Re: Help Required: History of ancient tribes. universal history

Paul Smith (
Fri, 19 Jul 1996 20:03:16 GMT

John Mathew wrote:
> I am looking for modern sources for:
> (a) Universal History: In the tradition of Spengler, Toynbee and
> Quigley. Quigley's of Evolution of Civilizations (1961) is the latest
> one that I am aware of. I would appreciate if someone would direct me
> towards a more recent and more complete source for such a unified
> analysis of history.

1. At first I was going to say that €Universal Histories€ a la Spengler
had gone out of fashion because of their association with totalitarianism
(especially the misuse of Hegel€s philosophy by the Nazis), with esoteric
cults such as Theosophy and with the diffusionist trend in archaeology,
which has yet to recover from the damage done by calibrated C-14 dating
to its €ex orientalis lux€ chronology for Near-Eastern / European
civilisations. But then I remembered that futurology, in which a
simplified interpretation of the past is projected into the future, still
sells a lot of books, mainly in the USA. Universal histories are a
facinating part of modern cultural history, especially from around the
turn of the last century, but, since they don€t really belong here, I€ll
e-mail you about them when I get back from La Palma.

> (b) History of Ancient Tribes/Races: I am also looking for a book
> that deals with the prehistory of the ancient tribes/races of homo
> sapiens sapeins, including their origins and their migrations. I am
> highly dissatisfied with the only book that I have found (Races of
> Mankind by Calvin Kephart, 1960) I am looking for something more
> recent.

2. Excellent summer reading on this subject is Clive Gamble€s book
€Timewalkers - The Prehistory of Global Colonisation€ (Penguin ISBN
0-14-012511-6). Gamble, incidentally, wisely dismisses the concept of
race. This is an interesting subject because to have €tribal / race
histories€ of any length you first need to espouse some theory of
muliregional evolution for H. sapiens sapiens. The predominant theory at
the moment, however - the €Out of Africa€ hypothesis - posits a fairly
recent origin for our subspecies - 100 000 to 200 000 BP - and an even
more recent date for the start of most racial differentiation, perhaps as
recently as the start of the upper paleolithic in Europe.

The opposing theory of Multiregional Evolution espoused by Milford
Wolpoff and others claims that modern humans evolved over perhaps 1
million years in seperate lineages in different parts of the world from
an original dispersal of H. erectus. He explains the fact that we have
nevertheless remained a single biological species (different races can
interbreed to produce fertile offspring) througout this time by allowing
for enough gene flow (interbreeding between adjacent populations) to keep
the species€ gene pool together and, presumably, enough cultural
exchange to prevent cultural differences from blocking the gene flow.
(This might be important. There have always been prejudices aginst
€mixed€ marriages, certainly here in Holland where an old saying goes:
€Two religions on one pillow - the Devil sleeps in between!€)

The multiregional theory is a bit out of fashion at the moment, mainly
because the molecular evidence from mDNA for female lineages and
Y-chromosome DNA for male lineages does not allow enough time depth and
because the extreme genetic polymorphism of humans generally tends to
undermine the reality of races. If you want to find out more about this
perhaps you could start another Wolpoff / Neanderthal thread on

Another way would be to find a library with back issues of the Scientific
American. Volume 266 number 4 has articles summarising the evidence for
both theories. The genetecist Christopher Wills has come to the rescue of
Wolpoff by writing the very readable €The Runaway Brain,€ (Published by
Flamingo, ISBN 0-00-654672-2) which gives alternative explanations for
the molecular evidence and, like Timewalkers, has exhaustive references
and a good index.


Paul Smith, Nijmegen.

> This posting is a modified version of the one I sent a couple of days
> ago. Any help would be highly appreciated.
> Thank you.
> Please post your reply to this newsgroup and/or
> email it to

Paul Smith & Bea Hemmen, De Gildekamp 21-47, 6545KE,
Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Tel: 024-3782438, E-mail:
"God save us from our naughtiness" 16th C. English Prayer