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Archive for the ‘Archaeology’ Category

How much do we really know about history — or maybe more properly, how much do we know about the human past?

(The Institute of Historical Research defines “history” as “the bodies of knowledge about the past produced by historians,” along with everything involved in producing and communicating that knowledge. That said, we often use the word “history” as an umbrella term for everything that happened in the past, and I’m not going to nitpick here.)

I often ask that question, because people who think they are erudite will sometimes tell me that I’m wrong about this or that fact about the past. Or, more often, they will just make some unequivocal statement about the past — such and such happened during such and such period, as if there were no question. (See one of my meditations about such certainty at “The Way Things Are, the Way Things Were, and What Is True.”)

Egyptian inscription, menu of Tepemankh

Inscription from tomb of Tepemankh, Giza, Egypt, conventionally dated about 2350-2300 BCE. Via Wikimedia Commons.

When historians make a statement about the past, how certain are they really? What prompted me to write about that question today was a comment contributed by a reader calling himself “Columbus” (I think his real name is Norbert — no comment on that) responding to my recent post, “Did Columbus Prove the Earth Is Round?” The commenter made reference to an article on the topic by historian Jeffrey Russell, who had this to say about what he called “the precariousness of history”:

History is precarious for three reasons: the good reason that it is extraordinarily difficult to determine “what really happened” in any series of events; the bad reason that historical scholarship is often sloppy; and the appalling reason that far too much historical scholarship consists of contorting the evidence to fit ideological models. The worst examples of such contortions are the Nazi and Communist histories of the early- and mid-twentieth century. (boldface mine)

All three reasons are causes for concern, particularly the urge for promoting ideologically-based falsehoods, one of the principal motivations behind the myth that Columbus proved the earth is round.

However, what I’m thinking about today is Russell’s reason number one, just the sheer difficulty of determining what really happened.

If you think about it, what is history based on, that is, our hypothetical narrative of the human past? Things like written documents and inscriptions, which become scarcer and more fragmentary the further back you go in time. Archaeologists help by creating conjectures based on traces of human activity dug up from the ground — the foundations of ancient buildings, shards of pottery, old pieces of metal, the occasional bone. But how much certainty does such evidence impart, especially when it comes to ancient history?

As an example, supposed erudites often assert that the Bible chronology can’t be correct, because the chronology of Egypt continues back in time before the Biblical date of the Great Flood at 2370 BCE. Many people “know” that, but what’s it based on? For the most part, two lines of shaky evidence — the puffery of Egyptian kings engraved on monuments, and an account of Egyptian history based on a source named Manetho, reputed to be an Egyptian historian living in the 3rd century BCE, more than 2,000 years after the Bible’s date for the Deluge and any Egyptian kings thought to have been living at that time. On top of that, Manetho’s history has never been found in its original complete form, and is only known from excerpts quoted in a work by the Jewish historian Josephus in the first century CE, four hundred years after the purported life of Manetho.

You still run across people who dismiss the Bible account based on that shaky foundation. Perhaps this is an example of what Russell refers to as “contorting the evidence to fit ideological models.”

But is Russell the only historian who suggests that history as commonly written is less certain than we like to let on?

Moses I. Finley

Moses I. Finley

The best reference I have found on this topic is Ancient History: Evidence and Models, a 1985 book by the Cambridge Classics scholar Moses I. Finley (1912-1986). If you’re open-minded enough to consider a criticism of history at the deepest level, I encourage you to read the book, which can be obtained through Amazon, or perhaps through an academic or public library.

However, following are a few selected quotes which help to express Finley’s thinking and observations about history as it is written.

Much of Finley’s focus is on classical Western history, beginning with Ancient Greece and Rome. In discussing Roman history as understood through Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus:

Try as we may, we cannot trace any of their written sources back beyond about 300 BC, and mostly not further than to the age of Marius and Sulla. Yet the early centuries of the Republic and the still earlier centuries that preceded it are narrated in detail in Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Where did they find their information? No matter how many older statements we can either document or posit — irrespective of possible reliability — we eventually reach a void. But ancient writers, like historians ever since, could not tolerate a void, and they filled it in one way or another, ultimately by pure invention. (9, boldface mine)

