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Comparative History: the Americas & the Old World

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    Posted: 16 Jun 2013 at 21:16
In biology and other sciences, it is basic to compare the development of different objects to establish general rules. In zoology, for instance, the evolution theory is sophisticated enough to distinguish between chains of ancestry and just casual parallel evolution (for instance, why seals and fish had fins, or why dolphins, sharks and ictiosauros have the same body shape).

In history there is an spectacular case of parallel evolution, which is the development of art, societies, techniques and sciences in absolute isolation between the Americas and the Mediterranean-Eurasians civilizations.

I wonder why there isn't a full field in history dedicated to study these parallelism, given that could be the clue we need to understand how civilizations (in general) develop.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lao Tse Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2013 at 00:36
Perhaps the reason why it isn't studied is because the parallels are so subtle. For example, the temples in Cambodia often have pyramids, as do the Mayan, Aztec and Egyptian. BUT, the differences in architecture disguise it to be un-noticed. Another example is in mythology, like Noah's ark and Yu's canal. We will never be sure if either person existed, but it is quite strange that both involve a massive flood caused by a higher authority wanting to start over by wiping clean all life.
在財富的害處,而是一件好事永遠不持續。我在和平中仅居住在新的風下。 Wei Jia Hong No harm in wealth, but a good thing doesn't last forever. I live only among peace under
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2013 at 08:13
I think such "parralelism" at least must be aware of the huge differences between sciences as biology on the one hand and history on the other, though it may work in some fields of history too.
One problem is that the "old world" and the "new" are so diverse and heterogenous. Only seen from a purely natural geographically point of view they can be seen as weel-defined entitties. The other "trap" for such parralel studies is they have for centuries not been isolated, but very much the opposite. So if we go into such parralel studies we should be somewhat cautious I think.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Voltage Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2013 at 14:28
Originally posted by Lao Tse Lao Tse wrote:

Another example is in mythology, like Noah's ark and Yu's canal. We will never be sure if either person existed, but it is quite strange that both involve a massive flood caused by a higher authority wanting to start over by wiping clean all life.
 
Over 350 different cultures have some version of Noah's flood (Hawii, and the Aztics come to mind in the west and babylon in the east).  
 
I would say that is enough proof to say that a world wide flood truly happaned.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lao Tse Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2013 at 20:18
Originally posted by Voltage Voltage wrote:

Originally posted by Lao Tse Lao Tse wrote:

Another example is in mythology, like Noah's ark and Yu's canal. We will never be sure if either person existed, but it is quite strange that both involve a massive flood caused by a higher authority wanting to start over by wiping clean all life.
 
Over 350 different cultures have some version of Noah's flood (Hawii, and the Aztics come to mind in the west and babylon in the east).  
 
I would say that is enough proof to say that a world wide flood truly happaned.

That's what I was saying, I just didn't want to list all 350 cultures because I don't have time to check spelling or do research further than what I already know. And I'm not denying the flood, I'm just saying: Will we ever really be sure that the people who are described to be the heroes or heroines really existed? Likely not, there's only written evidence and evidence of a flood that occurred world-wide.
在財富的害處,而是一件好事永遠不持續。我在和平中仅居住在新的風下。 Wei Jia Hong No harm in wealth, but a good thing doesn't last forever. I live only among peace under
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Voltage Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2013 at 21:49
And extreme edvidence of a advanced culture before that flood.  Batteries, nails, and other objects that "primitive man" are not supposed to have. 
 
Even Nasa is strating to admit a world wide flood.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lao Tse Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2013 at 01:47
Again, no one is denying that a flood occurred around the world, it's just that we will never be absolutely sure that the heroes or heroines of the flood ever existed, the only evidence of one hero existing is the Grand Canal, but it can still be disputed who built the canal originally. There's always been evidence of advanced culture that was destroyed under mysterious circumstances, and perhaps the world-wide flood is the actual cause of it.

