Friday, 12 June 2009

Human Evolution on Trial - 'Human Star - The Last Point'

Human Star - 'The Last Point'

Ancient humans, such as Neanderthals, never managed to reach many places in the last point of the human star, the Mediterranean Islands. Or if they did they had died out long before any modern humans reached there. Animals isolated on each island altered from their mainland relatives: Elephants less than one metre high, dwarf deer, land hippos, giant tortoises and dormice, and the strange animal Myotragus (Attenborough 1987, and see “Evolution” [Ruminants]). All these unusual animals survived until humans finally reached the islands, some time after the end of the ice age. For some islands this may have been as recently as 4500 BC (Warren and Hankey 1989), but for most probably at least 1000 if not 2000 years earlier. The unusual animals all rapidly died out (Tudge 1996). The defence suggests that when we know the timing of these extinctions we will then know the detailed history of human expansion through this subpoint of the human star.

Islands Again

Where had the required boating technology come from? Some form of it is obviously very ancient. The Australian Aborigines’ ancestors must have used boats to get to Australia 50,000 years ago. It is very likely any improvements in the technology had spread around the world though. There is no evidence for for cultural contact across the Mediterranean Sea, between the Northwest European and West African points of the human star, until at least most of the Mediterranean Islands nearest Europe had been occupied.

The earliest wooden paddle has been found in Denmark from about 5600 years ago (Cunliffe 1994). Of course this means nothing in relation to earlier times, but it would make sense that there had been improvements to any boating technology in the region. As the ice sheets shrank sea level rose in the Northwest European point. Land in the region also rose as the weight of ice was removed. In fact it’s still rising (Gohau 1991, and Jones 2000). The margins of land, sea and fresh water lakes changed constantly. There is actually evidence of contact along the Atlantic coast of Europe, including Britain and Ireland, from about 8000 years ago. This was when rising sea level after the end of the ice age first opened the English Channel. People from along the whole Atlantic coast from Norway and Sweden to Spain and Portugal have been renowned as sailors for a very long time. On land, with the end of the ice age, forest had returned to Europe (Cunliffe 1994). Human groups became effectively isolated (Clark 1969). In heavily forested regions rivers and lakes become the easiest routes of communication, as they were in pre-European New Zealand. Progressive improvements in boating meant people became more mobile.

You can see from any map that several contact routes between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean are possible. Through the Strait of Gibraltar is the most obvious but a lot of evidence shows this route is unlikely to have been used early on. Technology follows ecological routes. Rivers are the most likely contact routes between Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean. There is evidence for movement involving the Garonne in the south of France and we’ll come back to this soon [The Western End]. But the earliest contact using improved boats was probably by an easier route, via closely connected rivers to the Black Sea, and then the Aegean.

Cavalli-Sforza’s maps of the fourth, fifth and sixth principal components for European genes represent much smaller population movements than do the maps the defence has used so far. There have obviously been many other even smaller genetic movements in Europe though, and we know some from history. I’ll offer my own interpretations for the patterns revealed in these last three maps, and for this purpose it will be convenient to leave the fourth principal component till last. The map of the fifth principal component of European genes shows one genetic extreme is isolated in the Basque region of Spain and Southwestern France (map 22). The genetic combination most different to it is represented by a swathe from Northwestern Europe to the western shore of the Black Sea. It reaches Northwestern Turkey, Greece, at least some Greek Islands, Sicily and possibly North Africa. This certainly looks as though it represents a movement of people, and presumably language, through the region from the northwest, probably along rivers.

My feeling is that the map represents a movement of people using skin, reed, or birch-bark canoes. These may have been part of the Mesolithic culture called “Maglemosian”. It developed in Europe from about 10,000 years ago, the end of the ice age. People from this culture certainly went fishing with nets, hooks, harpoons and spears, and they had primitive stone axes with which they eventually made dugout canoes from birch trees (Clark 1969).

