Lately, I've been tuning in to a lot of history shows about ancient civilizations and what became of them. What I'm finding as a frequent theme is, "Wow! How did they DO that? It would be almost impossible for us to replicate that achievement even in this day in age!"
And then, often, the answer that seems the logical conclusion for them is: "It must have been aliens that provided the tech."
Wait! Who said it had to be aliens?
After all, our parents or grandparents went from horse and buggy to space age in just one lifetime.
According to the general consensus, what we define as "civilization" has only been around for about 6,000 years. Not long at all, in comparison. That period encompasses the construction of Stonehenge and the most ancient pyramids in Egypt.
It's become obvious that civilization dates back much, much earlier. There have been many discoveries--some quite recent--that have set our previous understanding of ancient civilization on its figurative ear.
For one, there's Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, featuring elaborate carvings dating to around 11,500 years old (some sources say up to 13,000 years old), and believed to be the world's oldest temple, it covers about 22 acres, though much of it has not yet been excavated. For some unknown reason, the site may have been buried and abandoned at some point in the past. No one is sure why.
Here's a brief video that talks about the discovery and how it has impacted established beliefs about ancient civilization.
But Gobekli Tepe is far from alone in terms of age, and it's age pales in comparison to some of the far older discoveries of human activity.
Here are eight of the other oldest known archaeological sites:
Tell es-Sultan Age: over 10,000 years (circa 9000 BCE). This ruin is the oldest part of the Jericho, and is often referred to as the oldest town on Earth. By 7,000 BCE (around 9,000 years ago) it was a large fortified town, and it is believed that around this time the walls and tower of Jericho were built.
Tell Qaramel. Age: over 12,000 years (c.10,900 BCE). A settlement now located in present day Syria. Tell Quaramel was discovered in the 1907s, but escavation didn't begin until 1999. More recent research suggests that Tell Qaramel might be even older than original estimates.
Lascaux Cave Age: about 17,000 years (c.15,000 BCE) This cave complex in France has one of the most extensive collections of ancient cave paintings found in the world. It has over 6,000 depictions of animals including bison, ibex, horses, stags and aurochs, along with humans.
Cave of Altamira Age: over 27,000 years old (c. 25,000 BCE) This site in Spain was first escated in 1879, but many scholars of the day rejected the site because the cave paintings were so different from other ancient paintings found in France. In 1902, it was revisited and the work found there taken seriously. Originally open to the public, it was closed in 2002 due to damage caused by artificial lighting and a mold that began to form on the images. In 2014, the site was reopened to the public on a limited basis--but only to five visitors who must wear protective suits and are chosen by lottery.
Murujuga. Age: about 30,000 years old (c. 28,000 BCE). Western Australia. Sacred indigenous land containing one of the largest--and oldest--collections of petroglyphs in the world. It contains at least a million individual images, including now extinct animals. The Aboriginal people are believed to have been living in the area for over 50,000 years.
Chauvet Cave. Age: about 36,000 years old (c. 34,000 BCE). France. A cave settlement with cave paintings considered among the best preserved in the world. Evidence shows there may have been two periods of settlement of the caves, with the second being 31,000 to 28,000 years ago.
Cave of El Castillo. Over 40,800 years old (c. 38,000 BCE). Spain. World's oldest known cave paintings to date, causing researches to question if the art was created by modern humans or Neanderthals because of the extreme age.
Because many of these ancient sites were located inside caves, they were protected through eons of time to be discovered by modern scientists. But what about all the structures and belongings and art work that didn't stand the test of time and the elements? How much has been buried or turned to dust, and how far back does civilization truly extend? How advanced were some of these ancient cultures?
How much of what once was has been lost to time?
The Legend of Atlantis tells of a civilization that once existed and was thriving around 12,000 years ago by some accounts. It was said to be very advanced and wealthy culture with flying ships and other amazing technology.
But if it--or a civilization like it--ever existed, why haven't we found any evidence of it?
It's interesting to note that the Younger Dryas Event, an apocalypse that befell the Earth approximately 12,000 years ago (give or take a millennia) occurred at roughly the time this civilization was said to have been swallowed by the sea.
Though it hasn't yet been determined what exactly triggered the Younger Dryas, most agree it resulted in a huge flood of water entering the oceans from melting ice sheets, so much water that it affected weather, rapidly changed the climate, and triggered a mass extinction event that killed off all the large land animals such as mammoth, camels, horses and saber-toothed cats in North America. Maybe the culprit was an asteroid, or a volcanic eruption, or some other natural catastrophe. We're not sure. Whatever the cause, it was a powerful enough event that it could have destroyed entire civilizations. Think what something like this could wreck on our modern society?
But if a civilization like Atlantis did once exist, what happened to all that technology? Hmmm. Could it be that the survivors settled throughout the world and passed down some of their knowledge and techniques. Maybe to the pyramid builders of Egypt, Central America and Asia? Or maybe they passed on knowledge to the inhabitants of Easter Island who built huge, multi-ton stone statues--the moai--that their legends claimed were walked into place by levitation. Or maybe some of the survivors weren't confined to Earth. Why did the people of Nazca build great images that could only be viewed from above? From the air or from space?evidence of a nuclear war in India--some 8,000 to 12,000 years ago. Nuclear capabilities?
Where did that knowledge come from?
Well...who said it had to be aliens? Maybe we were once capable of all of this and more, and whether by disaster or other unknown reason, that knowledge was lost.
In case you're wondering if I've suddenly been swept up in some huge conspiracy theory (LOL) the answer would be no. Or not really. But these thoughts and ideas did provide the basis for the backstory of my ongoing SFR WIP--The Draxian Trilogy.
And now you know what all this has to do with Science Fiction Romance. :)
In the event you have an inquiring (and wandering) mind (like mine), here's a video that explains in more detail about the Younger Dryas event.