It's All in my Head
Times are hectic here at the Calico Ranch! Cassi has come into her own at her (not so) new job, and the rest of us have adjusted to Mom being back at work. In 4 months or so, Brian graduates from Ellensburg High, and Michael graduates from K-12 online...and I graduate from Central Washington University. My favorite professor (not for how he teaches or what he teaches, but for how hard and far he pushes me) once said, "Undergraduate studies start easy and finish hard, and graduate studies start hard and finish easy." He's been prophetic so far. Lately, it seems...I've got no time, and more time than money. Something else too...that feeling of just being a little "off" all the time...I recognize it as anxiety, the kind that keeps you keyed up and lying awake all night sweating...I seem to sweat a lot these days...and frankly, some of these 21-22 year old kids around me are deeper in the pressure cooker than I am, and impressively handling it with as much or more grace. My respect has been earned by a lot of these young people. I understand now that whole "friends from college" bond. Maybe for some it's a "Greek" thing, or a party thing, but for the Anthropology seniors at Central Washington University...it's a bond more akin to warriors who have fought and bled together...and been forever transformed by the experience. I'm proud to be in the ranks of the Class of 2014, and I truly believe that some of these people are going to change the way we all live and think for the better someday.
Today, I hit the wall...a bit. The details aren't important. A person won't die from lack of sleep; a person will just fall asleep. I had to lead the Archaeology Theory class discussion today for about 35 minutes...somewhere at about minute 10 my blood sugar crashed, and I felt like I was outside my body watching a babbling person for the next 25. Apparently, I did pretty well...for someone who didn't let anyone else in on the "discussion." I don't much remember the 10 block stagger home...and I sure don't remember the six hour nap I just woke up from. I've got an exam in Statistics on Friday morning... but I think I'm going to skip the studying tonight. So, let's talk about some stuff that's going on instead.
The Northwest Anthropological Conference is coming up and I'm excited to be part of two exhibits. I'll be doing a four-hour Poster presentation (standing next to my poster for 4 hours answering questions from interested attendees) on the topic above...a personal project of my own. Additionally, I am the second author (thanks to the generosity of the first author, master's candidate Patrick Lewis, and our faculty mentor Dr. Patrick McCutcheon) on a paper surrounding our research in lithic technology and site function at the Sunrise Borrow Pit Site on Mt. Rainier. Patrick will be presenting the paper and results of our research in a 15 minute talk at the conference.
Brian and I attended this event last week!! Dr. Lorenz did an excellent job, and anything done in connection with the Museum of Culture and Environment, and director Dr. Mark Auslander is always a consummately professional affair. Brian had a chance to chat extensively with Dr. Auslander; a former director for the Smithsonian Institution. That was worth the entire trip! Watching my 18 year old son introduce himself to the event organizer, and hold his own in an intelligent dialogue in such an adult setting....priceless. The moments of your life that matter most are almost never what you thought they would be...
I can't turn back time, but I found and reviewed a talk which is very similar, presents the same information, and I think everyone would find enjoyable: interested folks can watch it here. I'm posting the video because watching it caused me to ... connect some dots.
From the wikster: Mount Carmel (Hebrew: הַר הַכַּרְמֶל, Har HaKarmel ISO 259-3 Har ha Karmell (lit. God's vineyard); Greek: Κάρμηλος, Kármēlos; Arabic: الكرمل, Kurmul or جبل مار إلياس Jabal Mar Elyas 'Mount Saint Elias') is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea towards the southeast. The range is a UNESCO biosphere reserve and a number of towns are located there, most notably the city of Haifa, Israel's third largest city, located on the northern slope.
Quoting University of Wisconsin biological anthropologist John Hawks:
"Of the Mt. Carmel Caves, this is Tabu Cave, which preserves the deepest stratigraphy of human evolution, from 400,000 years ago up until about 50,000 years ago, including a complete neanderthal skeleton [...] this is an exciting place. Because this is the place where modern humans as we understand them, and neanderthals as we understand them were encountering each other as modern humans left Africa."
So...the area of northern Israel is a/the place where modern humans and neanderthals were encountering each other as modern humans left Africa. Just let that sink in for a second. While you're thinking...if you're thinking that Mt. Carmel in Israel sounds familiar to you...it should. This is the location of the famous contest between the biblical prophet Elijah and the 450 priests of Baal! Here's the story for those who don't know it...just scroll down for those who do!
1 Kings 18
New Living Translation (NLT)
The Contest on Mount Carmel
1 Later on, in the third year of the drought...
16 So Obadiah went to tell Ahab that Elijah had come, and Ahab went out to meet Elijah. 17 When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”18 “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead. 19 Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel.” 20 So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. 21 Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.
