EVIDENCE OF ANCIENT AGRICULTURE
Was it practiced in Atlantean times?
By R. Cedric Leonard
|“Of all the cultural innovations created by man, certainly one of the most profound in its effects has been the invention of agriculture. This seemingly simple discovery of planting, cultivating and harvesting food provided the basis for larger populations and opened the way to all of the complex societies and higher civilizations that followed. Why and how it came about after more than a million years of hunting are questions that archaeologists and natural scientists are today trying to answer.”
The above words penned by Dr. Robert H. Dyson (1973), professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and Curator of the Near Eastern Section of the University Museum, express clearly the importance of agriculture to civilization. The invention of writing is important and can do much to consolidate a culture, but without agriculture high civilization can never occur.
It is generally held that agriculture began six to eight thousand years ago at Catal Huyuk in Turkey, at Jarmo in northeastern Iraq and among the Starcevo Koros sites in Rumania and Yugoslavia. But was this beginning an “invention,” or merely a resurgence?
Dr. Philip E. L. Smith (1976), professor of anthropology at the University of Montreal, utilizes the term “invent” to describe the shocking appearance of agriculture in the Nile Valley thousands of years too early in the so-called “Late Paleolithic”. An alternative explanation for this apparent “anomaly” might be that this is a case of an Atlantean colony making use of techniques already “invented” in Atlantis. Let’s take a look at these archeological discoveries.
At several sites on the Kom Ombo Plain (10,000-13,000 B.C.) numerous grinding stones used for the processing of food have been excavated. Elsewhere in Egypt during the same period flint blades, polished with use and looking suspiciously like sickles, have also been found. (Smith, 1976) Several workers, Dr. J. Desmond Clark, professor of African prehistory at the University of California among them, have found evidence of similar activity, not only at Kom Ombo but in several other places in the lower Nile Valley. Prof. Clark writes:
“It is all the more surprising, therefore, that the appearance of food production in north Africa is relatively sudden and we have as yet no evidence of the initial stages towards incipient cultivation there that we know in the Levant and Mesopotamia.” (Clark, 1970)
The reason such “initial stages” can’t be found may be that they occurred previously in Atlantis. Late Aterian sites have been found as far east as Kharga Oasis in the western deserts of Egypt, and also along the Nile in Nubia. (Clark, 1970) The Aterian people were type de Mechta (Cro-Magnon-like); therefore, we gather that the Cro-Magnon invasions of North Africa had spread eventually into Egypt and the Nile Valley.
Physically the inhabitants of the Kom Ombo Plain were fully modern Homo sapiens, which Smith describes as “rather robust” in build (Smith, 1976). Such a description fits the type de Mechta, which is the North African version of European Cro-Magnon Man: skeletal specimens increase in numbers in the direction of the Atlantic Ocean—strong evidence pointing to an origin in the west (Briggs, 1955).
Prof. Fred Wendorf and Dr. Romuald Schild, both of the Department of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University, have made discoveries related to agriculture in Upper Paleolithic times at Wadi Kubbaniya. Grinding stones, a mortar and pestle, and several harvesting implements have turned up. C-14 dates ranged from 15,000 to 16,300 B.C. Specific C-14 dates were 15,850 B.C. (±200 years) and 15,130 B.C. (±200 years). (Wendorf & Schild, 1981)
Typical grinding stone
Cereal grains were also found at the same levels as the agricultural implements, which created a degree of excitement. However, tandem Accelerator-Mass-Spectrometer tests conducted at the AMS facility in Tuscon Arizona indicated that modern charred wheat and barley grains (originally thought to be as old as the archeological artifacts) had somehow contaminated the lower levels of the site (a phenomenon yet to be explained). (Wendorf, et al.,1984)
The two archeologists offered this observation concerning the abundance of agricultural sites being discovered: “These are not the only Late Paleolithic sites which have been discovered in Egypt along the Nile, nor are they alone in containing stone artifact assemblages which seem to indicate the harvesting of grain. Among others are several sites at Wadi Tushka, near Abu Simbel, at Kom Ombo, north of Aswan, and a third group [a whole series of sites] near Esna. All these are in the Nile Valley.” The Esna sites, which exhibit “extensive use of cereals,” date from 13,000 to 14,500 years ago. (Wendorf & Schild, 1981) (To compare with Ice Age temperature variations click on Last Ice Age.)
They further elaborate: “While the flaked stone industries from them are different from those found at Kubbaniya, the Tushka site yielded several pieces of stone with lustrous edges, indicating that they were used as sickles in harvesting grain.” (Wendorf & Schild, 1981)
After excavating numerous grinding stones associated with the Sebilian and Mechian cultures dating 10,000-13,000 B.C., Smith writes: “With the benefit of hindsight we can now see that many Late Paleolithic peoples in the Old World were poised on the brink of plant cultivation and animal husbandry as an alternative to the hunter-gatherer’s way of life” (Smith, 1976). This seems to be clear admission by Prof. Smith that incipient agriculture was bring practiced in North Africa during the Late Paleolithic leading into the Mesolithic Age.
Where Dr. Smith and I part company is when he refers to such activities as a “false dawn,” which tells me he thinks it’s a fluke. It’s equally possible that these people were actually continuing an activity familiar to them in Atlantis; and that the practice was interrupted by the horrendous climatic changes and seismic disturbances accompanying the end of the Ice Age. We could be looking at a “twilight” of an agricultural practice, rather than a so-called “false dawn”.
