Mythic Wealth and Incoherent History
by Tim Case
by Tim Case
"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation"
~ Herbert Spencer (1820—1903)
Just who is it that determines whether ancient information is to be considered as "valid" history or relegated to the files of myth? Isn't this determination left almost solely in the hands of government-funded, propaganda-generating "established experts" who haunt the halls of academia and ooze from the pores of the anthropological, religious and "scientific" establishment?
Isn't it these who are always careful to follow the party line so that they won't be chastised and lose their place on the public money teat? So they practice fraud by hiding or ignoring ancient written records, oral traditions, and surviving artifacts. Thus never allowing these to supersede their doctrinaire system of explaining and dating the ancient world through inane periods called "stone age," "bronze age" and "iron age" all the while fondling and fawning over ancient pieces of broken pottery.
The reasonable mind should ask some pertinent questions. At any point in time was there only one manufacturer of pottery in the ancient world, within a given geographic area, city state, tribal location, or family unit?
Was collectivism so rampant that there was no divergence in style, thickness, glazing techniques or decoration of pottery in any one/month/year/age due to the individualism of the producer or buyer? Was there no "copying" of a popular style from an originating culture within divergent cultures?
Was the general public of the ancient world so wealthy that they too could purchase the pottery of the elite, ruling class, or priesthood? Were special prized pieces of pottery handed down through family units, tribes, or other social units as heirlooms accounting for the movement of these artifacts through time? Could pottery have been an emblem or badge of authority or right of leadership?
What effect did regional economies, migration, wars, social unrest, droughts, extended cold, availability of raw material and trade restrictions have on the pottery in any given area or any given month/year?
The hubris of the "established experts" boggles the mind. Even when faced with a megalithic structure, like the Great Pyramid of Giza, these elites want us to believe that this edifice to man's ingenuity was accomplished with stone tools, and without the use of the wheel.
That the ancient Egyptians had advanced mathematics can be seen in the very word "pyramid" which is reported to literally mean "measure of light." I doubt there is a coincidence in the fact that "the vertical height of the Great Pyramid, when the structure was intact, was 483 grid feet, which is the square of the reciprocal of the angular velocity of light." Nor should we assume that random chance resulted in pi (π) being the quotient of twice the length of one side, divided by the vertical height of the Great Pyramid; which again was 483 feet.
Should we really believe that a nation like Egypt which prior to 1700 BC and as early as 2600 BC had advanced knowledge concerning the relationship between the human nervous system and limb paralysis wasn't capable of constructing durable tools or a wheel?
Are we really so malleable as to perpetuate such an illogical state of mental vacuity for the sake of appeasement? It certainly seems that the greatest part of society prefers "going along to get along" over reasoned thought or questioning the "experts."
Perhaps we should rejoice that these same priestly experts aren't still pronouncing that there will be no further debate: the earth is flat and is the center of the universe. Both ideas were rejected by many ancient civilizations in their maps and records, long before Nicolas Copernicus was "foolish" enough to publish his "heretical" De revolutionibus orbium coelestium declaring the sun, not the earth was the center of our planetary system.
After my last article I had a gentleman write to me asking if the "civilized" world would suffer another dark age. In this enlightened age of supercilious edicts and Pavlovian obedience are we really that far removed from the dark age of the 15th century? How can we possibly learn from history when pertinent, useful, instructive historical facts are unscrupulously and systematically stolen, hidden from us, or cast aside as myth?
One case will suffice to make the point.
A couple of years ago I wrote concerning the archeological find of the 20th century at Tell Mardikh and the ancient city of Ebla.
What made the finding of this ancient city remarkable was the retrieval of Ebla's archives, in 1975, which dated to the 3rd millennium BC. The ancient library of records was found practically undamaged and in the order in which documents had once been stored. The now collapsed shelving revealed more than 17,000 clay cuneiform tablets and fragments, offering an unmatched source of information regarding Ebla's economy; along with the peoples these ancient Syrian's traded amongst, lived in proximity to and shared histories with.
It has now been over 30 years since the library at Ebla was discovered and yet little real or relevant information has been published. The reason for this suppression of information is due almost exclusively to political, religious, cultural and scientific canon that would be called into question if it were published.
This is a crime paramount to the loss of the Library at Alexandria regardless of whether the latter is ascribed to Julius Caesar's invasion in 48 BC; the attack of the Roman emperor Aurelian in the 3rd century AD; or the Muslim conquest in 642 AD.
However, occasionally there are essentials of everyday life in the ancient world, which break through the mist giving us a more accurate picture.