Your argument saying the flood did occur is actually valid, but it cannot be used for everything. For example: the Cherokee Native Americans do believe that a dragon exists, as do hundreds of cultures in Asia, and in many legends in Europe, but does that mean that dragons exist? Not necessarily, but maybe they did and went extinct, or they're just folklore, or they could really exist somewhere and we have yet to find them, but we may never know.

Again, not denying that the world-wide flood didn't exist, just saying that although the argument that it had happened is quite valid, it may not be used for everything.
在財富的害處,而是一件好事永遠不持續。我在和平中仅居住在新的風下。 Wei Jia Hong No harm in wealth, but a good thing doesn't last forever. I live only among peace under
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2013 at 03:40
Originally posted by Lao Tse Lao Tse wrote:

Perhaps the reason why it isn't studied is because the parallels are so subtle. For example, the temples in Cambodia often have pyramids, as do the Mayan, Aztec and Egyptian. BUT, the differences in architecture disguise it to be un-noticed. Another example is in mythology, like Noah's ark and Yu's canal. We will never be sure if either person existed, but it is quite strange that both involve a massive flood caused by a higher authority wanting to start over by wiping clean all life.


There are many parallels in technical development. For instance, not only agriculture and cities developed in parallel in the New and the Old. Inventions like the manufacture of textiles, paper-making, the aztec game of patoli (which is the American equivalent of parcheesi), the burning mirrors, bronze metalurgy, sail in navigation, zero, the golden ratio, writing and a thousand of other inventions, developed in both regions without mutual influence. For me, that's something that deserve closer attention and not just same infantile pre-columbian contact theories for dummies and ignorants.

I think, we could learn quite a lot about the development of human societies analizing those parallels. Even more, I think we could realize human progress is not something that happens at random but that is unavoidable.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2013 at 03:42
Originally posted by Voltage Voltage wrote:

And extreme edvidence of a advanced culture before that flood.  Batteries, nails, and other objects that "primitive man" are not supposed to have. 
 
Even Nasa is strating to admit a world wide flood.


Please, we are not talking about "ancient astronauts" in this topic, but about real history and accepted archaeology. Confused


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2013 at 03:47
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

The other "trap" for such parralel studies is they have for centuries not been isolated, but very much the opposite. So if we go into such parralel studies we should be somewhat cautious I think.


On the contrary. During centuries the European man, with his inferiority complex, has tried to demonstrate pre-columbian contacts, just to downplay the achievements of ancient Americans. And nothing has come from those "studies", beside wild fantasies, and some religions like mormonism. The first Europeans that arrived to the Americas were the Norse, who stayed during a little bit in Newfoundland. Before that, the Americas were isolated, with the interesting exception of the Inuits who arrived to this continent from Asia perhaps 2 thousand years ago.

Today, any decent archaeologist recognize the development in the Americas is due to natives. And today it is accepted that the inventions in the New World were the result of inventions of locals. Even more, some inventions weren't replicated in the Old World before contact!

And indeed, we should be cautious, particularly when assigning to outsiders the achievements of Native Americans, because that is simply robbery.


.


Edited by pinguin - 18 Jun 2013 at 03:50
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2013 at 04:28
I am of the opinion that since water is necessary to life, and villages tend to be established within easy distance of a water source, all early civilizations experienced floods. The idea that they all occurred at the same time on a global scale seems a bit stretched, but remains within the realm of possibility depending upon what weather conditions were present at any given epoch.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2013 at 07:04
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

The other "trap" for such parralel studies is they have for centuries not been isolated, but very much the opposite. So if we go into such parralel studies we should be somewhat cautious I think.


On the contrary. During centuries the European man, with his inferiority complex, has tried to demonstrate pre-columbian contacts, just to downplay the achievements of ancient Americans. And nothing has come from those "studies", beside wild fantasies, and some religions like mormonism. The first Europeans that arrived to the Americas were the Norse, who stayed during a little bit in Newfoundland. Before that, the Americas were isolated, with the interesting exception of the Inuits who arrived to this continent from Asia perhaps 2 thousand years ago.