We can presume any technology spread further than the genes. In fact the Early Maglemosian shows connections to the “Natufian” of the Middle East (Clark 1969). The Natufians lived through Southern Turkey, Canaan and the lower Nile valley. They founded the very ancient city Jericho (Roe 1971). Like the people of the Gravettian before them they made female figurines and, along with people from the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, they were the first farmers in the Middle East. From the evidence presented earlier (“North to Alaska” [Neighbours]) it’s possible that both the Hamito-Semitic and Elamite / Dravidian languages derive from one originally carried from Northwest Europe just 10,000 years ago.

Map 22 suggests that these people had been able to reach in the Northwestern Mediterranean. They were able to venture further out onto the more exposed islands as boating technology improved. You may find it interesting to recall the Pacific region at this stage. A major improvement in later boating technology seems to have been associated with the appearance of the edge-ground axe. Interestingly this didn’t appear in Europe until near the end of the Maglemosian, about 5000 BC.


Whenever the earliest open water sailors managed to arrive at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, possibly nearly eight thousand years ago (Cunliffe 1994), they met people who were already starting to farm. The farming cultures that developed in the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile River valleys adopted the improved boats, and possibly a new language. Rivers became the main communications (Leick 2001) and allowed the development of trading centres, cities and, ultimately, central governments, palaces and states. The canoe spread overland into the Indus and Hwang-Ho Rivers. People from Taiwan were able to begin their movement into the Pacific Ocean though, as the jury saw in Part II, improved boating may have already been introduced there from the north. I have often mentioned that human movements have occasionally been in reverse. For example I said in “Polynesian Origins” [Taiwan] that evidence from Austronesian languages suggests people with improved boating technology may have moved back to Taiwan from the Philippines. Technology and genes move backwards and forwards. I would like to suggest the dugout canoe might have actually been developed near Taiwan and then spread to Europe. Pottery appeared in the Middle East about 5500 BC (Stringer and McKie 1996) and may have been introduced from the east along with the dugout canoe and polished stone axes.

Cavalli-Sforza’s next map, the sixth principal genetic component for Europe, suggests an expansion from the Eastern Shore of the Black Sea. It moved through Europe and then along the Atlantic coast (map 23). This is the reverse of the movement suggested by the fifth component and indicates to me an improved boating ability, especially as it appears to be associated with the swiftly flowing River Rhine. The expansion reached the Mediterranean at both the western and eastern ends. The pottery and axes in the map are from Roe (1971).

The genetic expansion shown in map 23 may be associated with the migration about 5000 BC of the Linear pottery or Danubian people mentioned in “Indo-Europeans” [Mingling]. I have periodically brought the jury’s attention to the evidence for a possible early language chain from North American Na-Dene in the east to Basque in the west, and including Caucasian (Georgian), Ket, Sino-Tibetan and the Polynesian languages (map 20). The Danubian people may have been simply the western end of this dialect chain.

The Western End

With the arrival of the efficient dugout canoe people from somewhere around the Mediterranean (probably from several places) were, like many people in the Pacific, able to be the first onto the more isolated islands. Domesticated animals (Attenborough 1987) and pottery known as “Cardial Impressed Ware” (shown at the bottom left of map 23), along with polished stone axes (Clark 1969), were introduced to many of the islands.

European cultures next evolved through the complex interplay of three strands; what were by then the original inhabitants, along with these separate Mediterranean Cardial Impressed Ware and northern Linear pottery population movements.

It’s time to move back to Cavalli-Sforza’s map of the fourth component of the level of genetic variability of Europe. We’ll reach the more widely dispersed Greek genetic extreme later [Phoenician Friends]. The other genetic extreme is in Ireland. Areas of similarity appear at other places very distant from each of the two extremes though. The map seems to represent an anticlockwise cycle of population movement, each genetic extreme touching the Mediterranean Sea and one stretching along the Atlantic coast as well. If we regard the apparent genetic similarity between Iraq / Iran and Northwestern Europe as being a result of their equal genetic distance from the Greek type, and then ignore the eastern area, we get the map the defence presents as “The Atlantic Coast” (map 24).