One of the problems Finley points to in reconstructing ancient history is the paucity of real primary documentation. In discussing government documents, he writes:

Outside Egypt, governmental documents available to us are solely those that the authorities chose to display publicly in lasting materials, stone or bronze (apart from the quotations that are preserved in the literary sources) …

… it is worth noting that of all the publicly displayed Roman laws, senatus consulta and imperial ‘enactments’ down to Constantine, barely one hundred are now available in some condition from the whole of the territory under Roman rule. For the whole of antiquity, in sum, what we have at our disposal (apart from Athens) is a scatter of documents from one end of the Mediterranean world to the other, the great majority of them isolated texts without a context … (37-38, boldface mine)

While Finley’s critique of history is strong, he does not assert that it is impossible to come up with a better accounting of the past, but that this requires a more systematic way to assemble and evaluate ancient sources, which he discusses in the book. It also requires that historians give up precious assumptions that have let them fool themselves into thinking they are able to unequivocally “tell ‘how it really was.'” (47)

ARK — 28 October 2014

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Indiana Jones

Credit: Wikimedia

Science writer Erik Vance posted a good piece this week titled “Why Archaeologists Hate Indiana Jones” at the science blog The Last Word on Nothing. His piece is a kind of companion and commentary to his more formal National Geographic article in August about looting at archaeological sites in Guatemala.

Much as we might get a kick out of Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequel films, when it comes down to it, Indiana Jones is not an archaeologist but a looter. As one Tulane archaeologist told Vance:

“That first scene, where he’s in the temple and he’s replacing that statue with a bag of sand — that’s what looters do. [The temple builders] are using these amazing mechanisms of engineering and all he wants to do is steal the stupid gold statue.”

Vance makes the point that

A real archaeologist would have taken a photo of it, told the Nazis they could have the stupid thing, and spent the next 10 years studying the temple’s booby traps.

The National Geographic article stresses the harm that is done through the looting of ancient sites. Some antiquities collector gets a few pots for his collection, and meanwhile a whole building gets destroyed. Those pots might be interesting and valuable, but their archaeological value is practically nil if no record is made of the context in which they were found.

I follow archaeology news because it informs my Edhai project, an historical fiction series set in ancient times. To keep in touch with me and to receive updates on my project, as well as my comments on ancient history, fiction writing, and other topics, please follow this link to sign up for my email newsletter: http://eepurl.com/2U3Uf

ARK — 11 September 2014

 

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What were people like in prehistoric times? British archaeologist and paleolinguist Colin Renfrew has some ideas. Renfrew’s book “Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind” is a discussion of findings from what’s referred to as “cognitive archaeology,” a theoretical model that tries to describe the thinking of ancient peoples by studying archaeological finds.

The book reads well and is useful and interesting for me, as my Edhai fiction project focuses on the remote past. I particularly appreciated Renfrew’s discussions of economics and trade in prehistoric times. As one might expect, Renfrew subscribes to a view of the past conventional in mainstream academia, filtered through darwinism and an inflated chronology of history and prehistory. Outside of those common assumptions, I find this book commendably free of speculation.

These comments are based on my review of “Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind” at Goodreads, where you can see what I’m reading, along with my other reviews.

ARK — 13 August 2014

 

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Robert Pershing Wadlow. via Wikimedia.

Robert Pershing Wadlow. via Wikimedia.

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post showing that some popular photos of giant skeletons were faked — see “Have Archaeologists Found Skeletons of Biblical Giants in Greece?

However, in that post I didn’t say much about whether giant humans could in fact have existed at one time. The “giant skeletons” article has been viewed tens of thousands of times and has received many comments from people who seem to take it personally that I exposed these photos as faked. Many took it that I was contradicting the Bible account in Genesis, which they believe speaks of a time when giant humans walked the earth.

I should point out that very large people have been known even in modern times. The American Robert Pershing Wadlow lived from 1918 to 1940. Wadlow reached 8 feet 11.1 inches (2.72 meters) and 492 pounds (223 kg). So it doesn’t seem impossible to suppose that a human could reach a height of 10 feet or so.

