages don't form tells anymore. For this and other reasons, Danubian Neolithic is considered separadtely (though relatedly) from the Balcanic Neolitic starting at pre-Sesklo.

Finally, ther is the genetic study of Cavalli-Sforza (other studies are quite concordant too) that show that the major principal component (PC-1) of the European genome has its strongest concentration in SW Asia, specifically in Mesopotamia, and that it's gradual dilution towards the north and the west resenbles strikingly the known pattern of expansion of Neolithic through the continent.


(source)
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  Quote Phallanx Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jul-2005 at 19:48
And the pre-Sesklo and Sesklo culture(s) starts with fully developed seeds and cattle, all obviously imported from Asia. Though I could concede that potery may have been developed earlier in Thessaly than in Asia, as the dates for Thessalian pottery are very early, maybe even predating those of Syria.


Another hypothesis, "all obviously imported from Asia".

How can you support this claim, based on what archeologic finds, why totally discredit the finds in Gioura of Alonnesos island that give us the date of 8200BC for domesticated cattle and pigs or the finds in Frachthi of Argolida that give us decarbonated seeds dated back to 8100BC, I could also mention the fishing hooks found in Gioura dated to 8600BC.

As for genetics, shouldn't we be able to link let's say the Hellines to the area of Mesopotamia as in your example and if so, why hasn't the whole debate ended based on this map Cavalli-Sforza presented?
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  Quote strategos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jul-2005 at 19:54

Europes oldest civilization? I thought the Minoans were already found..

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  Quote Menippos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jul-2005 at 21:14
Probably you mean the Minoans
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  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jul-2005 at 21:30
Originally posted by Phallanx

How can you support this claim, based on what archeologic finds, why totally discredit the finds in Gioura of Alonnesos island that give us the date of 8200BC for domesticated cattle and pigs or the finds in Frachthi of Argolida that give us decarbonated seeds dated back to 8100BC, I could also mention the fishing hooks found in Gioura dated to 8600BC.


Are you sure of those dates? They are totally new for me. Links? Sources?

Fishing hooks? That isn't agriculture.

Still, if your data can be confirmed and is not just another ultra-nationalistic claim, it will very interesting to fix the whole hypothesis to that new data, approaching more to the truth, hopefully.

Anyhow, the Near East still predates those findings, I think.
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  Quote Phallanx Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jul-2005 at 21:53
Ultra-nationalistic???
What kind of BS is this???

Well it seems like, not only these dates but the history of Hellas is quite new to you, if you ask me.
Anyway, I know of no source that mentions these finds but will look for one. You see, I didn't copy this off some site, my knowledge of these finds is by visiting the archeologic sites and talking to the archeologists. (it's just a 3h boat ride from where I live, Volos)

A simple search gave me this site that mentions the island's history, not much but it'll have to do for now.
http://www.ikion.gr/en/photogallery/map.htm
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  Quote Togodumnus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Jul-2005 at 22:25
I have perused many history sites and have yet to find a concensus on Stonehenge and the Druids.Now I have always thought that  it was a Druid thing!But all the latest info now tells me that it predates Druidism by a lonnnnngggggg time.But I continue to hear of the two together.Apparently all this time and nobody knows as yet.
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  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Jul-2005 at 09:06
Originally posted by Togodumnus

I have perused many history sites and have yet to find a concensus on Stonehenge and the Druids.Now I have always thought that  it was a Druid thing!But all the latest info now tells me that it predates Druidism by a lonnnnngggggg time.But I continue to hear of the two together.Apparently all this time and nobody knows as yet.


The issue is where the druids come from? It's clear that the Celts found them in Britain and "exported" them to the continent, wuite succesfully. So after all, proto-druids could be behind Stonehenge, Avenbury and other sites, after all.

What Stonehenge (c. 2900-2000 BCE) does predate for long is Celtic Britain, that can only be traced to c. 1300 in the SE and not before 400 BCE in the rest of the territory.

Here is a good link on Stonehenge and Avenbury.
 
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  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Jul-2005 at 09:18
Originally posted by Phallanx

Ultra-nationalistic???
What kind of BS is this???


What is BS?

Well it seems like, not only these dates but the history of Hellas is quite new to you, if you ask me.
Anyway, I know of no source that mentions these finds but will look for one. You see, I didn't copy this off some site, my knowledge of these finds is by visiting the archeologic sites and talking to the archeologists. (it's just a 3h boat ride from where I live, Volos)


I have a rather good overall knowledge of the prehistory, more than history properly, of all Europe or the Euromediterranean region if you prefer. I'm not so much focused in specific areas but, logically, I have a little more knoweldege about my inmediate context (Western Europe). Still, due to the significance of Greece in the Early Neolithic and the Bronze and Iron ages, for all the continent, I can't ignore the prehistory and history of Greece and I am very interested in finding out everything.

Instead you seem only focused on finding "evidence" that backs your pre-made ideas of Hellenic continuity through centuries and milennia and that's is not obviously a scientific attitude but an ideological one. Hence why I tagged your statements of ultra-nationalistic.

If there is Hellenic continuity since whenver, then it has to be demonstrated at least reasonably, not just yelled out in an angry defensive mood.

Why don't you write a good article / start a topic on that issue? I would find it most interesting, though I start with a difeferent viewpoint. Maybe you convince me or others by using possitive argumentations instead of acting defensively/negatively in isolated efforts that only bring confussion and stress.

A simple search gave me this site that mentions the island's history, not much but it'll have to do for now.
http://www.ikion.gr/en/photogallery/map.htm


Poor link: turistical, no archaeological references found. Nice pics, though.
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