Friday, October 31, 2014

Lost Civilizations

Dr Abe V Rotor
Ruins of the sunken town of Pantabangan

Man, being the superior organism, has not only won over his rivals - all organisms that constitute the biosphere. He has also assaulted Nature.

Fifteen civilizations, once flourished in Western Sahara, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, the Sinai desert, Mesopotamia, and the deserts of Persia. All of these cultures perished when the people of the area through exploitation, forced nature to react. As a consequence, man was robbed of his only means of sustenance.

History tells us of man’s early abuse of nature in the Fertile Crescent where agriculture began some 3000 years ago. Man-made parallel canals joined the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers to irrigate the thirsty fertile valley. In the process, the balance of Nature was overturned when the natural drainage flow was disturbed. Because the treaty was violated, nature revenged. The canal civilization perished in the swamps that later formed. The sluggish water brought malaria and other diseases causing untold number of deaths and migration to the hinterlands. Among its victims was Alexander the Great.

Carthage had another story. Three wars hit Carthage, known as the Punic Wars. On the third one, the Romans ploughed through the city, ending reign of this erstwhile mercantile power, and removing the threat to the Roman economy. After the conquest, the Romans pumped salt-water inland and flooded the fertile farms. Today, Carthage exists only in history and in imagination of   whoever stands atop a hill overlooking what is now a vast desert.
 Ruins of the City of Troy

Omar Khayyam, if alive today, cannot possibly compose verses as beautiful as the Rubaiyat as written in his own time. His birthplace, Nishapur, which up to the time of Genghis Khan, supported a population of 1.5 million people, can only sustain 15,000 people today. Archeologists have just unearthed the Forest of Guir where Hannibal marched with war elephants. The great unconquerable jungle of India grew from waterlogged lowland formed by unwise irrigation management.

It is hard to believe, but true that in the middle of the Sahara desert, 50 million acres of fossil soil are sleeping under layers of sand awaiting water. Surveyors found an underground stream called the Albienne Nappe that runs close to this deposit. Just as plans were laid to “revive” the dead soil by irrigation, the French tested their first atomic bomb. Due to contamination, it is no longer safe to continue on with the project.

The great Pyramids of Egypt could not have been constructed in the middle of an endless desert. The tributaries of the Nile once surrounded these centers of civilization. Jerusalem appears today as a small city on a barren land. It may have been a city with thick vegetation. This was true of Negev and Baghdad.

The Pyramid at Giza, Egypt, and the Sphinx 

Need of a Conservation Program

For the Philippines, it is high time we lay out a long-range conservation program to insure the future of the country. This plan should protect the fertility of the fields, wealth of the forests and marine resources, in order to bring prosperity to the people. As of now, the country is being ripped apart by erosion and floods due to unscrupulous exploitation by loggers and kaingeros.

It is only through proper management and effective conservation, such as reforestation, pollution control, erosion control, limited logging, and proper land use, that we can insure the continuity of our race. All we have to do is to keep ourselves faithful to the treaty between nature and man. ~

Lost Civilizations - Myth or Real?

1. Atlantis is the most elusive of all the lost civilizations. What we know about this lost world comes from a few passages in the works of Plato. Archeological sightings at the bottom of the ocean continue to build credible evidences. Atlantis projects a Utopian image in the ideals of Plato's Republic - which makes it a myth.

2. Rome is the classical model of the rise and fall of an empire, prominently illustrated by historian Gibbon. Actually Rome had its ups and downs in its long record as the world's greatest empire, particularly after conquering the Greek states and integrating them into the empire. The ultimate fall of Rome was both internal (rise of Christianity, moral decay and weak governance) and external (overrun by barbarians, and cessation of the provinces), until the empire became fragments of fiefs and kingdoms that dominated the Dark Ages.

3. Maya, of ancient Mexico was already in decline when the Spanish conquistador Cortes conquered the city and all its vast territories. The people went back to live in the villages. Today, the Maya is a ghost city. From the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, signs of life around is nil - even as a tourists destination. The Mayans did not live long enough to witness the end of the world as predicted in their calendar - December 21, 2012.

4. Angkor Wat is another great civilization that disappeared mysteriously, leaving a magnificent temple complex comparable only with the world's greatest ancient infrastructures like Borobodor of Indonesia, Parthenon of Greece, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. There are scientific evidences of ecological decline, natural (erratic climate change) and man-induced (deforestation which led to erosion and siltation.) The city was virtually sitting on water with series of canals, moats and aqueducts.) History tells us that subsequent conquests by neighboring cultures from Siam and other lands wrote finish to Angkor Wat.

5. Easter Island - The Fall of the Moai culture is the result of resource exploitation and destruction on this isolated island. The first westerners who discovered the island wondered how any one could have survived on such a desolate, treeless place. This mystery was solved recently when core samples taken from the crater lakes showed that the island was heavily forested with a giant now-extinct palm and trees during the time the Easter Island culture was active. Which means that the island was a Paradise. The islanders cut down the trees for housing, boats and eventually for the rollers and lever-like devices used to move and erect the moai (stone statues).

As the deforestation continued the moai building competition turned into an obsession. The quarry was producing moai at sizes that probably could never have been moved very far (one unfinished moai in the quarry is 70 feet tall!). With the loss of the forests, the land began to erode. The small amount of topsoil quickly washed into the sea. The crops began to fail and the clans turned on one another in a battle for the scarce resources. The symbols of the islanders' power and success, the moai, were toppled. Violence grew to the point of self annihilation - and even cannibalism.

With no wood left to build boats, all the Rapa Nui people could do was look enviously at the birds that sail effortless through the sky. The Rapa Nui culture and community, which had developed over the past 300 years, collapsed. Only the moai - cold, numb stone statue remain.  If only they could speak!

6. Minoans. They formed a pre classical Greek culture that built fabulous modern cities on the island of Crete, and unlike most ancient cities in the region, they had no city walls. Probably protected by their navy, their civilization thrived for over 1,000 years, from 2700 BC to 1450 BC. Minoan culture is rich in mythology such as the Minotaur (half man, half beast), Daedalus the architect of the Labyrinth, and son Icarus who fell from the sky when he defied his father's warning not to get too close to the sun. Whatever happened the the Minoan culture could be parallel with the decline and fall of other Greek city states.

7. Stonehenge. Megalith built out of giant stones which survive today as proof of a fabulous culture. For thousands of years (4800-1200 BC) people built a variety of structures out of giant stones in western Europe. The purpose of some of these structures was astronomical - tracking  the movement and position of heavenly bodies, and to keep track with the seasons, and time - as an early kind of calender. Stonehenge is the most well known of these sites.

Reference: Doug’s Darkworld
War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World. Acknowledgement: Wikipedia, Internet

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