About giants in the Bible: According to 1 Sam. 17:4, the Philistine giant Goliath was six cubits and a span, about 9 ½ feet tall (2.9 meters). That’s not too much larger than Wadlow. Pre-flood creatures described at Gen. 6:1,2,4 are sometimes called “giants,” but the actual word used there is nefilim, meaning “fellers” in Hebrew, or those who cause others to fall down by striking them. The Bible doesn’t say how big they were.

giants6smallIf you look at the first faked photo I show in the “giant skeletons” post, you will see that it shows a skull appearing to be about five feet high (or 60 inches). If you figure that a normal human skull is about seven inches high, the skull in the faked photo would have to represent a human about 50 feet tall.

Could a human exist at a height of 40 feet, 50 feet, or more? It’s an interesting question, but it has been explored by competent researchers.

In 1928, geneticist J.B.S. Haldane wrote a well-known essay called “On Being the Right Size,” in which he wrote that “it is easy to show that a hare could not be as large as a hippopotamus, or a whale as small as a herring. For every type of animal there is a most convenient size, and a large change in size inevitably carries with it a change of form.” Haldane gives an extensive discussion of the relationship between size and function in living things, but he also addresses the problem of a giant human by supposing a human were the size of the giants Pope and Pagan in the version of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress that he, Haldane, had when he was a child. He shows what engineering problems would result from being so large:

Let us take the most obvious of possible cases, and consider a giant man sixty feet high — about the height of Giant Pope and Giant Pagan in the illustrated Pilgrim’s Progress of my childhood. These monsters were not only ten times as high as Christian, but ten times as wide and ten times as thick, so that their total weight was a thousand times his, or about eighty to ninety tons. Unfortunately the cross sections of their bones were only a hundred times those of Christian, so that every square inch of giant bone had to support ten times the weight borne by a square inch of human bone. As the human thigh-bone breaks under about ten times the human weight, Pope and Pagan would have broken their thighs every time they took a step.

Such problems are solved in nature by what we might call “right-sizing.” Haldane offers the example of the gazelle:

To turn to zoology, suppose that a gazelle, a graceful little creature with long thin legs, is to become large, it will break its bones unless it does one of two things. It may make its legs short and thick, like the rhinoceros, so that every pound of weight has still about the same area of bone to support it. Or it can compress its body and stretch out its legs obliquely to gain stability, like the giraffe. I mention these two beasts because they happen to belong to the same order as the gazelle, and both are quite successful mechanically, being remarkably fast runners.

Movie poster by Reynold Brown via Wikimedia.

Movie poster by Reynold Brown via Wikimedia.

Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope goes into greater detail about the structural problems of being a 50-foot-tall human in his post “Could an attacking 50-foot woman actually exist?” The reference here is to the science fiction movie Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

Adams explains that, according to the Principle of Similitude, “women, men, and critters in general can only get so big,” because “strength increases with the square of height while bulk increases with the cube.” So if an animal were to get taller while keeping the same proportions, it would get too weak to support its weight: “doubling the size of an animal while keeping its proportions the same increases the cross-sectional area of its muscles and bones by a factor of four while increasing its weight by a factor of eight.” Consequently, “if a woman starts off at five feet and 100 pounds and then grows to 50 feet, she’ll have 100 times the bone and muscle area but weigh 1,000 times as much — 50 tons.”

Adams also explains that a human of that size would run into insurmountable problems with its cardiovascular system, among other difficulties.

Given the engineering obstacles around human gigantism, I suggest that we all be satisfied with imagining giants of more modest size. After all, a nine-foot-tall guy would be pretty impressive, no?

ARK — 6 Nov. 2013

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I was researching metalworking in the ancient world and came across a mention of the “seven metals of antiquity.” I found a good short summary, “A Short History of Metals,” by Alan W. Cramb, a metallurgist who is now provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Cramb identifies “the metals upon which civilization was based” as:

  1. Gold (ca) 6000BC
  2. Copper (ca) 4200BC
  3. Silver (ca) 4000BC
  4. Lead (ca) 3500BC
  5. Tin (ca) 1750BC
  6. Iron,smelte, (ca) 1500BC
  7. Mercury (ca) 750BC

Cramb discusses each of these metals and their history in more detail and says that

These metals were known to the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks, and the Romans. Of the seven metals, five can be found in their native states, e.g., gold, silver, copper, iron (from meteors) and mercury. However, the occurrence of these metals was not abundant and the first two metals to be used widely were gold and copper.

