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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 06:05 PM
Original message
The REAL "Old Europe" - the forgotten Vinca culture

Old Europe

Before Sumer, Crete or the Maltese civilisation, there was Old Europe, or the Vinca culture a forgotten, rather than lost civilisation that lies at the true origin of most of our ancient civilisations.

Philip Coppens


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There are lost civilisations, and then there are forgotten civilisations. From the 6th to the 3rd millennium BC, the so-called Vinca culture stretched for hundreds of miles along the river Danube, in what is now Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia, with traces all around the Balkans, parts of Central Europe and Asia Minor, and even Western Europe.
Few, if any, have heard of this culture, though they have seen some of their artefacts. They are the infamous statues found in Sumer, where authors such as Zecharia Sitchin have labelled them as extra-terrestrial, seeing that the shapes of these beings can hardly be classified as typically human. So why was it that few have seen (or were aware of) their true origin?

The person largely responsible for the isolation of the Vinca culture was the great authority on late prehistoric Europe, Vere Gordon Childe (1892-1957). He was a synthesiser of various archaeological discoveries and tried to create an all-encompassing framework, creating such terms as "Neolithic Revolution" and "Urban Revolution". In his synthesis, he perceived the Vinca culture as an outlying cultural entity influenced by more civilised forces. His dogmatic stance and clout meant that the Vinca culture received only scant attention. Originally, interest in the signs found on pottery had created interest in some academic circles, but that now faded following Childes papal bull.
Interest was rekindled in the 1960s (following the death of Childe), largely due to a new discovery made in 1961 by Dr. N. Vlassa, while excavating the Transylvanian site of Tartaria, part of Vinca culture. Amongst various artefacts recovered were three clay tablets, which he had analysed with the then newly introduced radiocarbon dating methodology. The artefacts came back as ca. 4000 BC and were used by the new methodologys detractors to argue that radio carbon-dating was obviously erroneous. How could it be that old?

Traditionally, the Sumerian site of Uruk had been dated to 3500-3200 BC. Vlassas discovery was initially (before the carbon dating results) further confirmation that the Vinca Culture had strong parallels with Sumer. Everyone agreed that the Sumerians had influenced Vinca Culture (and the site of Tartaria), which had therefore been assigned a date of 2900-2600 BC (by the traditional, comparative methodology, which relied on archaeologists logic, rather than hard scientific evidence). Sinclair Hood suggested that Sumerian prospectors had been drawn by the gold-bearing deposits in the Transylvanian region, resulting in these off-shoot cultures.
But if the carbon dating results were correct, then Tartaria was 4000 BC, which meant that the Vinca Culture was older than Sumer, or Sumer was at least a millennium older than what archaeologists had so far assumed. Either way, archaeology would be in a complete state of disarray and either some or all archaeologists would be wrong. Voila, the reason as to why radio carbon dating was attacked, rather than merely revising erroneous timelines and opinions.

There is no debate about it: the artefacts from the Vinca culture and Sumer are very much alike. And it is just not some pottery and artefacts: they share a script that seems highly identical too. In fact, the little interest that had been shown in the Vinca culture before the 1960s all revolved around their script. Vlassas discovery only seemed to confirm this conclusion, as he too immediately stated that the writing had to be influenced by the Near East. Everyone, including Sinclair Hood and Adam Falkenstein, agreed that the two scripts were related and Hood also saw a link with Crete. Finally, the Hungarian scholar Janos Makkay stated that the Mesopotamian origin is beyond doubt. It seemed done and dusted.
But when the Vinca Culture suddenly predated Sumer, this thesis could no longer be maintained (as it would break the archaeological framework, largely put in place by Childe and his peers), and thus, today, the status is that both scripts developed independently. Of course, we should wonder whether this is just another attempt to save reputations and whether in the following decades, the stance will finally be reversed, which would mean that the Vinca Culture is actually at the origin of the Sumerian civilisation a suggestion we will return to shortly.

But what is the Vinca Culture? In 1908, the largest prehistoric and most comprehensively excavated Neolithic settlement in Europe was discovered in the village of Vinca, just 14 km downstream from the Serbian capital Belgrade, on the shores of the Danube. The discovery was made by a team led by Miloje M. Vasic, the first schooled archaeologist in Serbia.