I’ve drawn the boundary along the middle of the two genetic extremes in the map of the fourth principal component. The pots at bottom left of the map are “bell beaker”, and at the top middle “funnel beaker”, a type found in early times across the North European plain. At the bottom, below them, is an Anatolian pot from the Greek section of the map.

About 2000 to 2500 BC people carrying bell beaker pottery moved from the Atlantic coast of Europe into the Mediterranean (Cunliffe 1994). They almost certainly came via the Garonne River in Southern France, and possibly they were the first people onto the most remote islands. It is even possible they brought the idea of building in stone and the solar calendar into the Mediterranean, and so to Egypt and the Middle East. In this last point of the human star continuing improvements in boating technology led to shifting centres of trade. This led to the movement of people and genes around the Mediterranean (Hammer et al 2000). In fact the movement continues today.

Eventually the idea of central government, rich palaces and writing was introduced to the Mediterranean Islands from the Eastern Shore. Cities, trading centres and civilisations were established on Crete and Cyprus with outliers on Malta, Sardinia and Corsica. Ultimately, by about 2000 BC, the main centre seems to have been Crete (Attenborough 1987) although Cyprus, along with Ugarit and Byblos on the mainland in Canaan were probably also important. This sea-going trading network is presumably the origin of the Minoan civilisation. Unfortunately the first writing on Crete, Minoan A, has not yet been translated; the language cannot be connected to any other.

It seems that even at this late stage contacts and trade between the ancient civilisations east of the Mediterranean Sea, in the Nile, Mesopotamian and Indus river valleys, were largely over land rather than by sea. For example although humped cattle probably arrived in Africa from India by sea this seems to have taken place as recently as 2000 years ago (Jones 2001). However connection with Europe had to be at least partly by sea, even if only across the short gap in Northwest Turkey guarded by the ancient city Troy. This is probably why the eastern Mediterranean became so important in boating’s development. Improvements in this technology spread fairly rapidly to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf though.

The Eastern End

Writing probably originated about 6000 years ago in Mesopotamia, what is today Iraq (“Time” [A Short History of the Earth]). The first written language seems to have been Sumerian. In fact religious ceremonies in Mesopotamia were carried out in the Sumerian language long after it had been replaced among the general population by various Semitic languages, including Akkadian. This is not surprising as the Maori language is commonly used in New Zealand during formal, ceremonial or ritual occasions. In many places Latin was similarly used until relatively recently. Even biblical Hebrew survived until modern times only as a sacred language. The word alcohol is possibly a Sumerian survivor.

Evidence suggests that the Sumerian-speaking people were themselves immigrants into the region. The Sumerian language may have been related to some ancestor of a modern Georgian or Caucasian language. But it may branch as early as the defence showed in the language tree (“Culture” [Languages]). If you refer back to map 23 you will notice that Italy and parts of the Balkan Peninsular lie outside the possible Caucasian / Basque expansion. It is remotely possible, but very unlikely, that early Minoan and Etruscan descend from languages spoken by Aurignacian people, and that Sumerian and even Nilo-Saharan are distantly related to them. We have now reached the dawn of history.

Writing was eventually adapted to serve other languages in the region. This has preserved many ancient myths. Mesopotamian myth suggested Eridu in southern Mesopotamia was the first city built in the region, and archaeology has largely confirmed this (Leick 2001). There is evidence for several floods in Mesopotamia during the early stages of the development of cities, about 4000 to 3000 BC (Tudge 1996), and myths of a great flood sent as divine punishment seem to have originated in that region (Leick 2001). The earliest temple yet found is on a natural rise above the plains at Eridu in Southern Iraq. Fish seems to have been eaten in ritual meals there. Perhaps Eridu, rather than Urartu, was Ararat? The mountain we know as Ararat is really called Ağri Dagi. And stories grow. It’s probable that the ziggurats or towers, the focal point for southern Mesopotamian cities, began as places of refuge during floods, even if only for the Gods. The Ziggurats probably gave rise to the story of the tower of Babel. The jumble of languages spoken in the cities of Mesopotamia could certainly be used to convince people that the different languages had developed there.