Today, any decent archaeologist recognize the development in the Americas is due to natives. And today it is accepted that the inventions in the New World were the result of inventions of locals. Even more, some inventions weren't replicated in the Old World before contact!

And indeed, we should be cautious, particularly when assigning to outsiders the achievements of Native Americans, because that is simply robbery.


.
I simply meant at least for the last about 5 centuries the Americas were not isolated. If we only discuss the ages before about 1500(it was not made explicit the discussion exclude the last 5 centuries), and after initial settlement waves of humans I agree a very high degree of isolation seems to have been the case, since most "trans-oceanic" contact theories are probably with good reasons not commonly accepted. I have not seen any serious claims made the norse made much if any lasting impact even upon the natives they met, so if anybody else made it over the Atlantic Ocean before them, they most likely did not.
My own impression is that there were as much differences as parralels, between those parts of the planet, and that many things that oin the surface seems "similar" is not so if we ltake a closer look.
Excamples are pyramids, writing and agriculture. Some of the inventions were probably not only made once or twice, but several times in human history. Boats, sails, oars, domestication of animals and plants, writing, roads, "money".  In some areas developments may have been independent not only in the "new" and "old" parts of the world, but in different sub-regions inside them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jun 2013 at 02:40
Certainly. We are talking about pre-contact Americas and the Old World. After contact, the Americas became an offspring of Western Europe (with varying degrees of success), particularly of Spain, Portugal and Britain and in lesser degree of France, Netherlands and France.

Now the reason we can't make comparative analysis among other regions (for instance between Europe and Asia, or India and Africa) is simple: those regions weren't isolated, no matter the degree of interchange among them was indirect.

The only fully isolated regions of the past were Australia and the Americas, and unfortunately Australia didn't achieve a degree of development to compare with Eurasia. Therefore, to make comparisons we only have Eurasia and America.

 

Edited by pinguin - 19 Jun 2013 at 02:45
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Voltage Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jun 2013 at 12:21
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:



and unfortunately Australia didn't achieve a degree of development to compare with Eurasia. Therefore, to make comparisons we only have Eurasia and America.





Why do you say unfortunately, would you rather South America and Asia were invaded by Australia?   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2013 at 03:16
Originally posted by Voltage Voltage wrote:


Why do you say unfortunately, would you rather South America and Asia were invaded by Australia?   


What I say is exactly what I wrote. That unfortunately Australia didn't reach the level of complex civilizations, without downplaying the cultures of native Australians (that's one of my favorite cultures).
In the case of the Americas, here civilizations reached the high of some cultures of the old world, like Egypt, Summer or ancient India and China, and in some cases there were more advanced than the societies of the Old World (for instance, in the use of rubber and knowledge of zero)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2013 at 03:22
Originally posted by Voltage Voltage wrote:

Why do you say unfortunately, would you rather South America and Asia were invaded by Australia?   


I said "unfortunately" because it would have been great that Australians reached the level of civilizations elsewhere. In that case, we would have three cases of parallel developments of civilizations to compare.

Now, given things like they are, we only can compare the civilization belt of the Mediterranean and Eurasian civilizations against the Americas, to make conclusions about the way civilizations arise.

My personal conclusion is simple: given the time and the conditions, civilization would have appeared anywhere in the world. And a corolary is: if Eurasia hadn't existed, the Americas would have developed instead the civilization that developed modern world and reached the moon.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2013 at 03:24
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

I am of the opinion that since water is necessary to life, and villages tend to be established within easy distance of a water source, all early civilizations experienced floods. The idea that they all occurred at the same time on a global scale seems a bit stretched, but remains within the realm of possibility depending upon what weather conditions were present at any given epoch.


Absolutely.

Here in Chile, we also have a native myth of the flood. But given the large earthquakes our land has, and the huge tsunamis that affect once in a while the coasts of my country, it is quite obvious those foundational myths were based on watching nature.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Panther Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2013 at 07:21
I am going to go out on the limb with the presumption that primary sourced documentation, as in writing, being much more prevalent in the old world than in the Americas. In other words, ease of access.