Vinca was excavated between 1918 and 1934 and was revealed as a civilisation in its own right: a forgotten civilisation, which Marija Gimbutas would later call Old Europe. Indeed, as early as the 6th millennium BC, three millennia before Dynastic Egypt, the Vinca culture was already a genuine civilisation. Yes, it was a civilisation: a typical town consisted of houses with complex architectural layouts and several rooms, built of wood that was covered in mud. The houses sat along streets, thus making Vinca the first urban settlement in Europe, but equally being older than the cities of Mesopotamia and Egypt. And the town of Vinca itself was just one of several metropolises, with others at Divostin, Potporanj, Selevac, Plocnik and Predionica. Maria Gimbutas concluded that in the 5th and early 4th millennia BC, just before its demise in east-central Europe, Old Europeans had towns with a considerable concentration of population, temples several stories high, a sacred script, spacious houses of four or five rooms, professional ceramicists, weavers, copper and gold metallurgists, and other artisans producing a range of sophisticated goods. A flourishing network of trade routes existed that circulated items such as obsidian, shells, marble, copper, and salt over hundreds of kilometres. Everything about Old Europe is indeed older than anything else in Europe or the Near East. To return to their script. Gimbutas had a go at trying to translate it and called it the language of the goddess. She based her work on that of Shan Winn, who had completed the largest catalogue of Vinca signs to date. He narrowed the number of signs down to 210, stating that most of the signs were composed of straight lines and were rectilinear in shape. Only a minority had curved lines, which was perhaps due to the difficulty of curved carving on the clay surface. In a final synthesis, he concluded that all Vinca signs were found to be constructed out of five core signs:
- a straight line;
- two lines that intersect at the centre;
- two lines that intersect at one end;
- a dot;
- a curved line

...cont'd
http://www.philipcoppens.com/oldeurope.html
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 06:29 PM
Response to Original message
1. Utterly fascinating!
I'd never heard of this civilization before--thanks for the link to a fascinating read!
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 08:27 PM
Response to Reply #1
21. I second that. And it just occurred to me...
It would have galled anyone from Western Europe to believe the cradle of civilization was in despised Eastern Europe. So they simply didn't believe it.

Same as they refused to believe the chronology of Egypt is off. They have the weirdest formula for doctoring carbon 14 dates from Egyptian artifacts to make them come out "right."
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Nihil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-25-06 03:36 PM
Response to Reply #21
32. There is a lot to learn with an open mind.
> Same as they refused to believe the chronology of Egypt is off.
> They have the weirdest formula for doctoring carbon 14 dates from
> Egyptian artifacts to make them come out "right."

That is a point that always bugs me - not only for the impact on Egyptian
artifacts/history but because it gives a wedge for anyone else who wants
to disagree with C14 dating (e.g., Creationists).

If only people were honest about the Egyptian chronology then a lot of
the tortuous "explanations" for apparently anomalous events would be
shown to be the falsehoods they are (largely to prop up academic reputations).
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 06:34 PM
Response to Original message
2. I've read all of Marja Gimbutas's books on it. Facinating stuff.
I knew Gimbutas back in the sixties. No, we weren't best friends but nodding acquaintances. I worked in the same building her department was in at UCLA. I had hoped to transfer to her department if there was an opening so I hung around occasionally for the scuttlebutt to find out if anyone was quitting. It was such a tiny department then with only a couple of office workers who never quit.
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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. Lucky you! Anything to share?
I was completely taken by surprise by this information. Truly fascinating!
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. About Marja? No. She was a warm person, but the academics
usually don't mingle with the office help from other departments although she always had a nice smile for you when passing you in the hall. She wasn't accepted by her fellow anthropologists though because of her interpretation that "Old Europe" was a matriarchal society. The male dominated field couldn't accept this and many of them like Colin Renfrew were downright rude in their condemnation of her work. Sexism at it's worst.

