03 June 2010

Mesa Verde and Anatolia

There is remarkable similarity, almost certainly from convergent, independent evolution of techniques rather than a diffusion of ideas, between the Ancient Puebloan civilization of Mesa Verde at the state it was in shortly before its peoples moved to cliff dwellings ca. 1000 CE onwards (my family took a trip there last weekend), and the earliest cities and temples in the Turkey.

Nearby Catal Hoyuk, the earliest city in Turkey, dates to about 11,500 BCE. looks very much like the villages built atop Mesa Verde with access via roof ladders to multiple dwellings that share walls.

The oldest temple in Turkey, at Gobekli Tepe, is about two thousand years older. It within twenty miles or so of the place where wheat was first domesticated and also very close to the original site of the domestication of rye. It uses a masonry construction similar to that of Mesa Verde and has circular structures ringed by stone pillars bearing a general similarity to the early kivas of the Ancient Puebloans. The art in the temple also bears similarites to Ancient Puebloan petroglyphs.

The earth mother religion found in Pueblo Indian tradition also shows strong similarities to the religion believed to be practiced at Gobekli Tepe which remained a strong strain of religion in the region roughly until the Indo-Europeans arrived on the scene. The burial customs show some similarities to tumulus burials in Europe and Asia, and the arid conditions lead to the preservation of natural mummies, much as they did in Egypt, Scandinavia, and the Tarim Basin.

(Notably, the current museum and park displays make no mention of the burial customs of the Ancient Puebloans aka Anasazi, despite the fact that this was a central part of the focus of the park in from the 1930s and are a key part of European and Asian presentations of ancient cultures. A reburial of about 1500 sets of human remains conducted privately by Hopi Indians was conducted in 2006.)


Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Even massacres like those of a Pueblo tribe at Sacred Ridge in Colorado resemble closely massacres in very early Neolithic people in SW Eurasia:

"Attackers with a deadly plan climbed a knoll to a Pueblo village called Sacred Ridge around 1,200 years ago. What happened next was anything but sacred.

At least 35 people, roughly half of those living in the village, were brutalized, killed and sliced into thousands of small pieces. Fellow Pueblo from nearby villages battered victims’ feet hard enough to break toes and fracture heels. Blows delivered with blunt weapons crushed the faces and heads of men, women and children. Scalps, and possibly eyes and ears, were removed, perhaps as trophies.

Wielders of sharp stone implements chopped up victims’ bodies in at least four Sacred Ridge structures. Attackers removed the roof of a large house and threw in heaps of human body parts, some of which had been fished from burning hearths. Several village dogs met the same fate. . . .

An ethnically distinct Pueblo clan living at Sacred Ridge maintained tenuous authority over at least two other ethnic groups inhabiting Ridges Basin, Stodder contends. Dire food shortages and anger toward better-provisioned Sacred Ridge elites motivated a raid aimed at destroying an entire lineage and its collective identity . . . Within 15 years of the massacre, Pueblo people abandoned Ridges Basin. Later Pueblo settlements, known for stone and adobe dwellings built along cliff walls, appeared elsewhere in the Four Corners region. . . .

Hopi, Zuni and other Pueblo groups have for centuries killed people regarded as malevolent sorcerers controlled by unseen, wicked forces. Children are viewed as particularly easy prey for evil spirits seeking bodies and souls to commandeer for nefarious purposes.

Procedures for destroying witches include mutilating, cutting up and burning bodies so evil spirits have no human vessels to inhabit. Victims end up looking much like those found by Potter’s team. . . .

Martin’s account sounds plausible to anthropologist Richard Chacon of Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. Chacon has conducted fieldwork among several Native American societies in South America, including Achuar blowgun hunters in Ecuador and Yora bow-and-arrow hunters in Peru. Villagers in these societies often attribute epidemics and other community misfortunes to witchcraft practiced by shamans and others living in neighboring villages, Chacon says. Warriors who kill alleged witches are considered heroes for having performed a vital public service, he notes. That includes the torture and killing of children accused of sorcery."

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...


"At a cave dubbed Ofnet, in Bavaria in 1908, a researcher uncovered two small pits with more than 30 human skulls. Later investigations suggested that someone had intentionally cracked many of the skulls before placing them in the cave (SN: 4/20/91, p. 254). The skulls, which date to about 7,200 years ago, belonged to men and women and to adolescents and children. Some say the findings suggest that violence was an integral part of ancient social behavior.

At a settlement in southern Germany, hundreds of people were butchered and eaten over the course of decades some 7,000 years ago, scientists have proposed (SN: 1/2/10, p. 10). They argue that skeletal markings indicate human bodies were butchered in the same way as animals. Others argue that the findings are consistent with ceremonial reburial practices.

Investigations in Schletz, Austria, beginning in 1983 have revealed the skeletal remains of 67 individuals with multiple traumas. Studies suggest a settlement’s entire population was exterminated about 7,000 years ago. The bodies were left unburied in an oval trench for months.

A fortification ditch at Crow Creek in South Dakota holds the remains of nearly 500 men, women and children. The individuals are believed to represent 60 percent of their village, which dates to 1325. Nearly all of the individuals’ remains, uncovered in 1978, showed signs of trauma and mutilation. Most also revealed evidence of scalping, decapitation and dismemberment."