We are a species with Amnesia
This is Part Two of the Hidden History of Man. See Part One for 260K BC to 70K BC.
Seventy-thousand years ago: the polar ice caps are swollen, ice covers much of North America. In Europe, glaciers sortie south nearly reaching the shores of the Mediterranean. North Africa and the Levant are warm and wet. In the Middle East, the Persian Gulf is a fertile land of swamps, forests, and hills. The Tigris and Euphrates flow through fertile valleys all the way to the Gulf of Oman.
The sea level is 150 meters lower than today. Thousands of miles of coast long vanished, still rise above the surface of the Earth’s waters.
The following is fiction — probably…
The ancestors of Homo denisovans, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo anunnalis had left Africa, three hundred thousand sidereal years — ten Great Years — before Sapiens first dared to float across the Bab el-Mandib on his bundles of dried grass and twine. As successions of Ice Ages and balmy Interglacials rolled across the Eurasian landscape, northern Homo populations were repeatedly split and merged by the rhythms of glaciation. Swelling over millennia during halcyon times of plenty, only to be decimated and isolated with the arrival of each new age of snow. When the cold came, clans were separated for tens of thousands of years. Even in neighbouring valleys, tribes might be divided for millennia by the barriers of cold and snow.
When the ice retreated, the descendants of the survivors left the protected pockets where they had sheltered and spread across newly greened pastures. They found the land suddenly bountiful; fertile and bursting with birds and mammals enjoying population explosions of their own. Venturing forth, the peoples mixed and merged; hybridizing with lost cousins and re-shuffling long-isolated genomes.
Advantageous traits spread like wildfire amongst these wildly surging populations.
In golden days that came at the end of the previous Ice Age, Homo annunali emerged from this riotous melting pot and journeyed south into valleys filled with lakes and rivers fed by retreating glaciers. In intellect and stature, Annunali rose above their kin. They were the firstborn; the first to comprehend their place in the world; the first to seek answers in the riddles of the Great Mother. As ages passed and forests claimed meadows, which had once been ice, the great long-lived Annunali amassed strong ‘magicks’.
It is into this new world of possibility that Sapiens ventures from the South. Born on the plains of Africa, they are products of a very different environment. Streaming north, Sapiens lives in his huts of grass and mud. He has not yet started building with stone, nor baking clay, nor melting metals. He scratches an existence, cowering, ignorant before the unforgiving leering face of a capricious, callous universe.
When he first encounters Annunali – ivory giants with flaming hair; creatures of the cold; beings forged and polished through Great Years in the crucible of European Ice-Ages – and their works of ‘magick’ Sapiens finds his primal stories of juju and ancestor spirits incarnated; he has found his gods.
Inscriptions, carved millennia later, will remember them as the Anunnaki.
We know nothing of this world today, nor of the golden age which will follow it. The rising sea, released by the melting of ice sheets, has covered vanished coastlines and submerged their buildings of stark polygonal stone. This pre-diluvian world lies lost to us now under hundreds of meters of flood. The scarce traces which remain at the surface today perplex the curious, and infuriate the dogmatic. They are enigmas, anachronisms, out of place and time, their builders lost to memory…
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…
From cyclopean palaces on icy peaks, the few Anunnali not departed watch the swarming Sapiens. These giants—terrible, fickle, and unfathomable—make uneasy neighbours.
To serve and appease, Sapiens sends their brightest sons and daughters to serve their gods in these high cold places. Ideas mix, but worlds never truly meet. Anunnali are too divergent, their ways too strange. They are stoic, measured, incapable of lies or fantasy. They stand naked before the universe; their minds unafraid of its roaring indifference.
Occasionally though, lust and physical need bring god and man together and children are born. Never as magnificent in stature as their divine parents, they are nonetheless formidable. In intellect and wisdom they surpass both man and god. Their minds are a mélange: Sapiens genes re-wiring massive Anunnali brains. Most of their offspring are mules, sterile, and their numbers remain low, despite their long lives.
