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11 December 2011 (USA)  »

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Wow! Chauvet is an information depository!
8 March 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Typical History/Discovery Channel pander to the lunatic fringe, with one twist: Civilizations does a good job of reprising the initial discoveries of its subjects (Uber, the Minoans, Gobeki Tepe et al) before going off the deep end. My favorite is Gobeki Tepe - a site in Turkey containing monumental structures built by hunter/gatherers around 10,000 B.C.

This site show how sophisticated pre-Neolithic cultures could get, even without agriculture. More importantly, it shows that hunter/gatherers could 'settle' into long-lived communities (Gobeki Tepe lasted 2000 years) under favorable conditions - in this case a lush, Eden-like ecosystem replete with game and wild grains. Makes sense, if you think about it, but most cultural anthropologists never have so the idea came as a complete shock to those academics. A point Civilizations makes very clearly; just before it ascribes the lushness of Gobeki Tepe's environment to Noah's Ark.

That is the pattern and the frustration, a kind of yes, yes, yes - What! Each example making a Bohrian Quantum Jump from reality to fantasy in the same NoTime as Bohr's electrons.

That's where Chauvet comes in, during an segment exploring how we could preserve our culture in underground caverns, coming to the startling conclusion that that's exactly what Chauvet is, a pre-Neolithic culture's cultural depository.

And then Civilizations really jumps the track, presenting wacko after wacko who argues that Advanced Cultures representing who-knows-what 'intelligent' species could go back billions of years - the Flintstones on steroids.

Do these guys, the producers, do this for fun? Or are they Aliens satirizing the Human tendency to make truly bizarre conclusions from perfectly reasonable premises?

Update 2014-04-28

Back to Gobeki Tepe: It's located smack dab in the middle between the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates and may well have been the specific template for Eden.

Or not. There were actually quite a few Eden-like, long-lived 'paradises' between the headwaters and the mouth of the Two Rivers, any or all of which could have inspired that longing for Eden, a longing for the good old days of hunting and gathering, once they were gone, forcing cultures into eventual Patriarchalism based on agriculture and animal husbandry.


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