One of the sources he lists is the much more extensive 1960 book, A History of Metals, by Leslie Aitchison. I found an electronic copy of this Aitchison book available through the HathiTrust. You might be able to get access to it if you have an account with an academic library.

Credit: Phirosiberia via Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Phirosiberia via Wikimedia Commons

ARK — 8 September 2013

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I recently learned about the field of anomalistics, that is, the study of scientific anomalies. This is a little-known area of investigation that attempts to take an even-handed approach to extraordinary claims. I found a good explanation of the field at the web site Skeptical Investigations. In an article, “The Perspective of Anomalistics,” by the now-deceased Marcello Truzzi (sociologist at Eastern Michigan University), Truzzi explains that anomalistics has “two central features”:

  1. Anomalistics’ “concerns are purely scientific,” so “it deals only with empirical claims of the extraordinary,” rather than metaphysical or religious ideas. Thus “it insists on the testability of claims (including both verifiability and falsifiability), seeks parsimonious explanations, places the burden of proof on the claimant, and expects evidence of a claim to be commensurate with its degree of extraordinariness (anomalousness).”
  2. Anomalistics is interdisciplinary in that an anomaly “is not presumed to have its ultimate explanation in a particular branch of science” and that it “seeks an understanding of scientific adjudication across disciplines.”

Truzzi popularized and possibly coined the term “pseudo-skeptic,” which he described in an article, “On Pseudo-Skepticism” as:

Since “skepticism” properly refers to doubt rather than denial — nonbelief rather than belief — critics who take the negative rather than an agnostic position but still call themselves “skeptics” are actually pseudo-skeptics and have, I believed, gained a false advantage by usurping that label.

I encountered the field of anomalistics reading an article claiming that an aluminum gear was found in a 300-million-year-old coal deposit in Russia. The article referred to “anomaly researcher and biologist Valery Brier, who took microscopic samples of the aluminum for testing.” I hadn’t heard previously of the term “anomaly researcher,” so I looked into it and encountered the anomalistics field, which seems useful and interesting. The discovery was also discussed in an article on The Voice of Russia web site.

ARK — 24 January 2013

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[Updated 22 May 2010]

I was intrigued recently when someone sent me a series of photos purporting to show the skeletons of giant humans excavated at archaeological sites. Here is an example to the right.

However, some quick Internet research revealed that these photos are all doctored. You can see all the photos at About.com — here is an explanation and analysis by urban-legends specialist David Emery: “Giants in Greece — Analysis.”

The photo shown here turns out to be an altered version of a 1993 photo from a dinosaur dig by the University of Chicago — see the original here.

From the detail shown below, you can see that the image of the skull is inconsistent with the rest of the photo — the inserted segment is flat, and one of the workers at the site even appears to have his foot on the skull:

Giant skull detail shows doctoring

[Update added 22 May 2010] A reader asked about another photo in the series, showing a skeleton with a hole in its temple, lying in a grave. I believe she is referring to this one (linked from the About.com article):

Photo of giant skeleton in a grave - probably a fake

David Emery points out that the skull in this photo show “incongruously bright highlights on the teeth and around the edges of the gaping temple wound.” I’m no expert at analyzing photos, but to me the skeleton in the photo looks like a black-and-white image, whereas the surface of the ground surrounding the hole seems to be in color, which is certainly the case in the image of the two people in the photo.

Here’s a detail showing the suspicious bright highlights on the image of the skull:

Detail from photo of supposed giant skeleton

All that said, just because somebody was able to fake some photos and a bunch of people believed them only proves that somebody can use image-editing software to fake photos and fool other people. It doesn’t mean that the Bible’s accounts about the Nephilim and other giants aren’t true.

The Bible’s account of the Nephilim appears in Gen. 6:1,2,4 — you can look up Bible texts here. Apparently the Nephilim were hybrids resulting from the marriage of materialized angels and human women. Most likely they were sterile and had no descendants themselves. They would not have survived the global deluge.

The historical account in the Bible does not say how tall the Nephilim were. It does, however, say that the height of the Philistine warrior Goliath was six cubits and a span, which would make him about 2.9 meters or 9 1/2 feet tall — see 1 Sam. 17:4.

