By using their new three-part brain to create ideas, and developing their new potential for speech, our first human ancestors began an experiment in cooperative living. It was to share their new ideas by learning to "talk" to each other, form and carry out cooperative group plans of defensive action, and thereby increase their chance for survival and happiness in a dangerous world.
This "Human Experiment" worked very well. Their shared, cooperative ideas became the first culture, a unique human invention that guided their group thinking and behavior in a cooperative direction, and put them on a highly successful course for a long time.
Then their descendants unknowingly altered their Cultural Process and put themselves on the self-destructive course on which we find ourselves today. How did that happen, and how can we now regain our successful course? The answers to these questions will be presented in this blog, and they offer us humans "A Reason for Hope."

PLEASE NOTE: Out of my experience in WWII has come the rest of this blog, so to understand it all it is necessary to begin with Part One by clicking below.

Part Two: Chapter 4 - The Second Paradise

Chapter 4  -  The Second Paradise

    After leaving Africa a wandering Homo sapiens group came to a region in southwestern Asia north of the Arabian Desert, which today we call “The Fertile Crescent.” (It includes parts of what are now Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.) There in the foothills of its northern mountains they found places with plentiful water from rain and streams, exciting new kinds of animals, fruit and nut trees and bushes, and edible plants, including two kinds of wild grasses (wheat and barley) with seeds at their tops. They ate the seeds, found that they were good food and added them to the other food they obtained from gathering. Evidence shows that this was the place called “the garden of Eden,” and that it was the place about which accounts have been passed down vocally in stories which eventually were written into “Genesis,” the first book of the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament), as the story of “Adam and Eve.”
    Because the supply of food was more varied and plentiful than in any place they had found previously they did not have to move very often or far to find enough to eat. However more food resulted in an increase in the number of persons in the group and soon it had to be divided in two. After a while this dividing became unnecessary because they made a discovery which radically affected the course of our Human Story and led to the creation of the second Human Paradise: seeds which they had accidentally dropped to the ground had grown there! So they purposely dropped some of the seeds down in new places (and perhaps but not necessarily, covered them with soil to hide them from birds), and when they returned there from gathering and hunting they were delighted to see that the same kinds of grasses had come up with the same kinds of seeds at the top! Therefore they continued to sew more seeds, return later, eat some of the seeds and put others into the soil. (There are other ideas of how food growing was discovered, but the point is that it was discovered. As written in Genesis, Adam became a “tiller of the soil,” and so did their first son, “Cain.”) Finally they made the culminating discovery: when the seeds were kept in a dry container they would last for a year or more without spoiling! Being able to preserve food enabled them to stay in one place between harvests and build agricultural villages. Thus the invention of agriculture (controlling their food supply) was another quantum jump.
    Until recently it was thought that agriculture began in well-watered, fertile places such as the valley of the Nile River in Egypt. However in 1960 Robert J. Braidwood, an archeologist of the University of Chicago, argued that the transition to farming was much less likely to have occurred in a crowded river valley than in some other part of the Near East where climate and other conditions were particularly favorable, such as where humans and wild but domesticable plants and animals existed side by side. As the earliest agricultural settlements then known, those of the Valley of the Nile, were already fairly advanced (dating from around 6,500 years ago), Braidwood conjectured that farming probably originated much earlier than anyone believed. To fill what he thought to be a vital gap between the cave stage and flourishing village-farming communities he proposed to find a transitional village which straddled the borderline between hunting/gathering and farming.
    On the hilly flanks of the Zagros mountains in northeastern Iraq, Braidwood found an area and a mound which he thought met his requirements, and he was right. When he and  his team dug down into the mound, called Jarmo,  they found layer under layer, 16 in all, until they reached the original village at the bottom and discovered sickles, seeds, grinders, fire pits, etc. and the outlines of mud houses dating from around 9,000 years ago.
    It must have taken 1,000 or 2,000 years before plant and animal domestication reached even such a primitive stage as Jarmo’s, which means that before 9,000 years ago humans became able to produce and store food, and that this allowed them to settle where the grasses (cereal grains) grew, and to build and live in permanent dwellings and create a village. Whereas approximately 250 square miles of land were needed to feed a band of 25 hunter/foragers, six square miles could provide adequate food supplies to the 150 inhabitants of an early farming village.
    Outlines of the dwellings of the earliest grain-gathering groups have been found, dating from around 10,000 years ago. These are circles of stones indicating small, round huts which were carry-overs from the nomadic life. The stones apparently reinforced a pole framework that was covered with hides or some other perishable material, and could be taken apart and moved, as were the tepees of the Native North Americans on the western plains. The huts often stood apart from each other with a few paces between them, and were arranged in a circle or oval.