One such group of records comes to us from the ancient Babylonian astronomers and is called the Astronomical diaries. While these ancient records deal with a host of daily information concerning the movement of the planets, the rising and setting of the moon, weather, and the level of the all important Euphrates River to name a few; they also contain the prices of six commodities that had a direct effect on the everyday life of the people of Babylon: barley, dates, "mustard?", "cress?" sesame and wool.
The records go as far back as 651 BC. However, information is spotty until we reach 385 BC. It is from 385 BC until 61 BC that the information concerning the prices of barley, dates, "mustard?", "cress?" sesame and wool are more or less complete.
We will be looking at a snapshot of these records through the lives of the elders of a small town which has been lost to history, but that may well have existed just a few miles south of Babylon on the Euphrates river.
We will hear men speaking of prices but we need to remember they lived in a barter system and as such money (in this case a silver shekel) was always the constant while the quantity of what was to be purchased was always variable. This enabled the seller to account for the "exchange rate" of the shekel due to varying amounts of silver contained in different nation's shekel.
We view "a deal" as purchasing one item for less money. Thus if a pack of gum costs $1.00 but we can purchase that pack of gum for $.50 we received "a deal"
Notice what we wish to purchase remains constant — one pack of gum; while the amount of money (coinage) we paid was variable — $1.00 vs. $.50.
This is not how the ancients saw the problem. They knew they were going to part with $1.00. The question was how many packs of gum they could get for their $1.00. Thus, they received "a deal" when they walked away with two packs of gum, instead of one, for their $1.00.
The reason for this is because at this time in Babylonian history there was no denomination in the coinage smaller than a shekel. The quantity, weight or the volume of what was being purchased had to be adjusted to equal the value of one silver shekel. Just think of it this way, the ancient buyers were always looking to get as much as they could for their shekel. The opposite is true of ancient sellers they wanted to give up as little as they could for the same shekel.
So, if you will come with me to just outside the ancient city of Babylon we will take just a little literary license and eavesdrop on a gathering of village men; some who raise barley and sesame, others who have date orchards, while still others are shepherds. Then hopefully we will all have some insight into history that would never be found in the "official" history books.
The date is February 10, 300 BC and the day is coming to a close. The evening is cool enough to wear a light coat but there is a hint that as the evening progresses the night air will bring a chill. All agree that with the clear evening sky and no moon a large fire would be in order to keep the elders and everyone else more comfortable.
Someone notices and remarks that the planet Uranus (the emasculated one) is high in the western sky and another replied that he hoped this was a sign that the elders would have good news. Still another observes with more than a little hesitation that the planet Uranus was in the Lion (Leo) and Marduk (the planet Jupiter) was not visible. This brought a collective groan to all that were gathered preparing the fire for the elders.
Regardless, there is still an air of excitement. The village elders had made the trip to the city of Babylon for the express purpose of learning what the current market prices were for the products that the village produced. However and just as importantly they also would know what the exchange rates would be for the items the villagers would need and so all were anxious for the elders' knowledge upon their arrival at the village meeting.
As the crowd grows, side tables begin to fill with liters of sweet date beer (the wine of the Romans and Greeks). These are placed next to liters of barley beer which are scattered among platters brimming with sweet date cakes, dried dates and bread cooked in sesame oil. After all, this is an occasion of some importance and the communal life demanded the sharing of refreshments.
The whole village has now gathered and there can be heard the din of greetings, and idle chatter which suddenly subsides as the elders move through the gathering, greeting friends and relatives on their trek to the now warm glowing fire.
As the elders take their seats one remains standing and addresses the young people present.
"We are a rich and ancient people," he begins "but we must never forget that it was not that long ago we allowed rulers to anger the gods. There was a time when Babylon (555 BC) came under the control of an evil king. His name was Nabonidus and his loyalty was not to us and our ancient traditions but to himself and a strange god called ‘sin.'"
"King Nabonidus angered the great god Marduk when he left his throne in the hands of his son Belshazzar. Both these kings treated our priests with disrespect and our fathers lived in misery."
The elder fell silent for a moment while a murmur of agreement rustled through the gathering as they remembered this lesson so often taught by their elders.
"But the god Marduk…;" the elder's voice trailed off as he waited for the crowd to again be silent enough for all to hear. "But the great god Marduk had not forgotten our fathers and he sent them the great and noble king Cyrus from Persia to save them. Our fathers welcomed King Cyrus, they did not fight him (Babylon fell to Cyrus 539 BC) and because of that our fathers had justice, peace, and prosperity for many years."
The crowd now enthused by what the elder has said politely but vigorously acknowledges him as he sits down.
Immediately the next elder stands up. In his hands he holds a series of cruciform tablets which contain the village records concerning the historical price of barley.
This is the first of three moments the villagers have been waiting for and they know it will be repeated in exactly the same fashion each time.
