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One of my research interests is in the effects of longevity on culture.  May we hypothesize that sustainable life grows best during long periods of environmental stability? 
 
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No one can miss the similarity of the belts around the rhino (and other animals) in Chauvet, France to the stone image from Yosemite Park in Wyoming, USA (left).  Did these wide belts indicate ownership, as did the belt at the midsection of the much later Roman slave?  May the markings have denoted the "fair game" midsection in which to strike the mortal blow?  Or might they have marked the beast as holy, PREVENTING it from being hunted or slaughtered?

 

Not only was culture extremely long-lived in ancient times, but it may also have been widely shared, perhaps even globally.  At the current time, thoughts about what philosophies, energy and technologies might have enabled the ancient cultures to spread and persist are merely speculations.

 

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Isolated for millenia in the pitch-blackness of a cavern only recently found in France, the skull of a large bear seems curiously perched atop an "alter" of rock that could perhaps represent the bear's body.  Extremely high quality paintings on the walls of the same cavern left by Paleolithic people depict herds of pleistocene creatures, many that sport black bands around their midsections: 

 

plentiful hippos, antelope, mastadon, auroc and horses!

 

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Cultures like that of the cave painters lasted without interruption perhaps 20,000 years or more prior to the end of the last ice age.  Could the hunters, as we expect, or megafauna herders perhaps ["like a rhinoceras cowboy"] have been the outsiders of the dominant societies of their day? 

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What of the great underwater cities we are now discovering still buried these past 12,000 years under the floodwaters of the ice age meltdown?  What will they tell us about the sustainability of urbanized societies before the LGM?  Just how urban was urban in those peleolithic times?  Could our civilization be one of several that have experienced a rapid (<5,000 years) technological boom?  Could a cycle of them occur interspersed with periods of more sustainable hunter-gatherer lifestyles?


Above, below and to the right notice the ubiquity of a known symbol of strength, the bear.  A common shape is the arched four-footed bear; that symbol is shared by recent and apparently ancient Native Americans and also the ancient Japanese.  The small bear amulet to the left was uncovered at a Japanese construction site recently.  The drawing of a magatama in this same form was done a century ago from curiosities collected in Japan. 

 

In North America, a huge (see the meter bar?) stone bear rears up in the woods on a platform bounded by a low rock wall.  We hardly expect to find megalithic structures in the Northeast United States, do we?  We focus on them moreso in Malta and offshore Alexandria and southern Japan and Stonehenge, and perhaps in the Andes.  Whatever was known of megalithic shaping, transportation and construction was lost from the entire living memory of humanity.  What if the huge stone structures we can find in evidence today once formed only the foundations, basements and supports for much larger and lighter structures that were all washed away with the global superfloods?  Questions, questions.

 

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Will our global civilization learn the secrets of cultural longevity in time to avoid the final stormy meltwaters of glacial icecaps that have remained frozen through at least seven great ice ages and their shorter interglacials over the past 1.5 million years?  They are melting now!  Under an accelerated melting scenario, they could decisively ruin the habitability of communities sheltering half the people alive on Earth.