There is still a great deal of work to be done on dating these ancient civilisations. There are many inconsistencies and gaps. And it’s actually fairly rare to find carbon dates for Ancient Egypt or the Middle East. The excuse is that carbon dating is not accurate enough to tell us exactly which Pharaoh or King a particular item is associated with. But it would give us an independent confirmation of the rough date. Perhaps confusion is useful.

Comparing pottery styles provides the main method of dating around the Mediterranean Islands for the period. We have pottery styles known as Late Helladic IIIA2, Early Cypriot II, Middle Minoan IA, Philistine, etc. Finds of one sort of pottery overlying another, or pottery from one region being found with pottery of another kind in an already dated sequence, provide relative dates. Absolute dates have historically usually been obtained by connecting the sequences to the Pharaoh lists of Egypt or the King lists of Mesopotamia. These have been adjusted to fit in with information from the Bible. But all three sources of dating are equally unreliable.

A recent study of pottery, astronomy and a re-examination of the Assyrian King lists has shown that dates in Mesopotamia before 1400 BC have probably been lengthened by at least 100 years (Gasche et al 1998). The possibility they may have been lengthened by more than 100 years is rejected only because shortening the dates even more would then conflict with the currently accepted dates for the late 18th dynasty of Egypt. If the Pharaoh lists have been wrongly dated this would put the whole dating system out. But it’s possible the third intermediate period in Egypt (the period from 1000 BC to about 500 BC) has been expanded. Pharaohs who served concurrently in different regions of Egypt may have been placed into a sequential order (Rohl 1995). No ancient Pharaoh list includes dynasties 21 to 25 (Shaw 2000) and there may also be a greater overlap of the 20th dynasty with the Third Intermediate period than is normally conceded.

Peter James (1991) in his book “Centuries of Darkness” argues that dates before about 800 BC may have been stretched by anywhere between 100 to 250 years. There is opposition to his suggestion though and his arguments have largely been rejected (Clayton 1994).

Anyway, even if the chronology in the Mediterranean Islands and the Middle East is altered it doesn’t actually alter the overall order of events. But many conflicts in dating do disappear. The dates begin to fit like a glove. Periods in each region where nothing seems to happen for hundreds of years are eliminated. For example altering the chronology shortens the unbelievably long reign of the Kassite rulers in Babylon when nothing happens for more than 400 years. It also makes sense of the sudden development of building in stone, and puts the law tablets of Hammurabi closer to a possible time for a Moses and his law tablets. And the development of writing in Greece can be seen to proceed directly from Phoenician scripts without having to imagine it somehow surviving unchanged for about 200 years, and being used only on perishable materials (James 1991). Shortened chronology also means there is complete continuity between Mycenae and ancient Greece. This makes sense of the Troy legends. They are difficult to account for under traditional dating. Human migration in the region now becomes continuous gene flow.

Gene Flow

Using the wave theory, history in the Last Point, the Mediterranean Islands, becomes:

The Minoan civilisation came to monopolise sea trade between the Middle East and Europe. A major item traded into Europe was alcohol, leading to interesting comparisons with more recent times. On the other hand, land trade between the Middle East and Europe was through trading centres in what are now Turkey and Western Iran, and included the Black and Caspian Seas. The trading centres were gradually taken over by Indo-European-speaking people moving south from the west, the east, and through the Caucasus Mountains (Chahin 2001). Various combinations of people in the region developed into the Hittites and Hurrian groups (Urartu and Mittani) and possibly the Kassites and Gutians (“Indo-Europeans” [The Chariot]).