She actually started in the field as an academic in the Indo European cultures of Europe and Central Asia. It's when she started to study the civilization stratas below the patriarchal Bronze Age cultures that the picture of a completely different society ruled by women equal to men began to emerge.
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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 07:03 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Not so much about her, but about this topic? n/t
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 07:20 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. There's a lot. She talks about the nacent writing,
Edited on Sat Dec-23-06 07:22 PM by Cleita
what they used for daily life and particularly their religion, the temples they built within their communities and the ritual objects found in them. She devotes chapters to what they wore, their hairstyles, ornaments and the ovens they baked bread in. The ovens were protected by pregnant goddesses. I guess they too thought of the "bun in the oven" metaphor we also use in our day and age. Of course she covers more than the Vinca culture and connects this Old Europe culture to the henges and dolmens found through Europe.

For the purpose of just this little post, I can tell you why she came to this conclusion. She formulated her theory that the Indo-European patriarchal horsemen from the Eurasian steppes overan these cultures over a period of time consistent with the beginning of the Bronze Age. They had horses and they had bronze weapons, so many weapons that they could be called a warlike culture unlike the peaceful farmers and pastoralists they overan and either killed or enslaved. She said they had few weapons. Also, she discovered a burial of a group of skeletons of people all running in the same direction and showing wounds and arrowheads like they had been mowed down while running away.

Apparently the face of Europe was changed with these new conquerors, which is why we have a patriarchal society and speak Indo-European languages.


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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 07:31 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Sounds plausible. I'll have to get some of her books. Any recommendations?n/t
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #13
26. The one where she pulls all her theories together and offers
the factual material that leads her in this direction.

"The Civilization of the Goddess, The World of Old Europe" by Marija Gimbutas. My copy is from 1991.
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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 09:40 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Thanks. I'll look for it at the next opportunity. n/t
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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-24-06 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #26
31. A documentary film was made about Gimbutas, narrated by Olympia Dukakis.
Looks interesting:

http://www.belili.org /


Marija Gimbutas (Wikipedia page)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marija_Gimbutas
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 07:43 PM
Response to Reply #11
16. Does she have a date for the running skeletons?
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #16
25. It's in one of her books. It's an approximate carbon date.
Right now before the holidays, I don't have time to look it up for you.

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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-25-06 08:00 PM
Response to Reply #16
34. Okay, I found it and it's about the LBK or Linearbandkeramik culture.
In Talhime, east of River Neckar is southwestern Germany, thirty-four skeletons of murdered people--men, women and children--were uncovered in a pit dug into the settlement area of the LBK (several potsherds of late LBK were found in the debris, but no other finds were associated with the skeletons). At least eighteen skulls had large holes in the back or top from thrusts of stone axes or flint points, which suggests that the people were killed from behind, perhaps as they fled. Skeleton were found in a pit 1.5 by 3.1 m across and l.5 m deep in chaotic order and positions, with females, males and children mixed together. Since murdered people were buried in the cultural layer of the LBK culture with radiocarbon dates indicating early 5th millenium B.C., the massacare must of happened after this time, probably within the Rossen period.


This is on page 365 of "The Civilization of the Goddess, The World of Old Europe".
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 08:21 PM
Response to Reply #7
20. It's funny how men ignore all that.
I've got a beautiful book of translated Egyptian poetry. Patriarchal? Yes. But...the poetry makes it clear that the person who arranged marriages in a family was the MOTHER. That's a damn powerful role to have in the family. It shrieks matriarchal vestige.

And then there's the Man the Mighty Hunter malarkey. Seems the principle diet of early humans was bunny. Bunny caught with a net. The earliest appurtenance of the goddess was her net. While Daddy was off maiming mastodons, Mommy was boiling the bunny and feeding junior.
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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-24-06 12:41 AM
Response to Reply #2
29. NELC?
I was a grad student the year after Gimbutas retired and had the "pleasure" of helping to pack up her stuff. Which mean packing up her stuff for her. Huge mound of boxes that she wanted shipped to the library in Lithuania she designated for her papers; the dept. said no, they had no budget for it, and there they sat for months in the Slavic dept. office. They all vanished one day and I couldn't bring myself to ask.

