I saw this film eleven years ago just after the BBC first aired it. A key idea explored here is that despite always looking for the signs of it, archeologists do not find what they are looking for: evidence that early human civilization centered on conflict.
The Mother of All Cities
For over a century, archaeologists have been searching for what they call a mother city. Civilisation began in only six areas of the world: Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, Peru and Central America. In each of these regions people moved from small family units to build cities of thousands of people. They crossed the historic divide, one of the great moments in human history. Why? To find the answer archaeologists needed to find a mother city – the first stage of city-building.
Civilisation through conflict
They couldn’t find one anywhere. Everywhere this first stage seemed destroyed or built over. And so, instead, scientists developed a number of theories. Some said it was because of the development of trade, others that it was irrigation. Some even today believe it was all because of aliens. Gradually an uneasy consensus emerged. The key force common to all civilisations was warfare.
The theory was that only the fear of war could motivate people to give up the simple life and form complex societies. To prove it, archaeologists still had to find a city from that very first stage of civilisation. If it showed signs of warfare, then the theory had to be true.
When archaeologist Ruth Shady discovered her 5,000 year old city of pyramids in the Peruvian desert, all eyes were on the New World. Ruth’s extraordinary city, known as Caral, is so much older than anything else in South America that it is a clear candidate to be the mother city. It also is in pristine condition. Nothing has been built on it at all. Instead laid out before the world is an elaborate complex of pyramids, temples, an amphitheatre and ordinary houses.
Make love not war
Crucially, there is not the faintest trace of warfare at Caral; no battlements, no weapons, no mutilated bodies. Instead, Ruth’s findings suggest it was a gentle society, built on commerce and pleasure.
- Property developers destroy ancient pyramid in Peru (euronews.com)
- Have Mankind’s ‘Greatest Pyramids’ Been Pinpointed? (newser.com)
- The Lost Pyramids of Peru (pakalertpress.com)
- sacred city of caral-supe (ellenhartdesign.com)
- Long lost pyramid discovery may rival those of Giza (gnosticwarrior.com)