An almost tangible hush falls over the people present; no one drinks, or takes another bite of the sweet bread they are holding. Even the children sense the importance of the moment and sit quietly all eyes focused on the elder.
This elder, a man in his mid-fifties, begins to speak with some authority but in a fatherly tone; a tone one would use while giving instruction to a child learning a difficult task.
"My family," he commences, "I remember well the times I watched my father stand here and heard him give this report. We all know that he, like all of us, recognized that there are always two sides to the price of barley." A collective but respective "hmmm" of acknowledgement passes through the crowd.
"We must always remember that when we had to give little of our barley we prospered more than most, but when we had to give much we helped those who had little, to buy food and other necessities of life." Again the group expresses approval.
"We remember then those years when we lived well which are recorded here," the elder's voice is emphatic as he raises the tablet above his head.
"My grandfather's life was almost over (385 BC to 381 BC) when this village saw great profits because we only gave 27 to 44 (liters of barley per shekel). During my father's life this village did not profit as greatly but we did well."
(From 381 BC to 335 BC the records [although incomplete] show the average price of barley fell by almost 50% to just over 72 liters per shekel. The highest price was in 372 BC at 24 liters per shekel but in March of 446 BC it had sunk to an astounding 120 liters per shekel. But let's return to the group for the elder is still speaking.)
"It was during the time when the gods of Macedonia warred with the gods of the world and the great king Alexander celebrated the New Year's Festival in honor of our god Marduk that we suffered greatly, but we survived."
(It is strange that during Alexander's campaigns against the Persian Empire that barley was more than plentiful. Starting in late September 333 BC the price had fallen to 138 liters per shekel and by November 17, 330 BC, after Alexander had been crowned "King of Babylon, King of Asia, King of the Four Quarters of the World," the price had fallen even further to 150 liters per shekel.)
"We all remember when King Alexander died," the elder concluded…
(Alexander the Great moved to Babylon in the spring of 323 BC and died in Babylon June 2nd of that year. It is interesting to note that between May 12th of 325 BC and June 2nd of 323 BC barley prices were constantly fluctuating between a high of 26 and a low of 46 liters per shekel. However, on June 23, 323 BC just 21 days after Alexander's death they plummeted to 60 liters per shekel before recovering in the middle of July at 30 liters per shekel.)
"…but do we remember those days when our harvests brought us great wealth?"
(After the death of Alexander the barley prices continued up until January of 322 BC when they reached a high of 12 liters per shekel and remained constant until another high of 7.50 liters per shekel in April of 309 BC.)
"Now my friends we have seen good times and bad times and we have survived so do not fear today's barley is 56 liters (per shekel)."
No one said a word and now in rapid succession each remaining elder stood and gave the price of their commodity.
"Dates — 60 liters" (per shekel)
"Wool — 2.33 lbs" (per shekel)
"Sesame — 18 liters" (per shekel)
All the prices were low. Lower than most had seen in years. The bad news had been given, now it was time to enjoy friends and family so all retired to the refreshment tables where soon the din of lively conversations and laughter filled the evening air.
Was this what occurred among villages in ancient Babylonia? Probably not. Could it have occurred this way? Yes.
That however, is not the point. The point is these ancient people were not concerned so much with the "price" of their commodity but were more concerned with where the starting point was and what the exchange rate was.
They knew each family needed a standard monthly ration of barley that amounted to 60 liters for an adult male, 30 liters for each adult woman and 10 to 25 liters for each child depending on their age.
You see their money was REAL: it had inherent value. They could eat it, wear it, or trade it for other needed goods or services. As long as they had enough for their family, everything else could be "spent," they just needed to know where to begin the bartering process. Thus the shekel became nothing more than the standard, an example of worth not the absolute value of a product.
They now knew that 56 liters of barley had the same TRADING value as 60 liters of dates, 18 liters of sesame seeds, and 2 1/3 lbs of wool.
History is far too often confined to investigating some goofy ruler, the tactics of a military genius, or how many people were slaughtered in some particular war. History, however, is the story of civilization and its survival of all those insane rulers, wars, and empires. It is the story of human endurance, people who survived because they understood the use of items of exchange, which still have real value.
Will the "civilized" world of today suffer another dark age? How can it not when so many are marching to their doom, enamored with the "modern progressive" myths of civilization and wealth, while being force-fed incoherent history?
It is prideful arrogance that places modern man at the pinnacle of information and achievement while pretending that everything that has gone before somehow is of lesser value. They had the tools for survival, can we say the same?
February 19, 2008
Tim Case [send him mail] is a 30-year student of the ancient histories who agrees with the first-century stoic Epictetus on this one point: “Only the educated are free.”
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