Was she in Slavic in the '60s? And if so, was Slavic in Kinsey back then?
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-25-06 11:46 PM
Response to Reply #29
35. Isn't this what graduate students do?
As a really low rung office worker, I sometimes couldn't quite meet all the demands of the professors without help from the graduate students in the department I worked in. No one questioned the garbage work when Prof. XXXX demanded it. Of course, they were all male. Was there a problem with you that you had to pack all those boxes for a woman?
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acmavm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 06:38 PM
Response to Original message
3. Whoa! This just proves that we are NOT as damn
smart as we think we are.
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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Us? Smart? We created global warming which threatens the whole planet!
Smarts without wisdom is worthless and dangerous.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 06:41 PM
Response to Original message
4. That explains a lot about the "Ice Man" found in the Alps
some years ago. One of his possessions was a copper axe, something that was not supposed to have existed during his time.

Since the Vinca were determined to be a peaceful civilization, it seems likely they were a matriarchal one, or at least one in which the sexes held checks on each other's power.

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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 07:05 PM
Response to Reply #4
9. Forgotten all about the iceman. And how is it we know so little about
matriarchal societies and their functioning? We sure could use some alternative models for how to live in harmony...
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 07:15 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. I like the Mohawk
The men got to run a lot of things, but the Grandmother Lodge, the tribe's female elders, had veto power over a lot of it, especially the decision of going to war.

That's why they were mostly peaceful until the Dutch came in and started giving their country away to each other.

They predicted eventual disaster when the constitution was written, keeping many of the checks and balances against any one person or group gaining too much power, but eliminating the grandmother lodge.

They were right.
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 07:31 PM
Response to Reply #4
12. I doubt they were "determined" to be peaceful.
They just didn't have the pressures on them that creates war.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 07:39 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. The only pressure needed is that from men who want to be
a warrior society.
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 08:14 PM
Response to Reply #14
19. One day they woke up and said, "Today let's kill our neighbors"?
Usually people would rather not be bothered. What made them bother? Why be warriors instead of hunters, farmers, minstrels? A warrior can get really really hurt. So what made it attractive? The first time, not afterward when there was a tradition. What made it appealing the first time?

Keep in mind that most cultures practiced exogamy...they married in the next village rather than their own.

Keep in mind that warrior is a luxury profession. He does nothing to feed himself. Someone else has to do it. Where does his food come from?

If a man can't grow his own food, if his livestock have died, he might well kill anyone who does have those things to feed himself and his family.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 04:18 PM
Response to Reply #14
39. You have it backwards.
War creates patriarchal societies, not the other wau around. My hypothesis is that early European neolithic cultures were sexually equal to only slightly patriarchal (there have been no truely matriarchal societies IIRC). As the population density increased there was more conflict because of resource compitition, this increased the importance of young men in the society relatie to youg women because those young men became warriors, thus creating a society biased towards males.
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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 07:42 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. Really? What do you know about the pressures on them?
Is this a subject you are familiar with? If so, please share more.
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 08:02 PM
Response to Reply #15
18. Around 2000 BC there was some kind of climactic upheaval.
And I'm pretty loose about that 2000 BC, like 500 years loose, but arable land became desert, there were massive floods all over the planet. People were forced to leave land that wouldn't support them anymore.

And good luck if you find agreement about what caused it. But the upshot was massive population movement, the rise of writing and the beginning of what we call history. Maybe writing didn't spread just to keep accounts. Maybe traumatized people were desperate to record the extraordinary events they witnessed.

The Bible has some grim descriptions of events we've been pretending for centuries were just made up. There are Egyptian wall inscriptions of skeletal, starving Egyptians. The Chinese have no clear history before then, when some king solved the problem of a huge flood. It was worldwide, whatever the hell it was.

Just recently, someone posted the discovery of crater marks on this planet that had been previously overlooked. We could have been hit by some really nasty stuff. There are stories of huge lakes that broke and flooded into the sea, one of them creating the Sahara which means "red sand" in Sumerian, but maybe that's just a story.

One thing, major religious movements date from that time, and myths all over the world tell of old gods dethroned. Like the Republicans, they failed to deliver and were dumped.
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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 08:53 PM
Response to Reply #18
22. Perhaps I misunderstood, but what I thought you were suggesting was
that the Vincas might have, themselves, become more warlike were they 'under pressure'. I'm not seeing any evidence that this would have been their way of dealing with these pressures, regardless of what they were. Some cultures might become violent due to survival pressures, but is that the only possible response? I wonder...