As you saw in Part II possession of the recently invented chariot, probably developed by Indo-Europeans, allowed the Canaanite, Semitic-speaking Hyksos people to take over northern Egypt for more than a hundred years. As usual this was by infiltration rather than invasion. In ancient writings the destruction of a people should not necessarily be interpreted as genocide. History tells the story of the upper classes and it is usually mainly they who are destroyed. The peasants don’t matter and their genes often remain largely undisturbed.

Peter James (1991) claims that carbon dating south of Egypt, in Nubia, indicates the Hyksos were 200 years more recent than the traditional dates used. Therefore when the Hyksos were eventually pushed back into Canaan from Egypt it was possibly as late as 1350 BC (traditionally 1570). Plenty late enough to enter history as the wandering tribes of Israel mentioned in the Bible. In fact two thousand years ago the historian Josephus made exactly this connection (Coogan 1998), but as it conflicts with one or two details of the mythconception any connection has been rejected. But any other period proposed for the Exodus introduces a whole host of other problems (Campbell 1976).

Interestingly immediately after the Hyksos period many Egyptian pharaohs had names that in the Greek form, Thuthmosis (born of Thoth) or Ahmosis (born of Iah the moon), contain an element suspiciously similar to the name Moses. Even the name Ramesses, a name used by many later Pharaohs, could quite validly be written Ra-Moses (Ra, the sun). Is it a coincidence that the element “Moses” was not used as part of any Pharaoh’s name until immediately after the Hyksos expulsion? It has long been admitted the name is Egyptian in origin (Campbell 1976). Perhaps the Hyksos borrowed the name for political reasons.

To return to the theory of negativity; any argument as to why the Hyksos were not the wandering tribes is based solely on Chinese drover’s clever dog syndrome, juggling the evidence to fit a mythconception. There are certainly many similarities in the two events. Of course the Egyptians claim they kicked them out and the Old Testament claims it took a major effort, including divine intervention, to escape. But history always depends on whose side of the story you hear. A shortened chronology would make the evidence exactly fit this interpretation. In the 1950s the archeologist Kathleen Kenyon even suggested the fleeing Hyksos may have been responsible for the Bronze Age destruction of the ancient Natufian city Jericho (Sturgis 2001). Interestingly the eruption of Thera, often used these days to explain events around the Old Testament Exodus, has been dated to around 1600 BC, the traditional dating for the Hyksos expulsion. Perhaps Biblical chronology has been hauled in? Anyway we can presume the Hyksos didn’t simply vanish off the face of the earth. Their Pharaohs would have been remembered in myth in any regions of Canaan that had been, or later came, under their influence. Solomon’s Kingdom may belong in this period.

Back in the Mediterranean Islands gene flow was still going on. Indo-European-speaking Mycenaeans from Mainland Greece who had been allied with, or subordinate to, the Minoans took over most of the sea trade routes, probably during the reign of Pharaoh Thuthmosis III (possibly as recently as 1250 BC, traditionally 1500 to 1450). The language introduced to Crete at this time, and used in writing Minoan B, is an early form of Greek. At the same time, under Thuthmosis III, the Egyptians attacked the Hyksos remnants at Megiddo and extended Egyptian control over Canaan. But a hundred years later the region appears to have had some level of independence under Akhenaten (traditionally 1350-1334 BC).

A shortened chronology puts Akhenaten into a period where his religion could well have influenced the Israelites’ belief in a single God. The “Hymn to Aten,” possibly composed by Akhenaten himself, is similar to Psalm 104 in the Bible and is probably the source for the Psalm (James 1991, Clayton 1994, and Coogan 1998). The influence could easily have been the other way though. Each city in Mesopotamia seems to have worshiped only one god (and usually his wife as well) when they were founded (Leick 2001). Once the idea caught on that one city could conquer and control other cities it became politically advantageous to accommodate several gods. The survival at Jerusalem of the idea of one god (and his wife? See Sturgis 2001) may simply be yet another example of innovations in the central area of a culture failing to reach the marginal regions of that culture. The whole of this case has provided an endless series of examples of this phenomenon in the fields of genetics, technology and culture, especially language, and even for species.

