Thursday, March 16, 2023

Episode #281: Origins of Civilization

With our trip to Turkey coming soon, we sit down to record this episode with Gobekli Tepe on our minds, and this leads to a discussion about the origins of civilization. What came first, the temple, or civilization? How do hunter gatherer people become farmers and ranchers?

Obviously, we don't have the answers. But we work through our thoughts in this episode, and it will be interesting to see how much we learn, and how that will change what we think now, after we see Gobekli Tepe for ourselves.


  1. About temple or civilization coming first; I have a picture of the people moving around and putting up some trail markers. Maybe they make bigger ones, more solid ones after losing a few. Maybe develop a custom of celebrating when they reach one, that they know fresh food will be available. Maybe an elder dies during the season there and they add to the marker because of that.

  2. As for temples and monuments, I could see nomads coming by a rock outcrop on their travels and thinking "that kinda looks like a lion, every time I go by it, I'm going to try to make it look even more like a lion." Then your kid sees you doing that and continues the tradition.

  3. As for domestication of grasses, the answer (like so many things in life) comes down to beer. Some grains sprout and ferment, and you think this variety tastes pretty good, so you grab the biggest seed heads you can find (because they have the most seeds) to plant nearby. Then each generation you keep putting aside the biggest seed heads for the next generation before you turn the rest into beer. So you're selecting for larger seed heads that don't disperse their seeds very readily. After that, I could see other traits being selected for without even necessarily knowing you're doing it (at least at first). All because of beer.


You've got questions? We've got more questions.