So it would be interesting to learn what pressures the Vinca's did encounter throughout that culture's life span, and how they responded.
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 09:58 PM
Response to Reply #22
28. Well, they worshipped an owl goddess.
I went link clicking from this thread and wound up looking at pictures of Ki Ri Ke, the owl goddess whose head they put on the bodies of women in their figurines. The other references just said "bird goddess" which could be anything. Owl, however, is associated with comets in several cultures. Doesn't mean that's the case here, but it jolted me.

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Han_Dynasty_silk_comet_atl... >
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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 07:55 PM
Response to Original message
17. The Vincas - from Wikepedia
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YankeyMCC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 09:02 PM
Response to Original message
23. Interesting and valuable
The more we learn about past civilizations and their successes and Failures the more we can learn about the kinds of mistakes we're making. See actual examples.

Not that we're generally good at learning from history, even recent history, but if we don't know it we're certainly not going to learn from it even in the rare moment we do learn a lesson.

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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 05:02 PM
Response to Reply #23
36. I just finished reading two works by Jared Diamond wherein he
Edited on Tue Dec-26-06 05:02 PM by Cleita
discusses the failures and successes of past and present civilizations. You might find them interesting if you haven't already read them. They are:

"Guns, Germs and Steel; The Fates of Human Societies"

"Collapse; How Societies Choose To Fail or Succeed"
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YankeyMCC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 08:29 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. Read them last year...great stuff nt
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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 10:29 PM
Response to Reply #36
38. After reading that "Collapse..." book, would you say America is choosing to fail?
Edited on Tue Dec-26-06 10:30 PM by Dover
What are the signs?

Of course, by continuing to be the biggest polluters on the planet we are also choosing for other countries....and the planet as a whole. Do we realize our choice?
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 07:01 PM
Response to Reply #38
41. I think this is Diamond's message, that we have to change our
ways to save not only us but our planet. But we can't do anything until we make the people understand that corporate control of everything is what is causing this and we better grab that dragon by the tail before it's too late.
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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 09:17 PM
Response to Original message
24. Fascinating. Thanks for posting.
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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-24-06 01:11 AM
Response to Original message
30. "Vinca" confused me; Russian archeologists talk about the
Edited on Sun Dec-24-06 01:12 AM by igil
Old European culture a bit, and Sedov, who fusses extensively about the origins and development of the Slavs, goes on and on about them in one of his tomes. I grew tired of looking at pictures of fibulae and pottery shards and stressing out trying to learn all the terms for various artefacts in English; I know more in Russian than in my native language because of Sedov and his ilk. (I'm a linguist of sorts, but was really into historical linguistics and Slavic ethnogensis at the time.) The site you link to is more interesting, in that there are summaries and syntheses of the evidence, not scores of pages of detailed descriptions of artefacts.

"Vinca" drops off the hacek (as does hacek, I guess it's also called a caron), and is pronounced "Vincha". They can fairly routinely get the accents on Spanish and French names, but they can't get C. European diacritics. Argh.

It's worth remembering that the crops used by the OEs were mostly domesticated c. 9-10k years ago in S. Anatolia or thereabouts; where cattle originated is a bit harder to pin down, there are no wild stocks to compare modern varieties with. Settlements dating to 5-6k BC or before have been identified in S. Anatolia ... and show signs of warfare.

I think the theory I like best about the development of patriarchy is tied up with livestock; as livestock's introduced, societies pretty much always (but not always, IIRC) go patriarchal. It's hard to document in Europe, but I think they have good evidence of this in Africa. Gimbutas wouldn't have liked the implication; large swaths of Old European culture raised livestock. But she was always an outlier in her own field; she did lots of really interesting work, but she certainly had an idee fixe.

It would be interesting to see images of the tablets that were mentioned.
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Nihil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-25-06 03:36 PM
Response to Original message
33. Thanks for posting that! (N/T)
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 04:25 PM
Response to Original message
40. I've never really been a big fan of Gimbutas
IMO she overstates the differences between the Indo-European speaking pastorialists and the "Old Europe" farmers. IMO the farmers weren't as peaceful and matriarchal she makes them out to be and the early Indo-European speakers weren't as warlike as she thought.
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