Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Olympia: The Stone Age (4000-2000 BC)

As a storyteller, I try to stay close to the narrative of the Bible. At the same time, I like to maintain at least a nodding acquaintance with the narrative of the Olympian religious tradition. This dominant tradition tells the primary stories of our times and defines which stories are normative for our societies.

Olympian and biblical traditions: in good Chalcedonian fashion, I don’t want to mix the two, I don’t want to ignore either, and I want to rightly order them by keeping the meaning of the biblical narrative primary.

Olympian storytellers refer to long periods of human history in the distant past as ages. Because Vulcan is one of the Olympian gods, Olympian storytellers divide the distant past into three ages based on the dominant form of technology in each age. Hence they identify Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages.

This way of dividing time was first developed and popularized by Christian Thomsen (1788-1865). He was a Danish antiquarian living in Copenhagen. In 1836 he published his best understanding of these ages in an essay entitled “Guide to Scandinavian Archeology.”

Using the biblical chronology, we may say that creation occurred in 4004 BC (Ussher) with meaningful days of conviviality shared by God, Adam, and Eve. The Age of Olympianity also began in 4004 BC, following the rupture in our convivial relationship with God, and continued until the call of Abraham by Yahweh in 1921 BC. That initiated the Age of Yahwism.

Olympian storytellers understand the Stone Age to have started before 4004 BC and to have continued, in general, until about 2000 BC. Looking at different regions of Olympia in detail, the transition from Stone Age to Bronze Age did not occur simultaneously across Olympia. Even in any one region, some people were using cutting objects made of stone, some were using ones made of bronze, and some were using both.

A number of significant changes occurred during the Stone Age. We humans first domesticated plants and animals and agriculture began. We began to sow and reap grains, especially wheat, and to raise dogs, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs. Sources of food became more reliable and plentiful.

We established our first cities: creations of Vulcan, focal points of all the gods of Olympus, and the greatest monuments to ourselves. Within them we built durable structures such as houses. We developed occupational specializations: potters, weavers, and metalworkers as well as priests and kings.

Steadier sources of food and permanent settlements led to significant increases in population. It also led to greater wealth. Larger populations and greater wealth led to fiercer competition between individuals in one settlement and between settlements over control of other people and wealth. This led to greater inequalities in the distribution of wealth within cities and to larger and more frequent battles between them.

According to the Olympian narrative, people did not broadly settle across northern Olympia until about 3000 BC. The Stone Age, already in Mesopotamia by 4000 BC, didn’t reach parts of northern Olympia until 2000 BC. Stone-Age culture advanced from Mesopotamia northward across the Black Sea, northwestward up the Danube and Rhine Rivers to the North Sea, and westward along the Mediterranean coast.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.