There is a theory, not entirely without merit, that humanity has reached impressive levels of technology in the distant past and then lost it all and regressed to pretty much caveman status. The big issue with this idea is – where did it go? Why are there few, if any artefacts of that past civilisation? Where are the books, the buildings… the statues?
The idea that they destroyed it all themselves before falling back to a primitive state has always been the source of ridicule. Why would they do that? What possible motivation did they have for abandoning the pyramids, including the buried ones in other parts of the world? Why was Gobleki Tepe deliberately buried? Did the hunter gatherers of the time suddenly develop extensive stonemasonry skills, or was it the other way around?
Civilisations have risen and fallen throughout currently recorded history. Many have conquered the known world of the time, only to lose it and fade into obscurity. You don’t see a lot of Byzantians or Romans around these days. So many great civilisations, fallen into dust, in just our short record of human history.
Every one of those past civilisations believed they would last forever. None of them did. So why do we believe ours will be the ‘special one’? Because all the old ones did. It’s human nature. And yet every civilisation falls in the end. They become complacent. They become tolerant. They become weak.
This time feels different. It’s not just like the fall of Rome, it’s global. The whole shitshow is falling all at once. They are smashing their statues, renaming their past, destroying their history. Burying their monuments and closing down their civilisation. They have nothing to replace it with.
Most of modern knowledge is in digital form. What if it was in that form in the past too? Paper books will rot away anyway, but digital? How can that be lost?
Who has a BBC computer with a Cumana disk drive and Cub monitor? (hint: me). 5.25-inch floppy disks. The bee’s knees 40 years ago, hardly anyone would know what they are now. How about cassette or even VHS tapes? Betamax? Laser disk? 3.5-inch disks? All gone, a whole generation has no idea what those things are and yet none of them existed when I was a teenager. CDs. Invented and gone. DVDs losing out to streaming. Vinyl, tapes and CD music… are there many households still using them? (hint: there’s one, it’s me)
What will future archaeologists make of CDs? Some kind of decorative mandala perhaps? They will have no means to play them so they are likely to assume them simple jewellery items made by primitives. With that in mind, look at what they consider ancient jewellery now.
People now store information, documents, photos, in ‘the cloud’. When the power source fails it’s all gone. No need for mass burnings and destruction. Flick a switch, all traces vanish. Nothing for a future archaeologist to find other than some mysterious boxes with wires and disks inside. Well, those that haven’t rusted into dust, if any. There might be an Antikythera mechanism still around.
Will they be able to figure out how to read them? We have 8-inch disks and reels of computer tapes from the past we cannot access now, and we are talking much less than a century. I personally have files in WordStar on 3.5-inch disks that no modern computer will accept, much less read. I’ve already burned a lot of them, they are of no use now.
I have lost whole years of digital photographs while my mother has traditional film and print photographs from before I was born. Digital is so very easy to erase. One solar flare and this world is lost. The paper photos will last a few hundred years but not much longer.
What if it was like that before? An information storage system we cannot access because we have no idea how it worked, nor even that it existed? We have lost so many of our own information systems in a few decades, how can we hope to guess how the builders of Gobleki Tepe stored theirs?
Oh sure, we can say ‘but they were primitive people’ and pretend it’s not simple arrogance. Those ‘primitive people’ built enormous pyramids with geographical precision in a way we ‘advanced’ people can neither replicate nor understand. The temples of the Incas were built on top of stones that were laid in a way far more advanced than they were able to replicate. Even so, we cannot even replicate the Inca methods of building now. Can we be really sure we know all there is to know about those ancient people?
There are many theories as to how, why and when the pyramids and other structures in Egypt and all over the world were built. Not one of them stands up to scrutiny. They were not tombs, that is now clear. They would have taken a very long time and a hell of a lot of work to build, so they must have been important. For what? We might never know.
Gobekli Tepe is an intricate structure with many carvings, some of which are echoed on other ancient monuments. The ‘handbag’ image is particularly interesting in this regard. What is it? I have no idea. And neither does anyone else, including those who have spent their lives studying this stuff. Maybe the 3.5-inch disk will gain similar notoriety in ten thousand years. Already it’s hailed by the young as a 3D print of the ‘save’ icon. Its real purpose has already been forgotten.
Many times, including in recent memory, we have not just forgotten our past, we have actively deleted it. Iraq pulled down Saddam Hussein’s statue. How many of the under-20s even know who he was? When the Soviet Union collapsed, many statues of Stalin fell. Germany refuses to allow any mention of Hitler and model planes of the second world war have no swastika decals for the tailplane. Every second world war plane of the Luftwaffe had that insignia. It’s history. Deleted. They have deleted the past, so future generations are doomed to do it all again.
Now we are in the process of deleting all of it at once. All power generation failing due to an imagined apocalypse that has been ten years away since at least the 1950s. All food production to be deleted because ‘why do you need farms when you can just buy it in a supermarket?’ I am not kidding, that is a genuine argument.
The world has gone insane. Except in parts of Africa, that reservoir of humanity that still lives in the old ways and is ready to repopulate the world once this all falls to the ground. They will once again meet neanderthals, the residue of the white race in the northern lands and it will all start again. Different technology, most likely. Maybe it will work out next time, or the time after that.
It is not inevitable. People could still come to their senses and see they are heading back to massive starvation and a residual hunter-gatherer life. They could still avoid it, although the signs are not good. They seem to want that ending, they want to go back to primitive life but they want someone else to pay for it. They are going to be unhappy to find that that is not how it works. They have brought their own destruction on themselves.
I have lately written about a character called Moros. This character is not fiction, it’s mythology. The difference is that fiction is entirely made up, like my dishwasher goblins or the genie in a beer can story. Mythology is often based on a fictionalised remembrance of something in the past. A story passed down like a Chinese whisper, embellished and sensationalised on the way.
Moros is a character in Greek mythology. He does not kill you, he drives you to destroy yourselves. In this modern world he might have accumulated enough wealth to simply pay you to destroy yourselves while taking no part himself. He might even use a twist on his name.
I know, I know, take out shares in tinfoil companies but do you really think the human world isn’t in a super-self-destructive mode? Do you believe history is not being rewritten and deleted before your eyes? Do you have to wait until the Empire State Building is felled and buried?
There is much talk of ‘people will rise up’ but you know they won’t. They never have. So many believe in the indestructibility of their way of life and consider history ‘the past’. The Fall of Rome. the destruction of the Library, the collapse of the Pharoahs, it’s history, it can’t happen again. Even though it has happened every time before.
The ones who take over think it can never happen to them too. It always does.
Then you get the global one. The ultimate deletion. The one that wipes out everything right down to knowing how to grow plants. As in Seattle’s ‘death zone’ now. Not one of them will survive a reset but that is what they want.
I think the reset is coming. I also think it will not be what those who demand it expect it to be.
The secret is, bang the rocks together, guys.