Thursday, February 9, 2012
I.T. - 2-05 - Transcendence Limits of Ants and Humans
The termite-mounds-dotted meadow this morning was the same as the termite-mounds-dotted meadow yesterday morning, but the tangent I set him on was totally different.
I asked him to gaze at the meadow for 15 minutes, dilating time at the rate of one decade per second, then to tell me what essential difference he saw before and after the 9000-year period of dilated time.
"No essential difference," he said 15 minutes later. "The termite mounds are still termite mounds, and though many generations have come to pass, there is no noticeable evolution in both morphology and physiology."
"Did you see any sign of specialization and cooperation among the mounds after 9 millennia of interactions?" I asked.
"Nope. The mounds all look and work the same before and after, and they behave identically, which is to say they compete for the same resources, mostly grass and dead wood."
"What if the termites were human?"
"I beg your pardon?"
I asked him to open his atlas to the Persian Gulf. "Now play this map backward by 9 millennia, and what would you see?"
"That would take us back to around 7000 BC. What I would see would be the first walled city ever built - Jericho - on the northern tip of the Dead Sea."
"And why was the first city located at Jericho?"
"I have no idea."
"Go back in time another 9000 years, and what do you see?" I asked him.
"Another 9000 years will being us back to about 16000 BC, or 18000 BP, at the height of the last Ice Age, when the sea level was lowered by some 400 feet. The current Persian Gulf is by-and-large shallower than that. So, where the Persian Gulf currently is, there was the 'Persian Valley'. The Persian Gulf did not then exist."
"And what do you think existed in the then Persian Valley?"
"Hard to say. I guess it depends mostly on rainfall," he said, while checking a large volume in the back of the jeep called [ATLAS of WORLD HISTORY]. "Warmish and wettish," he said.
"Therefore, a full-blown ecosystem, comprising both wildlife and human settlements, should exist and thrive thereupon."
"What kind of settlements?"
"I'd say of hunter-gatherers, or nomadic pastoralists, by and large. I doubt that agriculture, especially irrigation-based agriculture, had arisen yet, and if it did, it wouldn't have been wide-spread."
"What would the total human population be?"
"I doubt that such a study has been done."
"Well, okay, let's assume that they were pastoralists, like the Massai here today. We know that in the 1960s, there used to be an original population of about 10,000 Massai living in the Ngorongoro Crater, which has a diameter of about 22.5 kilometers. This makes the size of the crater about 360 sq.km. So the population density is about 28 per square km. Now the size of the Persian Valley was about 240,000 sq.km. So assuming a human population density of 28 humans per sq.km. in the then Persian Valley, its total human population would be about 6.7 million. But let's be conservative and cut this down by 80%. This would still mean a population of 1.3 million."
"How many tribal cultures would that make?"
"Taking the average tribal village size to be about 250, a total population of 1.3 million will make about 5000 tribal villages, or, hundreds of distinct tribal cultures."
"Then, around 12,000 BP, the Ice Age ended, the miles-thick glaciers melted, the sea level rose, and the Persian Valley was submerged, and became the Persian Gulf."
"Over what time period?"
"Years or decades, I guess."
"So, it wouldn't be like a tsunami?"
"Unlikely. It would be a slow yet inexorable advance of the sea up the valley, by maybe a few inches a day inland, something like that."
"So, no one got drowned?"
"Drowned? Not too likely. But killed? More than likely."
"Due to their need for fresh water, they would have to move up-valley, along the course of the then combined river Tigris/Euphrates, through occupied territory. There would be much conflict. And the later in the slow flood, the larger the number of refugees, and the worse the conflict."
"What kind of conflict?"
"Anything from spontaneous spear fights to food shortages due to an ever decreasing land area, and increase in population density."
"How do you visualize this population density increase occurring?"
"I see some kind of population-compression-front sweeping slow-motion up the valley, driven by the advancing water from behind. There would be turmoil among the various tribes as they migrate past each other's territories, perhaps robbing each other of food, perhaps borrowing each other's technology. There might have been inter-tribal warfare involved. There could have been bloodshed. But there could also be inter-tribal exchange and maybe even inter-cultural integration. All in all, 'Anything goes' might be a good answer."
"What happened after the sea level had risen to its fullest extent?"
"I think the population compression front would keep on sweeping up the Upper Tigris/Euphrates basin. It won't stop because the land had been spoken for, already with its own million population in place. It would sweep up Sumer, then Mesopotamia, then, blocked by the mountains of modern day Turkey, sweep leftward along the Fertile Crescent, until it was stopped by the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, and there, the first city would spring. And, hey, that was where Jericho had sprung!"
"So now," I changed gear, "how would you compare the City of Jericho to a termite mound?"
"Well, it was not just bigger and grander than the antediluvian cultures, it was also much more complex and technologically advanced. But..."
"But I would still put them on the same level of Organization."
"It is the level of the cities, so how about the CITIAN Level of Organization?"
"The Citian Level of Organization it is. So now, how many levels of organization have you identified?"
"Starting from the original inorganic state of the planet Earth, I'll say 4 levels of organization, so far: the Molecular, the Cellular, the Metabion, and the Citian."
"Well done. 4 down, 2 to go."
I am Raminothna
the Fortunate and Called Upon
at your service
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)