Or maybe it’s an adjacent possible thing and the ancient world was far more connected by trade than we often think. It’s easy to forget that these were “just” neighboring countries/kingdoms back then. A lot like today.
The illusion of linear progression we get from history class is largely an effect of “You can’t learn everything at once”
Custard Apples, which are native to Central America, were thought to have been introduced to India in the 1500's through Portuguese contact. A few years ago, they found a custard apple seed carbon dated to 1800 BC at an archaeological site in Northern India . Researchers still have no idea how it got there.
Seed dispersal has been extensively studied, so I’m confused by this paper. I took a glance at it and noticed it said nothing about birds or water. In the case of Hawaii, one of the most isolated archipelagos in the world, many plants arrived by water and birds. Wild strawberries in Hawaii, for example, have been traced to the Pacific Northwest, and are assumed to have started from the passing digestive tract of birds flying over the volcanoes from that direction. More recent research has given rise to a new theory of seed dispersal mutualism between plants and animals, since seeds passing though bird guts have an almost 400% increase in survival, due to various survival benefits arising from their storage in the digestive tract.
Funny how everything was introduced by us white european folk to the rest of the world. I wonder who wrote that version of history.
How much stuff do you think happened before we got there to see it happening and write about it for our branch of global science? We know for example that China had massive 14 mast ships and global-ish trade back when Europe was barely doing 3 masts as state of the art. And we know that Ancient Egypt traded as far as India
I understand that hating themselves is a favorite pastime of upper-middle class white Americans, but there is no reason to denigrate all white people for what was a very common attitude among all cultures.
That would be a difficult argument to make; classical Greece only goes back to about the eighth century BC. Mycenaean Greece goes much further back, but we can't observe most of the cultural continuity (though obviously there was a decent amount of it), because between Mycenaean Greece and classical Greece there was the Greek Dark Age of about 400 years when they forgot how to read and write. A cultural legacy of 2500 years total is a much fairer estimate than one of 3000 years.
As you note, though, the legacy of the classical world was itself interrupted and then purposefully reimported into Renaissance Europe. This is rather different from how, in the 4th century AD, there were still priests of the old religion in Babylon, reading tablets written thousands of years before them thanks to a historical tradition that had, at that point, never been interrupted.
Something I found charming from the wikipedia article on Sargon the Great is that the Babylonian king Nabonidus (6th century BC, "ancient" by any modern standard) sponsored archaeological research into his life. And well he might, since Sargon preceded Nabonidus by about 1800 years. But you just don't think about one ancient king supporting archaeology concerning another ancient king. Ancient is ancient, right?
For one thing, the Eastern Roman empire continued to exist until the 15th century and it is there that e.g. the Justinian code of law was devised, which, as far as I know, is still the basis of many modern legal systems, while itself being built upon ancient Roman law.
But even in Western Europe, Christianity can be seen as a continuation of the Roman Empire: It's not as if the religion hadn't been substantially changed and "romanised" after Constantine made it state religion. Also, in terms of scholarship, many key classical philosophers / scientists were never forgotten; Aristotle in particular remained a key influence. And, contrary to popular belief, middle ages scholars knew perfectly well that the earth was round, as had been shown by Ptolemy and others before him (they thought it was at the center of the universe, but as far as I know, nobody had successfully proven otherwise in antiquity either).
I agree with you. We have to be careful, and the middle ages were in many respects a natural development out of the classical world.
But they were a natural development that saw a radical upheaval in the culture. The organization that the Romans put in place largely fell apart, forgotten. Industrial production crashed. There was not a continuous transmission of tradition -- a large part of the Renaissance really was reading ancient texts to discover what they said. They had vanished from the living tradition.
> (they thought it was at the center of the universe, but as far as I know, nobody had successfully proven otherwise in antiquity either)
That's not something that -- to the best of our knowledge today -- it's possible to prove or disprove. (Similarly, if you conceive of "the earth" as the spherical surface rather than the solid ball, you'll be perfectly correct if you say that Rome is at the center. You'll also be correct if you say any other point is the center.)
What evidence we do have, interestingly enough, points towards the earth really being at the center of the universe. Redshift in every direction! We reject that conclusion for philosophical reasons, not because it's been disproved.
> Something I found charming from the wikipedia article on Sargon the Great is that the Babylonian king Nabonidus (6th century BC, "ancient" by any modern standard) sponsored archaeological research into his life.
Wow, never knew about this. I really want a term to come into the vernacular to describe history before ~800BC, because things really were completely different across Eurasia. In the Mediterranean and Middle East it was the revival of civilization after the Bronze Age collapse, in India it was the beginning of the Upanishadic era, and in China it was the beginning of the Spring and Autumn period. This  is sort of relevant.
(The Shang kings' names are actually ordinal markers -- something like Shang Fifth, Shang Second, etc -- but they did not reign in the order suggested by their names.)
Sima Qian, like Herodotus, receives a lot of credit for establishing history as a thing people kept track of. But he must have been working from some now-totally-lost fairly faithful sources.
