Humanity: The World Before Religion, War & Inequality
By Barry Brown 2013.
Ironically, the first major division in prehistoric society came from the same source than once bound people together. The prehistoric record shows no evidence of organized religion until about 4,200 years ago. What is largely accepted is that, from the beginning, humans expressed a sense that all things – people, animals, knowledge and caves – were alive and could communicate with them. This was their spiritual understanding.
What religious practices they used appear to be individual and personal as if each encounter was unique. They shared their ideas through paintings but there is no evidence of any religious hierarchy or organized system of worship.
Organized religion, when it was born was an exercise in nostalgia. It was created to remind people of the way life used to be. Religion as we know it was first born when the unified world of ancient times died.
Religious conflicts began when people no longer agreed on the meaning of that lost world or the best way to rebuild it.
To understand when the old prehistoric world ended and why the new divided world was born we can look to one of world’s oldest histories: The Bible.
Most people think of the “Old Testament” Bible as a religious book valued by Jews, Christians and Muslims with little of global historical value except to members of those groups. But the earliest Bible stories actually record the time in global history that existed before religion. It begins in a time before there were Jews, Christians, Muslims or any other religious believers.
Understanding the lost history underlying the Bible’s earliest stories are tales of the beginnings of war, slavery, religion and law and how those inventions changed the world.
For the real story of Genesis is about how people from an ancient Indo-European culture – the Hebrews – came to the Middle East from India after the fall of a great civilization there 4,300 years ago.
Ancient Hebrew Torah, oldest part of the “Old Testament” Bible
The Greek philosopher Plato once remarked that when civilizations fall and people are dispersed to new lands, the survivors try to remember what life was like before the calamity and they tell their stories to the young people born after the event.
Underneath the religious coating, are the Bible’s early tales put together fragments of forgotten but very real world events? Are the calamities of Eden (the end of a unified world), Noah’s flood (the division of the world into East and West), and the Tower of Babel (the change in global culture from working together to war), embellished memories of great upheavals in human history?
Can those stories be connected to the decline and fall of a real civilization far from the Middle East that existed at least 5,000 to 6,000 years ago – long before Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia or China?
And if so, was that ancient center the homeland of the Ancient Hebrew people of the Bible?
Another Greek philosopher says the answer to those questions is “Yes.”
Aristotle (322-384 BC)
Seven years ago, I came across an obscure quote from Aristotle who said, “The Jewish people are descended from the Brahman priests of Ancient India.”
I was fascinated by this because I am Jewish and when I was a young man, I spent three years living as a Hare Krishna monk studying the ancient texts and language of India and was initiated as a Brahman.
Later in life, I worked as an independent journalist. During my 25 year career as a freelance Canada News Chief and Correspondent, I worked for more than 100 new organizations including The Washington Times, New York Times, ABCNews.com, MSNBC.com and the Associated Press. In all, I wrote more than 3,000 stories and was once nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Like a detective on a case I decided to put my investigative skills to work and find out if Aristotle was right. Over the next seven years, what I would learn would change the way I understood my own history, the history of the Bible and the history of the world.
The first place I went to check out Aristotle’s story was the Bible. If there was any truth to Aristotle’s claim there would have to be clear and unambiguous evidence in the text of the Bible.
And there it was in the opening pages.
According to Jewish tradition, Year 1 of the nearly 6,000 year old Jewish calendar marks the time when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. I wasn’t concerned whether there were once two people and a talking snake – those are matters for belief not investigation. If there was history in that first story what I wanted to know was, “Where was Eden?”
Here’s what the Bible says. “A river watering the garden flowed from Eden, and from there it divided: it had four headstreams. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah where there is gold.” (Gen. 2:10-11).
So the Garden of Eden – the starting point for the entire Biblical narrative – was in a land called “Havilah.” Where was Havilah?
According to the 12-volume, 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, the most ancient traditions that date back to Josephus – the Jewish historian of Ancient Rome, and followed by most of the Church Fathers, “makes Havilah equivalent to India, and the Pishon one of its rivers.”
In other words, Eden was in India. Further, the Pishon is described as the river farthest to the east. That would make the Pishon the river system that includes the Ganges, Yamuna and the now vanished Saraswati rivers.
Of India’s major rivers, the one farthest east is the Ganges or Ganga which is also the region of the oldest histories of India.
Map of the major rivers of India
Although the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament is written as one long, historical narrative, its histories follow four related but different groups of people.
The four groups are: the Righteous Ones (Adam to Noah), the Hebrew people (Abraham to Joseph son of Jacob), the Israelites (Moses to the downfall of the ancient kingdoms) and finally the Jewish people who emerge from the old histories after the exile of the people from Israel.
If we sift the text of the Bible for the unified history of the first two groups – the Righteous Ones and the Hebrews, here’s what the Bible relates.
The story of these people begins about 3600 BC in Ancient India. Both groups remain in this region but not necessarily in the same part. Around 2600-2200 BC, a great flood causes a devastating calamity somewhere in Ancient India and this flood destroys the center of a unified, old world. Afterwards, survivors of the calamity who kept to the old way migrate west to Mesopotamia where some are called the “Hebrews,” a word that means “wanderers from the East.”
In popular culture, the concept of “Eden” is often presented as an unrealistic or robotic world. But the heart of the Eden story is a reminder of a time in human history very different from our modern world.
