Bacon Edward - Vanished civilizations

Author : Bacon Edward
Title : Vanished civilizations
Year : 1963

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Introduction. Edward Bacon. It is not difficult, and may be rewarding, to think of the ascent of man in terms of the story of the earth on which he lives-of a great land mass, developed, moulded and eroded by thousands of cataclysms and even more numerous minor and fluctuating influences. Rain falls, collects, sinks in and eventually develops into little streams beyond number, all of which have their various histories, separately and then together as they unite into larger streams, pools, lakes and minor and major rivers before merging into the shining sea which we call the Mediterranean civilization. But not all rivers reach the sea; some go underground, some disappear in the sand, others end in the hollow lands and after thousands of years of evaporation turn into the desolation of salt marsh, salt-pan, dead seas. For I 8oo years the citizens of Rome have looked upon the low reliefs on Trajan's column, to see barbarian horsemen represented there in scale armour. They could, had they cared, have read in their ancient books the stories of the battles on the Danube which kept these invaders in check. But nowhere do the histories of today give more than doubtful mention to this great people from the east-the Sarmatians. They are scattered and lost in the sands of time. Over long centuries the Maya peasant, the Khmer of Cambodia, the African of Southern Rhodesia, the Tuareg of the Tassili, have looked without understanding upon the astonishing monuments and works of art tumbling in ruins around them. When the Afghan herdsmen, the farmers of the Upper Nile, of the Iranian highlands and even of Etrurian Italy stumbled over the mounds which dot their country, they had no knowledge of the treasures which lay beneath. Civilizations in many ways greater than their own were totally forgotten. Now, in a much shorter space of time, the archaeologists and their co-workers in allied fields are re-discovering the history of these ancient peoples.Their techniques are almost infinitely diverse, as indeed are the facts which they must interpret. Their field of study is no longer confined to the few 'ancient' lands where rich discoveries have traditionally been made; it now extends across the whole world and embraces cultures in all stages of development and decay. Much thoughtfully organized, painstaking labour, much deep learning, and occasionally a flashing intuition are slowly recalling the living past to the memory of mankind. To watch this process at work is the purpose of this book. Each of the cultures selected for study is even now yielding up its secrets, but each contains a problem, a mystery still to be solved. It is possible in these pages to follow the clues as they are discovered, to view the assembled evidence, to join in its examination and to understand the slowly emergent truth. And no-one in this exciting search can fail to add to his understanding of man and his struggle to build a durable society. ...

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