22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only prophet of the Lord who is left, but Baal has 450 prophets. 23 Now bring two bulls. The prophets of Baal may choose whichever one they wish and cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood of their altar, but without setting fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood on the altar, but not set fire to it. 24 Then call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!” And all the people agreed. 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “You go first, for there are many of you. Choose one of the bulls, and prepare it and call on the name of your god. But do not set fire to the wood.” 26 So they prepared one of the bulls and placed it on the altar. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning until noontime, shouting, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no reply of any kind. Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made.
27 About noontime Elijah began mocking them. “You’ll have to shout louder,” he scoffed, “for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!” 28 So they shouted louder, and following their normal custom, they cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out. 29 They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no sound, no reply, no response. 30 Then Elijah called to the people, “Come over here!” They all crowded around him as he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been torn down. 31 He took twelve stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel, 31 and he used the stones to rebuild the altar in the name of the Lord. Then he dug a trench around the altar large enough to hold about three gallons. 33 He piled wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood.
Then he said, “Fill four large jars with water, and pour the water over the offering and the wood.”
34 After they had done this, he said, “Do the same thing again!” And when they were finished, he said, “Now do it a third time!” So they did as he said, 35 and the water ran around the altar and even filled the trench. 36 At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. 37 O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”
38 Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!” 40 Then Elijah commanded, “Seize all the prophets of Baal. Don’t let a single one escape!” So the people seized them all, and Elijah took them down to the Kishon Valley and killed them there.
Now, several items about this story jumped out at me right away. Firstly, in the third year of a drought in which no rain had fallen, where did Elijah come up with twelve large jars worth of water? Second, as a former professional magician, and a weekend alchemist, I felt like this story had all the events of a great stage show/illusion. On the mountaintop, everyone gathered, Elijah the underdog versus all the prophets of Baal. The way the trick is performed is classic stage magic, "Not only will God light the wood when Baal couldn't...let's make it even tougher! If I could get 4 volunteers from the audience...take these jars of water, and pour them over the altar...not just once, not just twice, but three times, ladies and gentleman!!!" That's the stage magician part...now how did the fire start? That's the alchemy/chemistry part. I'm not sure exactly what that "water" was, or what precise chemical reaction was involved, other than it was explosive!! But, it was extremely easy to find evidence connecting the prophet Elijah with alchemy. One need look no further than the Jewish Virtual Library,
"The prophet Elijah, also considered a great expert in alchemy, is frequently mentioned by the Christian alchemists, and some of their writings bear his name."
The third thing that I noticed was that neanderthals had lived in a known area of concentrated ancient Canaanite (Phoenician) god worship as early as 50,000 years ago. No big deal, right? Then I remembered Gorham's Cave:
Gorham's Cave is one of numerous cave sites on the Rock of Gibraltar that were occupied by Neanderthals from about 45,000 years ago to perhaps as recently as 23,000 years ago. Gorham's cave is one of the last sites that we know were occupied by Neanderthals: after that, anatomically modern humans (our direct ancestors) were the only hominid walking the earth. The cave is located at the foot of the Gibraltar promonitory, opening right onto the Mediterranean. It is one of a complex of four caves, all occupied when the sea level was much lower. Of the total 18 meters (60 feet) of archaeological deposit in the cave, the top 2 m (6.5 ft) includes Phoenician-Carthagenian and Neolithic occupations. The remaining 16 m (52.5 ft) include two Upper Paleolithic deposits, identified as Solutrean and Magdelenian. Below that, and reported to be separated by five thousand years is a level of Mousterian artifacts representing a Neanderthal occupation between 23,000 and 33,000 years ago; beneath that is an earlier occupation dated about 45,000 years ago.
So, in this cave, there was a Canaanite (Phoenician-Carthagenian) occupation and a Neanderthal occupation as early as 23,000 years ago, and quite possibly the 45,000 year old occupation was contemporary with the Mt. Carmel Neanderthals. Additionally, from the Encyclopedia Phoenicia,
"Hence the proposal, in the context of the Pillars (of Hercules) at the Straits of Gibraltar, that the concept of two pillars, one in the North and another in the South, in those times, would be recognized by all sailors as a religious prohibition, a warning that only the approved might pass between them [...] The existence of a Shrine at Gorham's Cave where thousands of items of Phoenician origin, votive offerings, are still being found by the Gibraltar Museum's 1998 'Gibraltar Caves Project' appears to support this hypothesis."
So, Neanderthals lived in another area of known, concentrated ancient Canaanite (Phoenician) god worship as early 23,000 years ago. Dots connected. I refuse to speculate here. Speculation hasn't worked well for me lately (see my last post). Maybe it will eventually turn out that there's no connection other than a strange correlation, and correlation in no way indicates causation. But it's getting more and more interesting.
Dave ~ Thanks for your time, I hope we get to know each other better.