And speaking of the coincidence between the recovery from the Bronze Age collapse and the Spring and Autumn period, I'm intrigued by the rough coincidence between the beginning of the Bronze Age collapse and the fall of the Shang dynasty. In that case, the coincidence is much rougher, though -- the Shang dynasty appears to fall about 100 years after the collapse.
I guess ancient is used to mean before 500BC because it has always meant that. It's a Roman word used by them to reference the time before them. As long as we use that word we already accept their point of view.
- "Treasure ships" (宝船, Bǎo Chuán) nine-masted, 44.4 by 18 zhang, about 127 metres (417 feet) long and 52 metres (171 feet) wide
The remnants of early European propaganda that justified a lot of their conquest is still strong today, we just forget it's origins.
In any case, I just don't think there wasn't a lot going on in Europe at this time for the "ancient alien" folks to attribute to aliens.
I’m not sure I agree with this. As someone living in Britain, I can attest to the fact that the people living on this island definitely consider it an integral part of their own cultural heritage.
As the other commenter said, I think most would consider it a part of Western culture.
My example here is 2001: A Space Odyssey. It all happens because of the monolith. Without it, we would surely still be monkeys killing each other with bones and stones. It's easy to see the monolith as symbolism for one or other religion.
And I hate that this is repeated through many other science fiction works.
One part of me always enjoyed those theories for the science fiction-ness of it. Some writeups i've seen about it read better than some science fiction books i've read.
The other part of me dislikes them though because it discounts the sheer human ingenuity, craftsmanship and skill that went into these things. It discounts the amazing things people are capable of and discredits our ancestors. I feel kind of the same way about the Roswell ufo tech leading to modern computers theories. They make light of the work of so many people and wave it off as being impossible without aliens.
What would be the other plausible explanation though? Considering fermi paradox etc...
Other plausible? However "Aliens" isn't the plausible explanation at all. The series' producer has a very specific agenda: to train the viewers to not believe the science (1) in his own words:
"It’s really a show about looking for God. Science would have you believe we are the result of nothing more than a chance assemblage of matter. The real truth is we don’t know."
Whereas in fact, science is also very much about knowing exactly what we don't know and where the limits of our knowledge are. Some people find that unsatisfying, compared to the wrong answers but giving assuring "certainty."
It particularly catches the people who won't attempt to analyze what is actually claimed there. 082349872349872 here (2) comments about how the claims in the series are constructed. I'd say "required reading" only to study how the underlying untrue "message" is packed in the series of non-sequitur claims, effectively navigating in the direction opposite of logic.
Gradualism means a version of history in which civilisation progresses gradually from less to more civilised over time. The opposite is a history in which there could have been moments when human civilization was more advanced way before our notion of recorded history, but suffered a massive hit to its existence. Then the civilisation after got rebuilt but with the previous culture and technological knowledge forgotten.
One such theory is by Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson . They present an explanation of history in which there could have been a more technologically advanced human culture even during ice age which got wiped out when ice age ended.
The end of ice age was completely sudden, which they explain by a meteor crash into the huge ice sheets causing large tsunamis and sudden ocean level increase which wiped out majority of advanced population living in cities right by the sea - same as today. Causing the advanced culture and its knowledge to cease to exist with remains being picked up or reused by more primitive people living in mainlands and forming cultures which are now basis of our civilisation.
Their version explains currently unexplained phenomena such as
1. sudden extinction of ice age animal species. Hordes of mammoths found dead with broken femur bones (killed by massive tsunami vs killed by mammoth hunters as explained by current dogma)
2. Big Flood myths found consistently across many independent cultures around the world
3. Technological regress in Egyptian culture - pyramids and pottery way more advanced in older periods than in later periods (forgotten technology)
4. Way more advanced technology of construction in older structures in Latin America (Cusco, Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuamán, Pumapunku) with advanced construction techniques unexplained still until today
5. Geological evidence of massive tsunamis such as large travelling stones (sliding on melting ice sheets) deep into mainland North America or massive water erosion corridors also possibly explained by large tsunamis
And yes in such limiting circumstances you need to develop a fringe fan base or let your findings die out.
As John Anthony West puts it
"... it was Victor Hugo who wrote the famous line there's one thing stronger than all the armies in the world and that is an idea whose time has come. You know that line was that the second strongest thing in the world is an idea whose time has not yet gone ..." .
 compare interpretation of reported speech in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23614277
 "Ancient alien theorists conclude X. What if it were true?"
I doubt we'll ever know half of it.
( In Antikythera )
The ideal of bucolic, rural life on a farm outside of hustle of a big city is part of Greek or Roman (and later European) culture. It wasn't a thing in literature of Middle East or Central Asia.
So the Roman or Greek intelectual will escape city in summer for his summer villa where he will still enjoy intelectual life with friends or through letters and write about pleasures of simple life. Intelectual in Middle East or North Africa will simply look down on nomads living extramuros as uncouth and illiterate.