This height is not much greater than the heights of some humans recorded in modern times — see this list at Wikipedia of the world’s tallest people.

[Update added 26 Nov. 2013: I’ve recently written a blog entry exploring how large a human could actually get, given the limitations of physics and biology — see “Could Giant Humans Exist?“]

It’s not impossible that fossil remains of pre-flood humans are among those that have been discovered in the past or that might be found in the future. However, you need to keep in mind that human (and animal) remains normally decompose completely without leaving any trace. Also, the flood waters would probably have been unimaginably violent and destructive and could have covered human remains with hundreds of meters of sediments, making them rare and difficult to recover.

One intriguing archaeological discovery was announced by a group that conducted digs very recently on Mount Ararat, where they uncovered a wooden structure high on the mountain that some believe is the ark of preservation built by the patriarch Noah — see “Group Claims New Noah’s Ark Find on Ararat.”

[Update from 11 Sept 2014] Readers interested in this post might want to know that I have started up an email newsletter. If you want to keep up with my writings about ancient history from a Biblical perspective, as well as progress on my historical fiction series The Edhai, please follow this link to sign up now: http://eepurl.com/2U3Uf

ARK — 10 May 2010

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A group of Chinese and Turkish explorers sponsored by Hong-Kong-based Noah’s Ark Ministries International (NAMI) has reported the discovery of a “4,800-year-old wooden structure on Mount Ararat in Turkey.” (Note that the organization’s Chinese-language web site does have an English version but is very slow-loading.)

Explorer inside the structure thought to be Noah's Ark

This is not the first time someone has reported finding Noah’s Ark — some previous claims have been dodgy — a lone tribesman coming forward years after his supposed visit — an anti-biblical hoaxter who made false claims about finding the ark, proving … what? … that people are capable of making false claims, I guess.

But this expedition has returned with artifacts and some stunning photo and video records showing a wooden structure with multiple compartments encased in ice and frozen earth — see this video of the team exploring inside the structure. The structure was found at a height of about 4,000 meters, which reportedly would place it above any tree growth and above any known human habitations.

At a press conference April 25, 2010, in Turkey,  NAMI organizational representative Man-fai Yuen said:

The search team and I personally entered a wooden structure high on the mountain. The structure is partitioned into different spaces. We believe that the wooden structure we entered is the same structure recorded in historical accounts and the same ancient boat indicated by the locals.

An announcement by the organization says that

Team members entered the wooden structure and proceeded to conduct field studies, take measurements and collect samples, with the entire process filmed. This is the first team in history ever to visually document the interior of the wood structure on the mountain.

Evidently, the group has been conducting secret expeditions to the site on Ararat since about June 2008. One explorer, Panda Lee, who visited the site in October 2008, reported what he saw:

At an elevation of more than 4,000 metres, I saw a structure built with plank-like timber. Each plank was about 8 inches wide. I could see tenons, proof of ancient construction predating the use of metal nails. We walked about 100 metres to another site. I could see broken wood fragments embedded in a glacier, and some 20 metres long. I surveyed the landscape and found that the wooden structure was permanently covered by ice and volcanic rocks. Prior to my expedition, the Turkish team had excavated the site to expose the structure.

Since the structure is broken up, team members have had to enter through various openings to explore the interior.

NAMI reports that Turkish officials intend to initiate scientific inquiries so the structure can be studied as an archaeological site.

NAMI’s web site has many photos and the video linked above. However, due to the slowness of their site, I recommend seeing the photos accompanying the Fox News story: “Has Noah’s Ark Been Found on Turkish Mountaintop?” Go here to see an interesting slide show: “Has Noah’s Ark Been Found?

The Bible’s account of the survival of the patriarch Noah and his family through a global deluge can be found at Genesis chapters 6-9 — go here to find the account in a modern-language translation.

Genesis 6:14-16 describes the ark as a ventilated box-like structure of three stories, constructed of wood and waterproofed with tar. The dimensions are given as 300 cubits long by 50 cubits wide and thirty cubits high. If a cubit was about 18 inches as commonly thought, this would be a structure 133 meters long, with a capacity of 1.4 million cubic feet. This would provide plenty of capacity for Noah, his family, a sufficiently broad representation of animal kinds, and food and provisions.

