Pyramid Scheme

Caral, Peruvian city of pyramids – older than Egypt’s pyramids, older than India’s Harappa, and “born in trade and not bloodshed,” its discoverer maintains. (Conical hat tip to LRC.) And see this article for similar claims about Harappa. I’m not qualified to evaluate these claims, but they’re interesting. 

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4 Responses to Pyramid Scheme

  1. Tim December 21, 2007 at 11:15 pm #

    I suspect that once more is known about both Caral and Harappa that more ‘statist’ elements will be discovered. At the same time it could be argued that all civilizations are “born in trade and not bloodshed” . Parasites cannot subsist without a host. It’s just that our history books and received history are, like the Go’uld from TV’s “Star Gate SG-1”, parasites who seem to speak for their silent hosts, surrounded by a captive bodyguard trained to worship their false gods.

  2. Soviet Onion December 22, 2007 at 3:11 am #

    The Çatalhöyük settlement in Turkey predates even Caral, and exhibits some of the same characteristics discussed in this article.

    That said, I think the author’s idea of statelessness might be overly narrow. agree with Tim that there might be some quasi-statist features we’re overlooking. There’s an ingrained bias that causes us to look for distinctively Westphalian aspects, and reject or ignore ones that don’t fit that model, and that we aren’t familiar with.

    I haven’t really looked into the issue of how “public goods” like city planning or Harrappa’s plumbing system could arise through market processes, so naturally this looks to me like evidence of some central authority. Even if it were a non-coercive type of cultural authority, like a theocratic priest caste or mercantile elite, that would still be pretty discouraging.

  3. Gene Callahan December 23, 2007 at 2:58 pm #

    “It took Ruth Shady many years and many rounds of carbon dating to prove that the earliest known civilisation in South Americas—at 2,627 BC–was much older than the Harappa Valley towns and the pyramids of Egypt. ”

    First of all, that ’27’ looks absurd — too many significant digits.

    But, secondly, pyramid building in Egypt started in 2630 BC, making the South American civilization slightly younger than the pyramids, and much younger than the start of civilization in Mesopotamia or Egypt.

  4. Gene Callahan December 23, 2007 at 3:41 pm #

    The claims in the article are very strange:

    “The historians had been searching for this answer in Egypt, Mesopotamia (Iraq), India and China. They didn’t expect to find the first signs of city life in a Peruvian desert.”

    Well, if we accept her dates, they didn’t find them there:
    Urbanization in southern Iraq began around 3700.

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