"Alabama's state legislature resisted redistricting from 1910 to 1972 (when forced by federal court order). As a result, rural residents retained a wildly disproportionate amount of power in a time when other areas of the state became urbanized and industrialized, attracting greater populations. Such urban areas were under-represented in the state legislature and underserved; their residents had difficulty getting needed funding for infrastructure and services. They paid far more in taxes to the state than they received in benefits in relation to the population."
I think the historical political reasons for favouring landed interests is one of commitment: (a) as the spartan proposal of using a currency of iron implies, it's much easier for an urban magnate to "sell out" on short notice and continue trading in exile than for a rural magnate (consider the pejorative "rootless cosmopolitan"), and (b) that innovation is often greeted with scepticism: urban traders are sometimes interested in disrupting markets, agricultural producers are almost always for the status quo.
 from a game theory perspective, the urbanite would also prefer to defend their own city and either pay besiegers to go away or wait for their logistics to fail. if one is a monarch raising an army, rural dwellers would be more interested in travelling to defend their land (or even to acquire foreign land. cf "filibuster").
Compare "no viet cong ever called me", uttered by someone whose profession could be conducted anywhere there was a large venue.
 if one believes US political memes, ag policies favour the "family farm" and small towns. if one follows the money, they tend to favour the likes of Archer Daniels Midland.
12 beers, and 12 prostitutes, repeated for 12 nights, is the civilizing process. As Enkidu discovered and Gilgamesh already knew.
Take the stairway of a bygone era, draw near to Eanna, the seat of Ishtar the goddess, that no later king could ever copy! Climb Uruk's wall and walk back and forth! Survey its foundations, examine the brickwork! Were its bricks not fired in an oven? Did the Seven Sages not lay its foundations? [A square mile is] city, [a square mile] date-grove, a square mile is clay-pit, half a square mile the temple of Ishtar: [three square miles] and a half is Uruk's expanse.
All of my best friends were people i had tension with first.
Familiarity or something
There's also plenty of examples of different kind of early toilets/sewage systems from 3000 BC in different cultures:
I think you're conflating an image of victorian england with a world that existed 4000 years before.
Edit: as says the wikipedia article:
The Mesopotamians introduced the world to clay sewer pipes around 4000 BCE, with the earliest examples found in the Temple of Bel at Nippur and at Eshnunna, utilised to remove wastewater from sites, and capture rainwater, in wells. The city or Uruk also demonstrate the first examples of brick constructed Latrines, from 3200 BCE. Clay pipes were later used in the Hittite city of Hattusa. They had easily detachable and replaceable segments, and allowed for cleaning.
Actually ancient civilization used to be very fragile entities that were collapsing on a regular basis. Quite amazing that the state didn't disappear as a concept - the concept was attractive to rulers and states came back invariably after yet another deluge.
i got this perspective from “Against the Grain - a deep history of the earliest states” by James C. Scott . Wikipedia has more about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Against_the_Grain:_A_Deep_Hist...
The following is a hypothesis for how this could have occurred.
1. Hunter gathering requires a wider range of skills and knowledge than sedentary farming, such as knowing how to identify wild foods, being able to herd, ride, and hunt, and being self-sufficient with resources gathered on the move. If a generation of hunter-gatherers is prevented from living a nomadic lifestyle, this survival knowledge is lost and cannot be regained without costly and deadly trial and error. Moving from a nomadic to sedentary lifestyle is a one-way trip.
2. The environment hunter-gathers live in may suffer occasional periods of prey shortages due to unusual weather cycles causing ripples through the food chain. Although hunter-gathers can travel to find more food, there is a limit to how far they can search before resorting to drastic changes to their nomadic lifestyle in order to survive.
The first sedentary civilization could have been a band of hunter gathers that, during a period of prey shortages or simply because they were less skilled at hunting than competitors, resorted to farming in order to survive and forgot the skills they needed to revert to a nomadic lifestyle. But once they locked down a piece of fertile land and built up a food surplus, they could force other hunter-gathers to settle and farm during times of prey shortages as they would be the only source of stockpiled food in the neighborhood. Their descendants would be the first sedentary civilizations, and although they had less nutritious food and more labor-intensive lifestyles, it was more resilient to black-swan events that would wipe out a hunter-gatherer tribe and required less skill and knowledge in return for a life of hard labor. Once the first sedentary civilizations had a stable foundation, their high population growth and the inability of sedentary peoples to switch to a nomadic lifestyle and escape their rulers would set the historical trend.
I read that in Mesopotamia what came first was an economy centered around the temple, kings and state were a later invention. so it was probably a gradual build up. The temple economy may have been slightly less coercive,
Also there is the curious tale of Urukagina and his reforms - (has some parallels to the story of Akhenaten in Egypt) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urukagina ; incidentially the reformer guy Urukagina was not quite as tough as his predecessor and lost out to his external competitors. Having been seen as a lenient ruler was probably not a winning strategy
But these are all speculations.