Tuesday, September 18, 2007


In a previous post, a very learned UK Atheist and anthropology student and I have been having a splendid time playing tug-of-war about my take on the world. Phillip’s brot up quite a few points others might be wondering about too, so I’ve plunked a tiny fraction of our tiff down here for all to view:

PHIL: Harappan society* could well have been peaceful but since it largely follows your war god take-over you have to explain why its male gods didn't drive it to wars of conquest.

ATHANA: War gods didn’t take over India until well after they took over Europe and the Near East -- not until somewhere between 1500 and 500 BC, and well after the Harappan Civilization had disappeared.

PHIL: Harappan society was certainly not egalitarian.

ATHANA: Can you cite evidence for this Phil? Almost every home in the Harappan Civilization was the same high quality as any other. Almost all had indoor bathrooms and lavatories – something you don’t even see 1500 years later in the Roman world, where only the wealthy had indoor bathrooms and lavatories. As a matter of fact, the next time you see this in human history is c. AD 1950 when much of the Western world at any rate scrapped their outdoor outhouses and moved to indoor plumbing.

PHIL: Neither was Minoan society for that matter [egalitarian].

ATHANA: Again – could you cite evidence? Dietary differences showing on skeletal remains? Differences in grave goods? What? No one anymore thinks the so-called “palaces” were homes to kings and queens. There’s no evidence of any king or queen among the Minoans – or any evidence of any rulers at all. Everyone else around them – Egyptians, Sumerians had despots plastering their faces and bodies over every piece of art they could get their hands on. I think the “palaces” were like our modern shopping malls where you could go and do any societal business you needed to get done – trade in the market, for example, sit and slurp a strawberry sundae, or take trombone lessons.

PHIL: As to the famous Minoan peace, recent evidence has challenged its lack of warfare status. The status of weapons once thought to be ceremonial is now challenged, and evidence of fortifications has been uncovered.

ATHANA: What a tricky little phrase “recent evidence has challenged” is. Have you done any in-depth reading about this “evidence”? Do you know how flimsy it is? Do you know that not all Minoan experts support this “evidence”? Do you know how prehistory works? Everybody piles on the guys who came before them, trying to prove them wrong, picking at every little scrap of data and calling it “evidence.” Especially in certain hot-button areas like the history of warfare and ancient Goddess worship, academicians stand on their heads trying to score points for their ‘team.’ Sometimes it begins to look more like a city soccer match than an academic undertaking.

PHIL: It is also possible that warfare didn't exist because there was no one to fight - the Aegean civilisations being too remote from each other to be territorially threatening (unlike the Middle East).

ATHANA: First, it seems you’re making an assumption that grabbing someone’s territory is the cause of war. Ain’t necessarily so. Furthermore, it takes the good part of a day to drive across the island of Crete – in a gasoline-powered vehicle. There’s a whale of a lot of territory there for one Minoan group to grab from any other. So why don’t we find even 5% of Minoans living in defensible sites on high ground? Why do we find 95% of them living without the protection of city walls? Why do 95% of their so-called weapons have hafting that would never stand up in an actual fight? Where are the warriors buried with their weapons?

PHIL: Minoan society also provides evidence of human sacrifice - that doesn't sound very nurturing to me.

ATHANA: Again, Phil, not all Minoan experts agree that what was found at one single site – Anemospilia – had anything to do with human sacrifice. The archaeologist Nanno Marinatos for one. But the idea certainly appealed to journalists all across the world. Wow! This made hot news! You suddenly lurch from a peaceful, nurturing society to one drenched in the horror of human sacrifice! Boy did that sell papers. Fact is there are alternate explanations for everything found at Anemospilia.

* The Harappans, or Indus Valley Civilization dudes, were an amazing people who lived around the same time as the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians but were as peaceful as doves. They lived over a huge tract of territory that took up a good part of southwest India. They built cities of up to 100,000 dudes and dudettes. They worshipped one or many goddesses, but there’s not much evidence in their art for their gods. They did writing but we’ve not been smart enough yet to decipher it.

1 comment:

Morgaine said...

Philip is part of a new wave of anti-Goddess propaganda. Every time we make a little head way, the patriarchy tries to smack us back into submission. The bottom line is that the majority of academicians are wrong. They may even know that they're wrong, but they're so indoctrinated in patriarchal thinking that they just can't believe that there was 1) any society that worshipped *horrors! a Goddess and 2) that said Goddess peoples were peaceful. Don't we know that big daddy's death cult depends on us believing that history is linear, we are naturally violent, and people cannot live in peace?!

A few people make a lot of money by keeping people like Philip convinced that war is inevitable. It just ain't so, and I'm so glad we have Athana here to help us remember that! We are absolutely able to live in peace, in harmony with Mother Nature and each other, and we'd better get to it while we can.