After the death of Akhenaten’s successor (Tutankhamun) the Egyptians once more extended their control over Canaan. They were stopped from further northward expansion at the indecisive battle Ramesses II fought with the Hittites at Kadesh (traditionally 1275 BC, but perhaps as recently as the time of any biblical Kingdom of David, see Rohl 1995).

The Sea People

As long-distance sailing technology improved it became more widespread. Central power in Mycenae broke down. A migration known to history as “The Sea People” expanded around the Mediterranean Islands and even began to threaten Egypt during the reign of Ramesses III (traditionally about 1170 BC). Again this was not a single migration by a single group of people. They had been infiltrating Canaan for many years before this, often mixing with North African groups; evidence for contact across the Mediterranean between Europe and Africa. Tribes such as the “Lukka”, “Sherden” and “Denen” are mentioned as early as the time of Akhenaten (Shaw 2000). The Sea People became established on the eastern Mediterranean shore and the group known as Peleset, Philistines or Palestinians may have fought David and Saul as they established a small independent hill Kingdom.

The Bible itself records that the Philistines had a monopoly on iron working (Clark 1969, and Sturgis 2001) and so the Sea People had probably introduced it to the region. As usual the new technology’s introduction had led to a population expansion. The evidence indicates that the hill country in the modern state of Israel was extensively resettled around this time (Coogan 1998, and Sturgis 2001). It has even been suggested the Israelite tribe “Dan” is in fact the Sea People tribe “Denen” or “Denyen” and Homer’s “Danaan” (Coogan 1998). Other connections have been made between the tribal groups: Greeks, Sea People and Israelites. Of course, once again, any connection is totally rejected. It conflicts with mythology. All these people with similar names were around during the Late Bronze / Early Iron Age though. And the evidence proves it’s impossible that all the Israelite tribes descend from twelve grandsons of a single mythical Abraham (“Culture” [Evolution of a Religion]). The Troy legends as recorded by Homer and the stories in the Old Testament of the Bible both date from about the same time and have similarities (Campbell 1976). Anyway the Israelite tribes would have been similar to the Maori tribes we looked at in “Change”.

A shortened chronology would mean the disruption caused by the Sea People’s expansion had actually been minimal, but they were probably responsible for the marked weakening of Egyptian power along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea after the time of Ramesses III. Of course he claimed to have beaten them but propaganda is not a recent invention. The decline of Egyptian power became so great that eighty years later an ambassador for an Egyptian high priest seems to have been robbed and humiliated on his way to what is now Lebanon to get timber (Clayton 1994, and Markoe 2000).

It was not until the time of Sheshonq that Egypt regained some degree of political contact or control along the eastern Mediterranean shore. Sheshonq’s dating is traditionally given as about 925 BC but may be more recent. With the gradual expansion of writing we are gradually able to construct more reliable dates for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean history. We know that in 853 BC, to stop the expansion of the Assyrians under Shalmaneser III, Egypt (probably under Osorkon II) was allied with Ammon, some Phoenician and Aramaean Kingdoms, and Israel (under King Ahab) at the battle of Qarqar (Clayton 1994, and Sturgis 2001).

Along the Mediterranean’s eastern shore the periodic weakening of Egyptian and Hittite power had allowed the various independent Phoenician and Philistine Kingdoms, and the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah to appear. In fact the earliest mention of Israel is in an inscription from Egypt conventionally dated to about 1200 BC, the Merneptah victory stele (Coogan 1998). The inscription possibly refers to the campaigns of Ramesses II, Merneptah’s father and fighter of the Hittites though. The usual translation reads “Israel is laid waste and his seed is not”. The remainder of the inscription can be interpreted as indicating that, at the time, the Egyptians considered the word Israel referred to the people who lived around the Yizre’el (Jezreel) Valley, and possibly included the coastal cities of Canaan. The Hittites occupied the land to the north. Egyptian portraits in stone from about this period don’t actually differentiate between Canaanites and Israelites (Coogan 1998, and Sturgis 2001) although, as I said earlier, by this time Sea People tribes had been well established in the Eastern Mediterranean for nearly 150 years. Thirty to forty years later in the time of Ramesses III, though, the next group of immigrants are clearly portrayed in carvings; but these people established themselves only on the southern coastal plain (Philistia) and took over the cities there (Coogan 1998).