    The reasons for this arrangement may be seen by recognizing two features of existing primitive tribal communities in Africa which move from place to place. First, they favor round huts supported by poles, because they are quickly put up and taken down and easy to carry. Second, the biological family, consisting of a husband and wife and their unmarried children, is not always the most important grouping, as it is in most modern societies. The huts are small, and only one man or woman, with or without small children, sleeps in them. Along with a kitchen hut, the sleeping huts are often arranged in a circle or oval with those of the men and women usually on opposite sides no matter who is married to whom. These people are communalists, persons with little feeling for personal property and with a strong tradition of sharing. The small huts arranged in a circle without concern for family grouping are an architectural expression of their all-are-equal attitude.
    Thus the design of the villages of 10,000 years ago, and of the ones of primitives today, may go back to nomadic hunter/gatherers who, when they first began to gather grains, laid out their first settlements according to plans that reflected their long-established social customs.
    As persons began not only to gather but to plant grains, and adapted to sedentary living, they acquired an increasing amount of personal property such as collections of weapons, tools, fuel, clothing, food, and perhaps some livestock, things nomads had not been able to carry with them. More possessions called for bigger houses, and by 9,000 years ago villagers were living in the Jarmo-type of rectangular mud-walled structures divided into apartments with common walls outside and several rooms inside. These separate, multi-roomed apartments had space for an entire family under one roof, plus a room for privately-accumulated stocks of food and whatever. These new factors weakened the communalist tradition and led parents to think of their families as their first obligation.
    Evidence shows that the villagers gathered mushrooms, berries, fruits, and nuts growing nearby, and eventually in addition to grains raised a variety of plants, including peas, chickpeas, lentils, fava beans, onions and muskmelons. Other evidence shows that some of the wild animals which lived around them were captured and made tame, i.e. domesticated, and that gave them a whole new steady source of food. The animals domesticated were sheep, goats, pigs and cattle, raised for meat and also for hides which could be scraped and made into clothing, and for milk from cows and goats. (In Genesis, Adam and Eve’s second son, “Able,” became a “keeper of sheep,”i.e. a shepherd.) When they harvested the grain they tended to select the largest, healthiest seeds to eat or plant. Every year they again selected and planted the largest, healthiest seeds, so without recognizing it they were breeding larger and more nutritious seeds through artificial selection, and possibly through accidental crossings of varieties.
   (Some persons have stated that introducing agriculture was “he worst mistake humans ever made.” My view is that its discovery was inevitable, that it was and is an enormous help to humans, and that our mistake was not in discovering it, but in not controlling its use properly.)
    Thus the discovery of how to grow and preserve food were further quantum jumps and made possible the creation of the second human paradise. In it each person had a great increase in personal freedom, from not having to search constantly for food, and from not being constantly subject to attack by predators, which gave one more time for enjoyment of life plus the basic sense of personal security that comes from being a needed and important member of an on-going, well-organized, democratic group. (And they could still go hunting and gathering to keep their spirit free.)
    Even though they had moved away from being strictly communalists they were cooperative in finding and producing food, building houses, and making and carrying out group plans for cooperative action, and in village life they found the group security and companionship they needed. Also, staying in one place enabled them to have a community fire and take turns in keeping it going.
    The men had their traditional duties of hunting, fishing, and making tools and weapons, and they took over the newer occupations required by farming, including the care of the larger animals. At some point, then or later, cattle were used to pull plows to break up the ground for planting. At whatever point in our story the change occurred from using human power only, to also using animal power, it was another quantum jump.. (Horses lived in northern Asia and were domesticated and ridden by nomad herders and brought south later.) The villagers had to be prepared to fight if attacked by a wandering group, but as natural food was plentiful, and their group was becoming increasingly larger, they may not have been attacked. However, a great danger was from fire burning their thatched-roof houses, sparked by natural causes or by human accidents.
    The women had their traditional duties of care of children and home, cooking, gathering food such as mushrooms, and finding herbs for flavoring and for medicine. Their new occupations included care of the kitchen-garden, grinding grain for cereal and bread, baking, cheese and butter making, basket and pot making, and spinning and weaving.
    As persons in the farming village grew older they benefitted greatly from the sedentary lifestyle. Instead of being a burden to a band of roving hunter/gatherers, or having to be left behind, they could continue to participate by being experienced teachers of the village children. Mothers and children benefitted too; a hunter/gatherer mother who is shifting camp can carry only one child, along with her few possessions. She cannot afford to bear or keep her next child until the previous one can walk fast enough to keep up with the group and not hold it back. (Present-day nomadic herders space their children about four years apart by means of sexual abstinence, abortion, infanticide, and lactational amenorrhea, i.e. a woman will continue nursing so as to keep menstruating so that her seed will not be fertile.)
