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By admin on Fri 26 of June, 2009 13:20 MDT

why did agricultural civilization evolve after this last Ice Age instead of another one?

Last night I attended a seminar on Ice Ages (a "science for the masses" social event in my community). It discussed the various astronomical cycles which generate Ice Ages, the effects of the weight of the ice on various land masses, etc. For this thread the pertinent facts are that the last Ice Age ended about 10,000-8,000 years ago and we are currently in a warmer period which will last thousands of more years. There have been similar warm inter-glacial periods like this before.

Reading archeology articles over the past couple years I've learned that "civilization" in South America started independently from "civilization" in Mesopotamia and at about the same time. By civilization I mean that the concepts of agriculture and farming, permanent settlements with buildings and that sort of thing.

My thoughts:
How remarkable that civilization should start simultaneously in two separate places! To me it suggests that there's something within the human psyche that generates a structured society if you have decent weather for 100 generations. If, for example, we had an Ice Age tomorrow and civilization somehow broke down and disappeared, it would inevitably come back after 100 non-ice generations because that's what our species does. It's natural in the same way that a bird's building a nest is natural. Since humans can learn from the previous generation we can have generational nesting instincts that extend over time.

Another example of what I'm trying to say would be, if you took a few feral children (basically hunter-gatherers) and put them together on an earth-like planet, there would inevitably be a civilization on that planet 100 generations later.

This theory (that creating civilizations is natural for us) seems logical in light of the data. I mean... agriculture starting in two totally unrelated places at once? How can that be coincidence? But one huge problem with the theory is that there have been other extended inter-glacial periods between previous ice ages since the evolution of homo sapiens and from what I know there is no evidence that civilization evolved during those 100 generation warm phases?

So getting down to my questions:
Is there any archeological evidence that civilizations evolved between previous ice ages and was later obliterated by ice?
Could human artifacts survive an Ice Age?
If civilization didn't evolve before, why did it evolve simultaneously in two different places this time around?