Meanwhile the Merneptah inscription goes on to imply that the region called Israel had been allied with some group of Hurrians (possibly called Horites in the Bible) to the north (“Hurru is become a widow because of Egypt”). Perhaps besides the Hittites this group included the people from what is now Lebanon who used to be called Phoenicians.

Phoenician Friends

We can now return at last to Cavalli-Sforza’s map of the fourth principal component of the genetic makeup of Europe. Apart from providing evidence for the genetic similarity along the Atlantic Coast mentioned earlier [The Western End] it also shows an expansion centred on Greece, Southern Italy and Western Turkey (map 25), and possibly North Africa.

The small area of genetic similarity in Lapland is rather difficult to account for so I’ll ignore it. The main cycle of movement does seem to have been northward along the western shore of the Black Sea and into the Ukraine though. The genetic centre of the distribution corresponds fairly well with the region of early Southeast European copper working, and the expansion may have been related in some way to the development of the Indo-Europeans. But the defence has pointed out many times that migrations are seldom a single movement by a single group of people.

The map shows quite a Greek genetic component in Canaan, along the Mediterranean’s eastern shore. Excavations of Philistine cities shows clearly that their pottery (the pot shown in the map is actually Philistine), houses, and other elements of their culture, were Mycenaean and Greek (Coogan 1998, and Sturgis 2001). This fits other evidence that the Sea People came from Greece, Turkey and Southern Italy. They contributed genetically to the Phoenicians even though the Phoenicians themselves, at least by the time they are known to history, spoke a Semitic language. Cultural ties between Philistines and Phoenicians have been recognised for a long time and, unlike people further north, the Phoenicians actually suffered very little disruption during the Sea People’s expansion (Markoe 2000). This suggests the Phoenicians may have participated in that expansion, or at least readily accommodated it.

A great deal of evidence also shows the close relationship between the Phoenicians and the Israelites. In fact the regions of Samaria and the Jezreel Valley were definitely part of the Phoenician cultural region by the time of King Ahab (Markoe 2000). Canaanite and Hebrew are basically the same language (“Culture” [Evolution of a Religion]). And the Bible itself mentions combined trade enterprises to Ophir, and that Solomon got Phoenicians to build his temple. There was presumably a continually shifting series of alliances between all the Canaanites: the Philistines, Phoenicians and Israelites. The Old Testament reflects the alliances existing around the time when the stories were collected, written down and edited (“Culture” [Evolution of a Religion]).

Although tribes have formed in the region the people are basically the same mixture genetically (Olson 2002). Current genetic differences are simply the result of gene flow since any separation. Unfortunately the long history of writing in the Eastern Mediterranean has meant many of these tribal differences and mythconceptions fixed as far back as nearly 3000 years ago have been maintained, and even spread. This is an example of a negative element of culture. Strife in the region (and in many others) has always been fuelled by the blind acceptance of ancient mythconceptions as the absolute truth. Of course myths usually evolve, and are used, to justify possession of particular tracts of land, exactly as they were used in New Zealand in pre-European Maori society. In fact throughout the world they are used today by political leaders for exactly this purpose (and to manipulate their power base). As the defence hinted in “Culture” [Wave Theory of Knowledge] not necessarily only in the most primitive societies. Of course anyone can get away with a really big lie if his or her audience desperately wants to believe it.