    Unconstrained by problems of carrying young children on treks, village mothers could bear and raise as many children as they could feed. (The birth interval for many farm peoples today is around two years.) The higher birthrate of villagers, together with their ability to feed more people per acre, plus the factor that fewer babies and children were killed by predator animals, let them achieve higher populations than could hunter/gatherers. Older persons and children helped with the household chores, looked after the gentler animals, gathered nuts, berries, and mushrooms, and drove birds away from the crops, and everyone able to participated in planting, watering, and harvesting.
    Probably one of the men was especially skilled at helping to settle disputes fairly, and was elected (informally or formally) to be the “chief.” However, he was not a dictator. He could call a meeting, and lead the discussions, but decisions were made by the group (probably through consensus). As his job became more time-consuming, at some point it probably was agreed that he had to work only half a day at farming, in order to have time to take care of his official duties, and would receive a half a workday’s amount of food from the others. This arrangement was probably applied also to the village shaman, whose task was to appeal to the gods for help and guidance, lead the sacred rituals, and help care for the sick. Probably he or she had a promising young assistant in training to take over at his or her infirmity or death.
    It is clear that during their journeys humans carried with them their interest in both logical nature study and in imaginative Nature Worship, and that when they began growing food they began to create and worship new gods and goddesses who controlled the success or failure of their crops and herds. The birth, life, death, and re-birth of plants may have become the basis of humans’ ideas about human reincarnation.
    The formalized human relationship with imaginary gods and goddesses was the beginning of institutional (organized) religion. Evidence of this found in mounds includes many shrines, figurines of gods and goddesses, and thousands of small clay figurines that seem to have been part of a “Great Mother” cult. Some are made of unbaked clay and others were baked like pots in an oven or kiln. The commonest are of naked women, usually enormously fat, with exaggerated breasts, buttocks, and thighs, and many appear pregnant. The most likely explanation for these figurines is that they were symbols of fertility, and the sculptors’ emphasis on features connected with childbearing may have been magic intended to keep the village strong and well populated. Women who wanted children may have received such statuettes from shamans and put them in a shrine, or broken them as a symbolic sacrifice.
    (The idea behind these fertility figurines was not new; they bear a strong resemblance to the “Venus” figurines the Cro-Magnons produced some 10,000 years earlier, and the fertility cult was continued from then through the villagers and their descendants down to classical times. As civilizations developed around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea the Great Mother female goddess took a prominent place in almost every pantheon. She was Ishtar in Mesopotamia, Ashtoreth in Canaan, Aphrodite in Greece, and Venus in Rome. The mode of worship of her varied with the desires of her worshipers; sometimes she was the goddess of love rather than of fertility.)
    In Halcilar, a Turkish village of about 100 persons some 7,400 years ago, the worship of the Great Mother took an additional form that proved even longer lived. The early stages of this cult are reflected by female figurines that are neither fat nor pregnant, but show a reasonably shaped young woman tenderly holding her child. They symbolize not procreation or sex, but motherhood, the underlying idea being to revere or sanctify it.
    Not all early Near Eastern villages produced goddess figurines. In fact some offer almost no evidence of religious practices, but it is unlikely that their inhabitants were non-religious. Primitive people live in a world dominated by powerful and dangerous spirits that must be appeased or won over; they rarely consider it safe to ignore them. So when an early village seems to have had no religion, this probably means only that the traces of its religious activities have not been recognized.
    In the mound that was the village of Beidha in Jordan, in all the debris left by some 500 years of occupation some 9,000 years ago, only one Great Mother figurine was found. The village did, however, have something that may have been an austere shrine. About 50 yards east of the village proper were found the remains of three remarkable oval buildings that seem to have been built and rebuilt at different stages of Beidha’s existence. The middle building was largest, about 20 by 12 feet, paved with small, angular, deliberately broken bits of stone. When the archeologists unearthed it the floor was unlittered except for a scattering of bone beads. In the center of the building is a standing stone, a great rectangular block of sandstone from the neighboring mountains. This centerpiece is three feet high and positioned so its narrower edges face north and south. Two other slabs of stone were set in the floor, or perhaps raised above it on other stones. Another slab was found outside the building, with the remains of a low stone parapet around it. Nearby was a roughly triangular slab, 12 feet on its longest side and hollowed out to form a shallow basin. Beidhans knew the use of plaster and paint, but the stones were undecorated. The austerity of this shrine-like place and of the image-free holy building of the farmers of Beidha who lived 9,000 years ago is unusual, perhaps even unique, for the time.