A mortar and pestle (drawing)
According to Dr. Thomas W. Jacobsen, classical archeologist at the University of Pennsylvania, there are indications that during the Final Paleolithic Age in Greece both plant and animal domestication had taken place. (Jacobsen, 1976)
The site, Franchthi Cave in the Peloponnese, yielded numerous microliths in various geometric shapes—triangles, trapezoids, denticulates—all dating from the Upper Paleolithic. In his opinion, the microliths, embedded in hardwood or bone, formed the cutting edge for sickles used in the harvesting of grain.
Jacobsen comments: “The microliths, many of them geometric, would have been equally useful to hunters as projectile points, to fishermen as harpoon barbs, and possibly even to the collectors of plants as a cutting edge for primitive sickles . . . the required analyses remain to be carried out” (Jacobsen, 1976). Intensive study of wear patterns along the edges of the microliths should eventually reveal their specific uses.
Identical microliths are found among numerous other Upper Paleolithic sites throughout Spain, France, Crete, and even North Africa; but generally their connection with harvesting has gone unrecognized. For instance, at Mas d’Azil in southern France Edouard Piette found a quantity of barley seeds along with microliths, suggesting that the Azilians (a Cro-Magnon people) had been cultivating that species of cereal. It seems some rethinking of the function of microliths might be in order.
Microliths are found among the Magdalenians (also Cro-Magnons), going back thousands of years into the Upper Paleolithic: and they have also been found in abundance among the Mouillian and Capsian sites of North Africa (Briggs, 1955). It is possible that all these Late Paleolithic people were using the sickle to harvest grain.
Agriculture in South America has also been continually pushed back by new discoveries. Some time ago Prof. Robert Banfer, leader of an anthropological team from the University of Missouri, discovered an ancient farming village near Paloma, Peru. Carbon-14 dates of charcoal fragments place the date of the village at no later than 8,000 B.C. (Hammond, 1981)
The village contained hundreds of grass-lined food storage pits, demonstrating that these early farmers were thoroughly familiar with food production, storage and control. According to Banfer, the evidence indicates that they practiced a primitive technique of farming which denuded the countryside, eventually turning it into a desert. Among other crops, they grew peanuts, squash, and various kinds of peppers. (Hammond, 1981)
Even more startling is the discovery by archeologist G. F. Carter (1957) of matates and manos dating to 55,000-80,000 years ago at Point Loma and La Jolla near San Diego, California (I was stationed there in the U.S. Navy at the time). This was a controversial find, and during the intervening years the scientific community has conveniently swept this “under the rug”.
Small slender, leaf-shaped points—looking for all the world like Solutrean flints—double-convex knives, broad-stemmed knives, and numerous fine plano-convex tools dating from 13,000 to 28,000 B.C. were also found by Carter (1957) in the San Diego area. Were there “Solutrean” people in North America at the same time the Solutreans were in western Europe? (Click on Atlanteans in America for answer.)
Does the above collection of data concerning the practice of (at least incipient) agriculture during the Upper Paleolithic (i.e., during Atlantean times) prove that the Atlanteans practiced agriculture? No. But it illustrates clearly that the principles of agriculture were certainly known and used during those times by the very people who appear to have arrived in Western Europe and Northwest Africa from the direction of Atlantis! And this was thousands of years before agriculture began to be practiced in the Near East along the Fertile Crescent.
And is it mere coincidence that the available evidence suggests that the so-called “beginning” of agriculture appears first among the Natufian people in Palestine—an Atlantean outpost, according to our hypothesis? I would classify the Natufian efforts (circa. 10,000 B.C.) as a “resurgence” (rather than an “invention”) of agriculture, which eventually spread into other areas of the Fertile Crescent—a mere “restart” of an activity which had been going on for thousand of years in Nubia, Egypt, Greece, and likely in Atlantis.
This much we know for sure. The civilization of Atlantis described by Plato could not have existed if agriculture was unknown to its people. According to Plato’s Critias, they not only practiced agriculture, but also utilized an extensive irrigation network, which greatly enhanced the natural productivity of the land. This was the “key” allowing them to attain a state of high civilization.
The archeological data presented in this article demonstrates that the principles of agriculture were known several thousand years before the Ice Age came to a close: yet we have been led to believe that the inhabitants of the Fertile Crescent “invented” agriculture for the very first time only 8,000 to 9,000 years ago.
No doubt the beginning of agriculture was a momentous occurrence, whether occurring in Atlantis or elsewhere. Hunting and gathering will not support large aggregations of people living in one place; neither will it allow people to establish permanent cities, since such populations must follow migrating herds when subsistence depends mainly on hunting.
We are also told that the domestication of animals did not occur until after Atlantis was long gone, but Plato’s sources may have been accurate on this issue as well. Plato mentions sacrificial bulls and a horse-race track; and according to Plato the Atlantean priests wore cloth robes, indicating that they either grew cotton or had domesticated the sheep. As promised some time ago, I am finally offering a page on the Domestication of Animals.
Glossary of Terms
Briggs, L. Cabot, “The Stone Age Races of Northwest Africa,” Bulletin No. 18, American School of Prehistoric Research, Cambridge, 1955.
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Last update: 29 Jul 2008.