Home > Critical Thinking, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism > Some of the First Proto-Cities are Probably on Floor of Persian Gulf

Some of the First Proto-Cities are Probably on Floor of Persian Gulf

In a a previous post, I promoted the idea that Rockall Bank, a now-submerged landmass (off the north-west of Ireland) might have been inhabited during last Ice Age. The idea that some of the most ancient human settlements are now underwater is hardly new. In fact we know that the ocean level during last ice age was around 80-100 meters lower than today and a good portion of the near continental shelf in many part of the world was above water. For example New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania were part of a larger formation known as Sahul. Similarly India and Sri Lanka was connected by a natural land bridge as was the Eastern most part of Asia and Western most part of North america via Beringia. I have also previously talked about Doggerland.

In other words, more than a few coast lines were noticeably different during the last ice age than they are today. But what does any of this have to do with lost proto-cities? As it turns out, much more than you might think at first glance. It is common knowledge that humans prefer building settlements close to the shores of large bodies of water or rivers. There is a reason why inland USA is sparsely populated as compared to both the coasts and you can see this pattern in many other parts of world and throughout human history. But what does any of this mean for locating as yet undiscovered proto-cities? Consider the Persian Gulf. Today, it is just a shallow extension of Indian ocean. But as late as even 9000 BC, a pretty large part of it was above water.

But how was the climate in that area during late ice age? Well.. currently available evidence suggests that it was a low-lying plain with multiple rivers draining it. It was also cooler and wetter than today. To put it another way, it had a quasi-Mediterranean climate albeit with bulk of precipitation in summer instead of winter. The climatic conditions, including availability of fresh water, were ideal for humans settlement. But could Humans have settled in that area? Based on currently available archaeological evidence, they most certainly did. So.. what is the point in writing this post? Haven’t we established that there were human settlements in that area?

And this is the part where I go beyond what most archaeologists think lies on seafloor of Persian Gulf. See.. even though we have now found large Neolithic sites from around end of last ice age, such as Göbekli Tepe and Nevalı Çori many prefer to believe that “real civilization” started after the ice age had ended. This is largely due to two factors. Firstly, we have still not found and large and organised neolithic settlements much older than 9,5000 BC. Secondly, the climate in many places which later became alleged “cradles” of civilization was not particularity pleasant during the last ice age. But what if places where humans first settled down are now underwater? What if many of the first proto-cities are now at bottom of Persian Gulf?

Some of you might point out that a number of people have previously written about the Persian Gulf being inhabited during the last ice age, and that is absolutely correct. I do however believe, unlike most of them, that settlements in what is today the Persian Gulf represented something between paleolithic hunter-gatherers and what we see in Sumer and subsequent Mesopotamian civilizations. Maybe the neolithic period started a few thousand years earlier than we currently believe. Perhaps the process of domesticating plants and animals also started a few thousand years before end of ice age. Maybe the remains of large neolithic religious sites and proto-cities lie under a couple of meters of sediment on the floor of Persian Gulf.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. Gp
    September 27, 2018 at 6:59 am

    Wonderful post. Do follow up on your archeology series

  2. botterd
    September 27, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    I have always been impressed by the extent to which our picture of ancient (political) history, or for that matter, physical anthropology, is changed by every significant find. Our picture is based on a lot of speculation and theories/assumptions about how things would have developped, but evidence is based on random remains and random finds, very selective and fragmented by nature. Many more recent discoveries have pushed back dates on things like monumental architecture or first bronze smelting or artwork by millienia. Even the pottery style comparisons are hard to take completely seriously, though I am no expert. The population of ancient settlements (and other parameters) is also a matter of ongoing dispute, often with discrepancies between experts in the order of magnitude of 10 or even 100-fold.
    We do know from actual history that civilizations can arise and bloom into a flowering of technical and civilizational progress in a matter of generations, but that they can wilt and disappear in a matter of years. There is not simply a gradual development based on the heritage of previous accomplishments leading up to us at the pinnacle, but also a lot of re-invention and obliteration.
    I do not find it implausible in the least to think that earlier experiments in human civilization went far beyond what we have been conditioned to expect.

  3. MikeCA
    September 27, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    There are many large ancient structures in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. These structures are not obvious from ground level but can be seen from the air or on Google Earth pictures. They have not been studies extensively but some people think they could data back as much as 9000 years.

    See for example: https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/archaeology/hundreds-of-mysterious-ancient-structures-discovered-in-saudi-arabia/news-story/57c5f0f4823511af5ac6f4c351963e85

    It is clear we know very little about civilization prior to the bronze age because the sites are harder to find and very few have been studied.

  4. Another Commenter
    September 28, 2018 at 7:49 am

    The flooding of the Mediterranean Sea was too long ago but it’s quite possible the Flood legends of the Middle East come from events such as you describe, as well as the flooding of the Black Sea, which is much more recent.

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