Anyway all this interaction of technology and culture in the last point, the Mediterranean Islands, had led to better and better boating ability. The defence even suggested in “Pacific Population” that it’s probable the sail spread to the Pacific after being introduced into the Indian Ocean at the time of Alexander the Great. Technology, genes and culture have been moving huge distances around the earth since we first evolved. The overall improvement in technology means the speed of movement has probably increased though. Human culture is today undergoing major dislocation, and technology is evolving rapidly, but genetic change assisted by gene flow is also still obviously going on. Evolution has not suddenly stopped. In other words the same evolutionary processes continue, from apes until today. We have now come round in a great big circle (like mitochondrial DNA) and this concludes the defence case.

Summing Up

Perhaps the defence should take this opportunity to sum up the evidence offered in favour of the defendant. Even draw some conclusions. A quick word of advice. Never trust anyone you see trying to take advantage of any mythconceptions for their own purposes.

In the beginning I used James Hutton’s idea that the present is the key to the past. From this I was able to suggest some biological rules, and to show they have a general application at all times, and even to all species. Because they have a general application they are likely to be correct. These rules included the idea that change is universal. All species (and most other things) vary through both time and space. Populations at the margins of any particular group’s distribution are usually the most different to the average for that group. But ecological conditions and tribalism can create “margins” even in the centre of a group’s distribution. When certain conditions are met boundaries become porous, hybrid zones are able to form across margins, and new genes spread through a group’s geographic range in a series of waves or ripples. Technology and culture behave in much the same way.

Gene flow through migration, mixing and mingling has been virtually continuous during Human Evolution, right from before our first appearance. In fact gene flow is active in the evolution of all species at all times. In humans it has perhaps been exaggerated. Periodic advances in technology have meant expansion and times of plenty. This has in turn altered the ecology. Times of plenty and altered ecology usually encourage the formation and survival of hybrids. Conversely strife, separation and tribalism occur during times of environmental stress. The usual situation is some kind of interaction between the two extremes.

Since I completed collecting the bulk of this evidence fossils of small people, who have been called ‘hobbits’, have been discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia. The evidence presented during the trial easily explains their presence, but it does show that even the second wave of migration into Australia was further north than usually assumed. There had been an even earlier round of human extinctions on the islands. A further development has been that research released by Patterson et al (2006) indicates the separation between humans and chimpanzees was a very prolonged process. It may have lasted from Sahelanthropus tchadensis times until the emergence of Australopithecus, three to four million years later (“The First Point” [Origin]). It included periods of hybridization similar to that covered in “Change” [Galapagos Finches].

The members of the prosecution are now invited to question the evidence provided or to present an alternative interpretation of it. The defence warns members of the jury not to be swayed by any case that ignores any of the evidence offered though. And watch out for arguments based on Chinese drover’s clever dog syndrome. As a last point perhaps we should remember that, as Stephen Baxter (2003) has written in his biography of James Hutton, “If the present is the key to the past it is also the key to the future”. The defence believes it is not possible for us to make rational decisions in such fields as patriotism, poverty, politics, pollution, population control, climate change, the control and use of finite resources, conservation of threatened species, our physical and mental health and even our place in nature until we all have a rational view of our past. Even under the supposedly benevolent Gaia hypothesis (“Evolution” [Purpose?]) we have no way of knowing when any Intelligent Designer will decide it’s time for us to go. We will have ceased to fulfil the purpose of our evolution.

This story has been about the past. The future is obviously over to you, the jury.

See next :: 'Contents And Finding Your Way Around'

Witnesses Called

Attenborough, David (1987) The First Eden. Guild, London.

Baxter, Stephen (2003) Revolutions in the Earth. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London.

Campbell, Joseph (1976) Occidental Mythology. Penguin Books, New York.

Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi Luca, Menozzi, Paolo and Piazzi, Alberto (1994) The History and Geography of Human Genes. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.

Chahin, M. (2001) The Kingdom of Armenia. Curzon Press, Great Britain.

Clark, Grahame (1969) World Prehistory. Cambridge University Press, UK.

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