Although critics have called into question the capacity of the Ark and its ability to accommodate such a floating menagerie as that described in the Bible, these objections have been well countered by defenders of the Bible account. One example for those with an open mind: Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, by John Woodmorappe.

AB — 27 April 2010

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An inscription on a pottery fragment recently deciphered at the University of Haifa in Israel shows that Hebrew was in use during the 10th century BCE, much earlier than generally acknowledged by mainstream scholars.

An announcement from the University of Haifa (see “Most ancient Hebrew inscription deciphered“) says the inscription appears on a pottery shard 15 cm x 16.5 cm and was deciphered by Prof. Gershon Galil of the university’s Department of Biblical Studies. Galil has demonstrated that the inscription is Hebrew. Radioactive dating placed the fragment during the 10th century BCE, making this the oldest known example of Hebrew writing.

The writing’s distinctive use of verbs and particular content show it to be attributable to Hebrew and not to other cultures of the area at that time. Galil is quoted as saying,

This text is a social statement, relating to slaves, widows and orphans. It uses verbs that were characteristic of Hebrew, such as asah (“did”) and avad (“worked”), which were rarely used in other regional languages. Particular words that appear in the text, such as almanah (“widow”) are specific to Hebrew and are written differently in other local languages.

The content itself was also unfamiliar to all the cultures in the region besides the Hebrew society: The present inscription provides social elements similar to those found in the biblical prophecies and very different from prophecies written by other cultures postulating glorification of the gods and taking care of their physical needs.

Galil says this finding argues against the mainstream view that the Bible was written during a later period and that the kingdom of Israel didn’t exist that early.

Galil adds that

It can now be maintained that it was highly reasonable that during the 10th century BCE, during the reign of King David, there were scribes in Israel who were able to write literary texts and complex historiographies such as the books of Judges and Samuel.

Although the content does not appear to copy or quote from the Bible, the university says it is similar in content to such scriptures as Isa. 1:17, Ps. 72:3, and Ex. 23:3.

Translated into English, the text reads:

1′ you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].

2′ Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]

3′ [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]

4′ the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.

5′ Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

ARK — 15 January 2010

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Should the Neanderthal people be looked at as a group of humans that lived only before the Deluge or only after the Deluge — or both?

It’s an interesting question. What brings it to mind for me is the discovery of a Neanderthal skull fragment at the bottom of the North Sea, 15 km off the coast of the Netherlands — the first known human specimen ever to be found on a sea bed. For more details, see the BBC News article “Sea gives up Neanderthal fossil.”

As I understand it, mainstream researchers believe that the Neanderthals lived about 400,000-30,000 BP (before present). This would place their period of habitation during the Pleistocene, spanning the Middle, Lower, and Upper. I believe the Pleistocene is also considered concurrent with the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age.

Many consider this dating to be highly conjectural. Basing a dating system on radioactive techniques involves certain assumptions, and it is possible that these attributed time periods are ballooned by orders of magnitude.

So I guess there are multiple questions to consider:

  • Should the Pleistocene and Paleolithic in fact be considered concurrent?
  • Does it make sense to consider the Pleistocene as pre-flood, post-flood, during the flood, or some combination?
  • Or should the Pleistocene be thought of not so much by timeframe but by environmental circumstances? In other words, is what we think of as the Pleistocene merely an ancient environmental condition that could have occurred in various geographies during many time periods both pre- and post-flood?
  • Should Neanderthals be considered an extinct group that perished in the Deluge, or a natural (but now-extinct) human variety whose genetics survived with Noah and his family?

My current tendency is to consider the Pleistocene as a period starting before the Deluge, and continuing through the flood and a little after, as the flood waters and frozen areas retreated. I think of the Neanderthals as an exclusively post-flood race.

But I would be very interested in comments from other researchers on these questions.

Could the skull fragment found on the bed of the North Sea be a remain from someone who died in the Deluge? It’s an intriguing thought.

The BBC News article is fascinating and worth reading. Here is a link to a photo of the Neanderthal skull fragment (the bulge on the right is the man’s brow ridge):

And here is a link to a great artist’s rendering of what a Neanderthal man might have looked like — much more interesting (and probably more realistic) than the ape-like images so often put forward:

ARK — 18 June 2009

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