Re: Alex's gibbon-like CA

16 Nov 1995 04:02:10 GMT

Paul Crowley ( sez:


`What are the best conditions for an expanding population which
`would be interested in exploiting adjacent territory? One that
`will produce a generation of young, healthy, well-equiped warriors,
`ready to pillage and loot? Why, a nice warm interglacial!

`What are the worst conditions to have before such a campaign?
`Why, a series of hard winters that leaves everyone sick and feeble,
`with food stocks low and death rates high.

`Which does he pick? - the worst one. Why does he do this? Well
`he needs peer-approval and if he said they moved south during a
`warm inter-glacial, there'd be eyebrows raised. He be told he must
`have made a typo. His editor might change it without asking. After
`all, the discipline has its traditions to keep up.

`He would not say that climate probably had little to do with it.
`That's more than likely correct, but that's an even greater heresy.
`You've seen the reaction here to my suggestion. Over the 1000's of
`years the change would be gradual. Such invasions and conquests
`depend much more on the social organization, the characters of
`individual leaders, the weapons technology. How much talk do we
`have about the influence of climatic change on historical times?
`Was Genghis Khan and driven by cold or warm spells? Did the
`USSR collapse because of the weather? (It's a great mistake to
`think that pre-historical societies were very different from the
`ones that we do know.)

These are interesting ideas, but I think you have little
justification for thinking of the behaviour of folx 70kya
in terms of nomadic hordes from historical times.
Much of the social structure, technology, and motivation
of historic nomads may be of recent development. It would
probably be more sensible to think of randomly ambling small
groups of hunter gatherers, with no more social coherence than
extended family groups. The real question is what did the
originator of the theory have in mind, and was the news report
in his words, or was it a rewording by the journalist.

(Are pre literate hunter gatherers far sighted enough to observe
changes in climate and move in response to them? Probably not.
The only examples I can think of where nomads at any time moved
in response to changing climate, they were marine travellers, who
were used to moving fairly large distances, like the inuit (and
norse, though they were too advanced to consider here) who
abandoned the northern most regions of their traditional range
with the onset of the little ice age. )

This doesn't preclude the possibility of climate having an
effect on the distribution of a population, and advancing
glaciers are a good way to herd meandering h-g's in a uniform

========================================================================== <== faster % Pete Vincent % Disclaimer: all I know I
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