    It is important to note that from the time humans began making and carrying out plans their sense of personal independence was and continued to be strong, not in spite of their democracy, but because of it, and when they developed the village the chief was a chief among equals. If the people were not satisfied with him they would elect a new one.
    (In a recent African tribe, when the people wanted to demote their chief they tipped him out of his official chair. In North America in the Pacific Northwest, if a shaman became destructive it was the duty of his or her relatives to assassinate him or her.)
    Because the farmers were growing so much grain and storing it in covered, ventilated granaries which they had invented, they each had some spare time which some persons were using to do other useful inventing. The leather bag had been invented much earlier, and now came the inventions of how to weave flexible twigs or stems into a bag, basket, or hat, make a gourd into a cup or jug, form clay into pots and make them hard in the fire, weave animal hair or plant-fibers into cloth to make clothing, tie or weave strips of leather or stems together to make ropes, which had many uses including to harness cattle, and how to pound certain kinds of pretty  “stones” (copper and gold nuggets) into metal shapes for ornaments or knives.
    With fire-hardened pottery came also a tremendous improvement in hygiene. Cooking pots could be cleaned easily, and they could be tossed out if they cracked or chipped. Liquids could be stored in vessels and covered with lids to keep out flies and other insects. Clay storage jars kept valuable supplies of grain safe from rodents whose teeth could gnaw through baskets.
    So momentous was this great leap forward that many of the gods of the ancient world were likened to potters. The ram-headed Egyptian god Khnum, the creator of all things, was a potter. The Mesopotamian goddess Aruru pinched off a bit of clay to create mankind. The Hebrew prophets, in words that readers of the Bible repeat today, said: “We are the clay, and Thou our potter.” Thus, the invention of fire-hardened pottery, and other uses of natural materials including metals, were another quantum jump.
    Beneath some 7,500 years of debris, archeologists excavating Tell Hassuna in Iraq uncovered a farming village whose kitchens consisted of two cooking areas, one indoors and one outdoors. In the hot, dry months women prepared and cooked food in airy courtyards equipped with hearths, and in some cases ovens for baking loaves of unleavened bread, and in inclement weather they worked around one or more indoor hearths. The meals prepared in these kitchens represented a radical change in diet, with wheat and barley replacing meat. Fired vessels of pottery served as durable containers for cooking or storing foods and liquids, and enabled cooks to prepare or preserve the harvested grains by boiling, parching, germinating, or fermenting them. Someone discovered that barley seeds left in water fermented and left a slightly intoxicating drink, the original beer, and everyone drank and loved it. Thanks to these inventions women could put together meals that were varied. Served with bread, the main course was likely to be porridge possibly flavored with chunks of meat, vegetables from the garden, and for dessert there might be nuts or fruit, all washed down with barley beer.
    Clearly the time of the farming village was one of great creativity, which is what occurs when humans live together  in peace, are democratic, and have enough to eat, and out of this burst of creativity there emerged the beginnings of specialization. This meant that when persons used much of their spare time to make a stone or wooden tool, or leather bag, or leather rope, or metal ornaments or knives, or whatever, they would trade their products for the products of other persons and for food. This trading of things among persons, even among children, had no doubt been going on from the human beginning, but now began to become the economic system called "barter." Increasing specialization, trading, aand barter, were another were another great jump.
    Other farming villages had been developing in the foothills in the same or similar ways, so for a long time they were all participants in the Second Human Paradise.
    Then a crucial problem emerged: the farmers did not know about rotation of fields or crops in order to keep the fields fertile, nor how to add fertilizer to it, so it became increasingly impoverished in such critical elements as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. All of the people in the hills had been practicing what we call "dry farming," (without irrigation), but even with small irrigation projects, and some accidental fertilizing by dropping of manure by animals, each harvest of grain was becoming less vigorous and nutritious than the previous one.  They cultivated new lands, but eventually there was no unclaimed land to farm. Consequently groups probably began to fight each other for territory, and that was the end of the Second Paradise. Periodically persons formed new groups and moved southward, taking their tools, culture, seeds, animals, and farming and manufacturing technologies with them.
    It seems that the creation and development of the cooperative, democratic agricultural village was an  expression of the fourth brain, the frontal cortex.

NOTE:  Temporary detour - To go to Chapter 5, click below on HOME. That takes you to Chapter 6. Then scroll down to Chapter 5. Thank you!