Ancient Anatolia: Cradle of Civilization?
As humans, we’ve progressed from living in primitive dwellings to villages, then full-scale civilizations. This shift has been gradual but certainly significant.
How exactly did the concept of civilization come about? Unlike simple villages, civilizations are much more structurally and socially advanced. Let’s dive deeper into what makes up a civilization and where the first civilization originated.
What is a civilization?
A civilization is the most advanced stage of human development and societal organization. While experts debate the primary characteristics of a civilization, the main attributes include:
- Cities or “urban settlements”
- Social classes
- Agriculture and animal husbandry
- Trade and production
- Public buildings
- Written language
- Technology/scientific development
- Monumental architecture
It’s important to keep in mind not all of these attributes are necessary for a society to be characterized as a civilization. For example, the Incas did not have a written language, yet they were a highly advanced civilization. Therefore, it may be better to think of these attributes as guidelines for measuring the advancement of a civilization.
Where did civilizations come from?
The term “cradle of civilization” is synonymous for “birthplace of civilization.” In other words, it’s a place where civilization began.
However, there is one particular region that’s widely accepted as the original — and perhaps the sole — cradle of civilization: Anatolia, which is located in modern day Turkey.
Anatolia: Cradle of Civilization?
Although it is difficult to pinpoint a singular cradle of civilization, there is some evidence to suggest that Anatolia may have been the birthplace of civilization as we know it today.
First and foremost, scientific findings suggest Anatolia played a huge role in agricultural development and may have acted as a “hub” for spreading farming techniques westward into Europe.
Secondly, scientists have traced the origins of ancient grains — specifically, einkorn wheat — to Anatolia. This is particularly significant because of the “technical complexity and the culinary manipulation” that are necessary to turn these grains into staples. Therefore, the ability to produce cereals signifies a highly advanced society.
Anatolia’s proximity to Europe likely helped facilitate the spread of agriculture to westerners, but how did the people of Anatolia become so advanced in the first place?
The Advancements of Anatolia
Anatolia was a hub for advanced civilizations including the Hittites, the Assyrians, and the Greeks, but before the rise of these civilizations, there was Gobekli Tepe.
Gobekli Tepe is an ancient site that has been called “The World’s First Temple.” It features technology and architecture that were highly advanced for the times, considering it was built some 11,000 years ago.
Research suggests outsiders may have influenced and inspired the construction of Gobekli Tepe through what is known as a “transfer of technology.” Ancient civilization researcher Graham Hancock has explored this idea in-depth, arguing a third party taught advanced skills to the native humans of the area.
Some believe the Annunaki bestowed their knowledge upon the Anatolia region. This group of deities is frequently referenced in ancient texts, in which they are praised for their sophisticated scientific and mathematical abilities.
Did the concepts of farming and agriculture also come from the Annunaki? If this is indeed the case, it means we can credit these mystical beings for skills and techniques we still rely on today. Moreover, it means that the Annunaki played an enormous role in the foundation of civilization itself.
There is certainly plenty of information to absorb with regard to how civilizations came to be. Based on what we know about Anatolia and the Annunaki, we can assume both may have played a big role in the foundation and evolution of civilization. As with any complex topic, we encourage you to continue to explore this subject on your own.
Want more like this article?
Don’t miss Ancient Civilizations on Gaia to journey through humanity’s suppressed origins and examine the secret code left behind by our ancestors.
Olmec Colossal Heads: What Are They?
Many ancient civilizations left behind intrigue even archaeologists still puzzle over today. In South America alone, we see cases of anomalous disappearances and unexplained history such as the Incas’ abandoned citadel, Machu Picchu, and the mysterious Mayans’ disappearance, which continue providing fodder for questions about what really happened to these societies.
When it comes to the Olmec people, one giant factor continues to be debated: their colossal heads.
Not of the people themselves, but the 8-ton sculptures of heads they buried underground. The Olmec heads have become yet another famous and mysterious element of ancient cultures we just haven’t solved yet.
Olmec People and Civilization
The Olmec people lived in Southeastern Mexico between 1,500 and 400 B.C., in the lowlands of what is today Tabasco and Veracruz. They are credited with being the first civilization to develop in Mesoamerica, with the Olmec heartland being one of the six cradles of civilization.
Olmecs were the first inhabitants of the Americas to settle in towns and cities with monumental architecture. Evidence has also been found for Olmec hieroglyphs around 650 B.C., as well as scripts on roller stamps and stone artifacts. The fine Olmec artwork survived in several ways, including figurines, sculptures, and of course, the colossal heads.
While the Olmecs seem to have been well-established tradesmen with routes, the civilization vanished around 300 B.C. , although its influence is obvious in the Mayan and Aztec civilizations that followed.
Olmec Colossal Heads
The Olmec colossal heads are aptly named — of the 17 uncovered in the region, the average weight is around 8 tons, standing three meters tall and four and a half meters circumference. Perhaps more than any other aspect of the Olmec heads, their size is cause for a great deal of analysis and speculation.
The heads were carved from a single basalt boulder retrieved from Cerro Cintepec in the Tuxtla Mountains. After their creation, the heads were then transported 100 kilometers to their final destination where they were buried. Most of the heads are wearing a protective helmet, which was worn by the Olmec during battle and the Mesoamerican ballgame, and it is likely they were originally painted with bright colors.
While the heads have been dated to either the Early Preclassic period (1500–1000 BC) and the Middle Preclassic (1000–400 BC) period, it is difficult to say for sure, given that many were removed from their prior contexts before archaeological excavation.