Here, in our part of the hemisphere, if an archaeologists wants to learn about ancient Americans, then they either have to go with the works of other archaeologists or to go on a field expedition themselves and literally dig up the information  for the most part. Across the pond, there has always been a rich assortment of written work and documentations going back several thousands of years for historians to draw from.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lao Tse Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2013 at 08:11
Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:

I am going to go out on the limb with the presumption that primary sourced documentation, as in writing, being much more prevalent in the old world than in the Americas. In other words, ease of access.

Here, in our part of the hemisphere, if an archaeologists wants to learn about ancient Americans, then they either have to go with the works of other archaeologists or to go on a field expedition themselves and literally dig up the information  for the most part. Across the pond, there has always been a rich assortment of written work and documentations going back several thousands of years for historians to draw from.


That's really a good point. Europe, Africa, and Asia are very well documented and there are written documents and such from the Old World that are from thousands of years ago to the point that we are able to know who did what in history without having to rely almost entirely on archaeology, while in the Americas the sources are almost always from the archaeologists' findings.
在財富的害處,而是一件好事永遠不持續。我在和平中仅居住在新的風下。 Wei Jia Hong No harm in wealth, but a good thing doesn't last forever. I live only among peace under
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jun 2013 at 04:11
Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:

I am going to go out on the limb with the presumption that primary sourced documentation, as in writing, being much more prevalent in the old world than in the Americas. In other words, ease of access.

Here, in our part of the hemisphere, if an archaeologists wants to learn about ancient Americans, then they either have to go with the works of other archaeologists or to go on a field expedition themselves and literally dig up the information  for the most part. Across the pond, there has always been a rich assortment of written work and documentations going back several thousands of years for historians to draw from.



Sure. Writing was widespread in Eurasia and while in the Americas it was confined to the Maya region. Moreover, the documents in the old world about the past are hundred or even thousand of times more numerous than in the New World. However, other than archeology, there is good library of facts about pre-columbian Americas that comes from the following sources:

(1) The European chronicles of the conquest, mainly from Spanish sources, although there are also Norse, Portuguese, British, French and other writers. In those books it is possible to see the records of the Europeans about the pre-contact past, with an horizon of at least two hundred years. For instance, there is a well documented history of Aztecs and Incas (all theirs kings are known as historical figures, for instance) than to records memorized by the subjects of those empires.

(2) The Mayan records, coming mainly from stone carvings in temples and thumbs, but  also from the remaining of four books that escaped the burning of the Spanish.

(3) The recording of ancient legends and myths done by anthropologists. From those sources come the extraordinary stories. For instance, the history of Hiawatta and the Iroquois confederation was preserved orally.

Finally, the Mayan records have been deciphered only recently, and there are much work to do. So far, the image of the world that has emerged is the one of a people with all the glory and weaknesses of everybody else. The Maya writing is the equivalent of the New World of the decoding of the Egyptian and Mesoamerican records, and I am very sure there are many things still to be discovered there.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jun 2013 at 04:14
Originally posted by Lao Tse Lao Tse wrote:

That's really a good point. Europe, Africa, and Asia are very well documented and there are written documents and such from the Old World that are from thousands of years ago to the point that we are able to know who did what in history without having to rely almost entirely on archaeology, while in the Americas the sources are almost always from the archaeologists' findings.


With the exception of the Mayans. Today, the genealogy of the Mayan city states is a lot more clear than just a decade ago. People like Smokey Rabbit or Pacal are known mainly from the very records Mayans left.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lao Tse Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jun 2013 at 18:39
No disagreement there, and the Mayans were great astrologers and could calculate the different cycles.

Edited by Lao Tse - 22 Jun 2013 at 18:48
在財富的害處,而是一件好事永遠不持續。我在和平中仅居住在新的風下。 Wei Jia Hong No harm in wealth, but a good thing doesn't last forever. I live only among peace under
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