The towering half-god children of the Anunnaki are welcomed as kings and queens by the Sapiens building the first towns at the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates. With their guidance, these settlements grow into great cities ruled by just matriarchs and patriarchs. Myth remembers these divine royalty as the Nephilim; Elioud; half-gods, Watchers from the high places sent to guide. They share the ‘majiks’ of their parents with the peoples of the Levant. By fifty-thousand years ago, a world-spanning network of glorious wonders has been fashioned; the planet’s first global civilization.
The Sapiens who visit these places leave awed by glimpses of the incomprehensible. Their breathless wide-eyed stories spread like fire across dry grass. The clans of Sapiens who hear of the wonders make pilgrimage. They bring offerings of their most treasured possessions—baskets, cloaks and hats of woven grass, bowls of baked earth, blades of knapped obsidian, collars of rolled gold—but the magician-priests are unimpressed with this crude matter. Infertile, unable to reproduce, the Elioud seek another way. They ignore the mounds of treasures laid before their altars and look instead for knowledge hidden in the blood. They take secrets from the Denisovans venturing into the Levant from the East, from the few Neanderthals still to be found in the North, and from the never-ending streams of Sapiens welling up from the South. Splicing motifs, mixing traits, refining and perfecting form…
Mesopotamian myth records an ancient memory of how rugged Neanderthalensis and wise Sapiens’ were brought together:
There is a man, unlike any other, who comes down from the hills… he helps the beasts to escape and now they slip through my fingers. The Epic of Gilgamesh
…valiant Enkidu [*Neanderthalensis], born of Silence, endowed with strength by Ninurta. His whole body is shaggy with hair, he has a full head of hair like a woman, his locks billow in profusion like Ashnan. He knows neither people nor settled living. The Epic of Gilgamesh
The woman will overcome the creature as if she were strong. When the animals are drinking at the watering place, have her take off her robe and expose her sex. When he sees her he will draw near to her, and his animals, who grew up in his wilderness, will be alien to him. The Epic of Gilgamesh
…for six days and seven nights they lay together, for Enkidu [*Neanderthalensis] had forgotten his home in the hills; but when he was satisfied he went back to the wild beasts. Then, when the gazelle saw him, they bolted away; when the wild creatures saw him they fled. Enkidu would have followed, but his body was bound as though with a cord, his knees gave way when he started to run, his swiftness was gone. And now the wild creatures had all fled away; Enkidu was grown weak, for wisdom was in him, and the thoughts of a man were in his heart. The Epic of Gilgamesh
The races of the Levant are blurring and merging; changed by millennia of meddling. Elohim are powerful but scarce, the few remaining Anunnali have gone, escaping the growing clamor of civilization and returning North towards the retreating ice.
The slow precession of the heavens marks the passage of time. Against the celestial calendar, the sun and stars measure off many Golden Ages as months of a Great Year. At its peak, this first shining civilization casts its influence across the globe. Philosophy, astronomy, and math have risen to heights not to be attained again for tens of millennia. Within the great cities of cyclopean stone, the few remaining Annunali, finish their work; melding, crafting and perfecting. Myth knows those touched by their design as the Anakim and Elioud.
Perhaps these first civilized peoples believe they have built a utopia which will outlast even the eternal perfection of the heavens; but day by day a new visitor grows in the night—soon, its robes will dominate the sky. Whether day or night, its numinous tail is a spill of milk which stretches from horizon to horizon; its nucleus is a gob of cold light. The heavenly firmaments hold all answers. To the ancient races, the new arrival in the sky is an auspicious visitation.
Far away in the North, Anunnali too watch the comet’s movements against the familiar stars. They know what is coming.
Elohim priests contemplate a new sign in their sky. They will do what they can to warn and protect, but their world is about to change forever.
Sapiens whispers to his brothers still streaming North across the Bab el-Mandib:
“…a message from their departed gods”.
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 3.