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THE CALENDAR WAS THE FIRST AND LAST ACCOMPLISHMENT OF ANCIENT WISE MEN | 2001-11-17

It is easy for our kind of history to ignore the basics because the technological basics bore us. That is why what we call history is almost entirely nonsense.

For each civilization the beginning was a calendar. Whether it is the annual Nile flood or the coming of the rainy season an exact calendar became essential to survival as agriculture advanced.

The calendar is the titanic and critical ACCOMPLISHMENT PHASE of each civilization. It is the only time when the "intellectuals" who later become a shaman class actually do something useful.

Those first real intellectuals who made the accurate calendars were very special people. But they do not interest the historian and we know nothing about them. We have no interest in this group until they transform from intellectuals into shaman and start rolling out that fascinating nonsense we call Ancient Wisdom.

The first calendar was a work of precision never before accomplished.

After all, some kind of calendar existed before the dinosaurs. Many dinosaurs were herd animals and moved with the seasons. Their pig-like predecessors probably needed some ability to anticipate the seasons too. Homo erectus could tell that rain was coming on or that it was becoming fall.

What we call a calendar was new not because it told us that winter would come soon, for that knowledge is in our bones. The human calendar tells us far ahead from year to year when each season will come. A civilization can only plant and sow and rotate crops and avoid being washed out by rain if it has a dependable calendar.

Foresight, patience, and sticking to nothing but the facts were the essential characteristics of the first and last intellectual leaders Ancient Civilizations ever had, those who developed the calendar.

In early civilizations you might have to use a third of your grain just to plant the new crop. If it got washed out twice you would starve. And as agriculture advanced, hundreds lived on land that only a single hunter-gatherer could survive on before. There was no going back so life more and more depended on the calendar.

Those who developed the calendar over the years became powerful. But once it was developed, the knowledge they had was there for the learning. At this point those who ruled the calendar could just show everybody how to predict the seasons and go back to being like everybody else.

If they did this they would still be real, productive intellectual leaders. They would say, "We have developed a great piece of knowledge. It is now time for everyone to learn it and we can go on to searching for other knowledge."

That never happened in any of the Great Civilizations.