This was a time when the early people of the world created a common language, built cities, schools and long-distance trade routes by sharing what they knew and uniting around what they had in common. As a result, this it was also a time before wars of conquest, slavery, private property or religion divided people. For those human inventions are only about 4,500 years old.
Do archaeology, genetics, linguistics and other sources support this view?
Map shows the Indian origins of prehistoric trade in coconuts based on coconut DNA
About 50,000 years ago, two large waves of people left Africa. One group traveled north along Africa’s western coast and into Europe. Where did the other go?
Map shows the shoreline of Southeast Asia 19,000 years ago when people could almost walk from India to Australia.
In 2009, a team of scientists from 10 Asian countries released a study showing 40-50,000 years ago, a large wave of people left Africa and settled in South India. From there, the same genetic trail leads farther East to include the peoples of China, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan. Australian aboriginals are also genetic descendants of people from India.
The majority of the world’s languages have a multicultural source that includes India. There are more than 400 Indo-European languages and dialects spoken by 3 billion people.
Another group of scientists from China found a 100,000 year old, prehistoric human jaw there with features similar to the large-jawed human ancestor known as Denisovan. Other research suggests our primate ancestors may have migrated to Africa from Asia. Some scientists believe this means there was more than one source of human development – those who came out of Africa and those who developed separately in Eastern Asia including the jut-jawed Denisovans.
The Sino-Tibetan language family includes more than 400 languages, and is second only to the Indo-Eurppean family in terms of the number of modern day speakers.
This secondary human development in Asia as well as Africa from the same intelligent primate ancestors may explain the later language links between the people of the Far East and their linguistic cousins the “Indo-Chinese” languages of Southeast Asia and North India.
As early humans spread out, so did the Denisovans and other groups in a “Lord of the Rings” world of many types of humans who left their genetic traces in all modern humans whose ancestry is outside of the African population that remained in Africa.
The languages spoken by most other people in the world also have Indian roots and are called Afro-Asiatic and Austronesian languages. These multicultural languages were influenced and spread by settlers who traveled to these regions from India.
So, are these 3 great swathes of humanity’s oldest stories – the Prehistoric World, Ancient India and the Bible – all connected? Taken together do these periods tells a common story of the rise and fall of the ancient world?
The spread of Austronesian languages began 50,000 years ago.
Here are some opinions.
“The research of Barry Brown – in light of literary evidence and genetic studies hypothesizing that Jews migrated to Mesopotamia from the Indus Valley during its downfall - might be of great importance in structuring Jewish history,” Dept. of Ancient Indian History Culture & Archaeology, Hindu University Banaras India.
“Our study of the Jewish population of India revealed that their maternal and paternal gene pool is linked with the people of West- Eurasia. The literary evidence strongly supports this hypothesis.
“According to Stephen Knopp, the Greeks referred to the Jews as Judeos or “Jah-deos” or Yadavas, meaning people of Ya or descendants of Yadhu, one of the sons of Yayati. It is also said that the basis of the Kabbalah, the book of Jewish mystical concepts, described in “The Holy Kabbalah” by Arthur Edward White, is linked with the Vedas. The word Yadava is derived from the term “Yah Deva.” This term is identical to the name Yahweh, the single most important name of God of the Jews,” Dr. Lalji Singh, Vice-Chancellor Hindu University, Banaras India, Leader of India’s genome project.
“I don’t know if you are right – you might be – but you will change history if you are,” Yaen Vered, Canadian Representative, Israeli Antiquities Authority.
Were two great, multicultural, multiracial and spiritually-based trading empires of Ancient India – one by the Ganges River in the east and the other near the Indus in the west – the physical locations and the inspirational source of Bible’s stories of Eden and Noah?
All over Israel, in the ruins of 2,000 year old synagogues there is a design that startles the eye: Indian swastikas.
Most people associate the swastika with Adolph Hitler and the Nazi death camps where millions of Jews were murdered. But before that corruption, this ancient symbol of good fortune was used by an Indo-European people that left those markings at prehistoric sites all over the world.
So how did this prehistoric, Indo-European sign for God’s blessing end up in Israelite temples in the Middle East that date back to the days when Jesus was alive?
One thing is certain. There is no way the ancient Israelite priests would let any symbol or image into their “house of God” unless it was well-known, well-sanctioned and had a well-established, long connection to their own history and the God of their ancestors.
In the Bible, little is said about the Hebrew people. The text gives no explanation why the early people of the Bible are not called Hebrews until Abraham. Nothing tells us where the ancestors of these people came from. Most puzzling of all, the Bible never explains why some followers of the Hebrew tradition separated and reformed as Israelites in the years before the Exodus from Ancient Egypt about 1300 BC.
Yet, if we follow this trail of the Indo-European people who left Ancient India to become the Hebrews of Mesopotamia, the Hyksos of Ancient Egypt and other Indo-European people of the Ancient Middle East, a story begins to emerge that speaks to us from a long lost world.
Far from being simple fables or exaggerations, the stories of Eden, the flood, Tower of Babel and Exodus reveal a fascinating and very real time in human history.
It takes us from the very beginnings of human culture, art and language through the first urban civilizations, global trade and the times of Eden, and finally the fracturing of the world first into East and West and then into the many religions and identities of today.