We are a species with Amnesia
Until only a few tens of thousands of years ago, the Homo family was large and boisterous. Sapiens shared the world with a diverse collection of cousins:
Homo denisovans we know from a single finger bone. Yet, from within that tiny fragment we managed to extract an entire perfectly preserved genome. Archeologists have begun to find beautiful Denisovan relics perhaps 70K years old.
Homo floresiensis Mysterious small-bodied Hominins from the island of Flores in Indonesia.
We know we bred with some of these vanished cousins, there will be others too, lost races of sentient creatures who lived, loved, and learned for mega years before the first word was committed to mud or bark. They will not show up in the fossil record, their bodies are dust and their stories are gone.
Deep time is an impenetrable mist.
We have lost everything.
We Sapiens Sapiens, the Elioud, are the lone survivors.
Only tantalizing fragments of myths remain of those who came before.
We are a species with amnesia.
Our imaginations must fill the blanks…
The following is fiction — probably.
It is two-hundred and sixty thousand Terran sidereal years — ten Great Years — since Sapiens split from his hominid cousins.
In that time, the shifting equinoxes have completed nine migrations through the houses of the zodiac.
Ice Ages have come and gone since Mitochondrial Eve took her first breath. In this time the polar ice caps have pushed down nearly to the Mediterranean three times before retreating again, back to the North.
Our species was birthed in Africa, far away from the icy cold, but the slow respiration of our planet, whose periodic inhalation sends tundra raiding south into France and Germany, brings rains to the African deserts, turning dust to lush jungle for long Ages before cycling them relentlessly back to dust. We evolved towards the end of one such African flourishing, when the Sahara would have been verdant forest and the sea one-hundred-and-fifty meters below where it lies today.
Perhaps it was the encroaching grassland and withering forests that first forced us down from the trees, then lifted our peering eyes above the stalks of tall grass; a Darwinian, leopard assisted, pruning of the short and hunched.
Sapiens stayed in Africa, for five more Great Years, isolated by the rampant Sahara and swollen seas. But the arrival of another ice age far away to the north brought a tempering of the climate, creating a tempting path of green which led our forefathers along the rift valley to Djibouti where they gazed across the Bab al-Mandab; looking out over waters drawn low by the vast expanses of kilometer deep glaciers arrayed across huge swathes of North America and Europe.
On cool clear mornings Sapiens could see land beckoning from far across the hazy waters; the cliffs of Perim…
Reed boats took them across the Bab el-Mandib to Asia.
There were no sons of Adam or daughters of Eve here, but there were people –
Others, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo denisovans and the mythical Homo anunnalis, had been enjoying the paradise of Arabia and the Levant for one-hundred-and-twenty Ages — three-hundred thousand years; ten Great Years — before a trickle of Sapiens began arriving on the shores of Arabia, clutching their woven bags and gourds.
Of those brave enough to dare the crossing, a few returned. They told of terrible giants, imploring listeners to believe fantastic stories of wondrous plenty and terrifying men of ivory and ochre.
They were not like us. They had no place for kings or priests. Their ethics and impulses were not ours. They lived in families and small clans. They spoke their own languages — which we could learn, but never fully understand; their words behaved badly; refused to translate cleanly.
The slow passage of the Ages brought new waves of furtive, fast-breeding, famine adapted Sapiens from the South.
As their numbers relentlessly grew, they pushed into lands already settled. Inevitably, there was conflict. For many Ages, every battle Sapiens fought with the giants he lost; but every time he was driven back, he would retreat, only to come again, mere centuries later, scrawny and persistent, with hunger at his back.
Anannalis withdrew before the waves of new arrivals and slowly Sapiens drove the Neanderthal clans from Arabia.
But war, genocide and persecution were not the only interactions between these people. Over generations, proximity and illicit passion mixed the races and shuffled cultural and genetic inheritances.
Gifted children of errant couplings were born —
—ages later these hybrid people are remembered as the Nephilim, Elioud, and Anakim.
“When men began to increase on earth and daughters were born to them, the divine beings saw how beautiful the daughters of men were and they took wives from among those that pleased them… It was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on earth — when the divine beings cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown.” Genesis, Chapter 6, from the Jewish translation of the Torah.
This was the world before 50K BC. Homo sapiens in their huts, Homo denisovan in their villages to the East. Neanderthalensis, to the West and North, seeking refuge from Sapiens’ relentless expansion, sheltering in havens deep in isolated forests or hiding in remote caves. Far away in the Hyperborean North, mythical Anunnalis, long departed, leaving their Elioud children—barren, but magnificent to behold and formidable of intellect—to watch over the tribes of Man; great leaders and prophets, blessed of the Anunnali, directing great works and building cyclopean places of power…
…but the universe was about to demonstrate that life on this thin shell is perilously fragile, intervening brutally, with such destructive pique, that all that remains today of this pre-cataclysm golden age are scattered enigmatic ruins; cyclopean structures so out of context that fearing ridicule most who study them acquiesce to flimsy improbable explanations of their origin – or, more often than not, ignore them entirely. Academic inertia forces them to cling instead to a chronology of human civilization defined in the Nineteenth Century when people still believed the Earth was six thousand years old. In doing so, they ignore an extraordinary story of survival in the face of a raging universe determined to wipe them—us—from the face of this planet.
These essays gather recent ideas and research I have been putting together while worldbuilding for an upcoming speculative, science-based, novel of antediluvian adventure. It is continued in Part 2.