Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Imaginary realities (or why all history is imaginary)

July 12, 2018

History is causal.

Actual events in the past resulted in the present. What we think, now, about those events in the past or what stories we tell, now, about the past are of no consequence to the present (no matter how fascinating or revisionist those stories may be).

The consequences of past events reverberate into the future until their influence has reduced so as to be submerged into the background noise. Say it actually was an asteroid impact 65 million years ago which led to the mass extinction of large dinosaurs (even if some survive as birds today). The reverberations of that asteroid impact can no longer be definitively detected. It can still be inferred by other events but all direct consequences are now part of the background noise. We can imagine other alternative histories. It might have been a super-volcano eruption – the detectable impacts of which would now also be lost in the noise – which caused the decline of the dinosaurs. Large dinosaurs may have disappeared catastrophically over a very short period or dwindled gradually over a few million years. We can imagine any story we like as long as its effects are now lost within the background. The super-volcano eruption and the asteroid impact are equally real (or equally imaginary).

Is reality confined to the present?

A real event that occurred yesterday is not real now. If everything not-real is imaginary then everything in history is imaginary now. Events that did occur are imaginary in the now. But events that did not occur are also imaginary. For events from as close as yesterday there may be collateral evidence to support one particular imaginary reality that was. For recent events some imaginary reality may be more real than another. But for events from the more distant past all the supporting evidence may be buried within the background rumble from the past. Then all imaginary realities are equal on the reality scale of imaginary realities. But the “real” reality must be causally connected to the present and so must also be the realities of the future.

Clearly time has an impact on reality. Perhaps it is wrong to thing of reality by itself and we need to think instead of the space within which reality can exist and the reality time-line. The reality space is the space of causality.

Reality space

Perhaps reality has to have a time axis. From the now, past or future realities (which are imaginary in the now) are time-lines which can only exist in the reality space. The reality time-line then must be capable of being causally connected within the reality space and must pass through the now. The imaginary space is then that where events cannot be causally connected to the present.

That dinosaurs have become chickens lies within the reality space that we can discern now and is an imagined reality. That dinosaurs became tigers lies in the imaginary space but cannot be causally linked and, therefore, is not even an imaginary reality.




History is always a few documented events connected by speculation

June 1, 2018

History is  a narrative of the past, a story. It must be a story consistent with the present and with the available evidence of past events. The further back into the past we go the less is the surviving evidence. Evidence of a past event may be direct in the form of surviving documents or artefacts but it may also be indirect as calculations and estimates in the now about the past. The credibility of the narrative is enhanced by the weight of evidence that can be marshalled but – of necessity – the available evidence for past events , even in the immediate past,  is always spotty and incomplete. Where evidence is not available the historian is free to speculate as long as his narrative includes those events for which evidence does exist and the entire narrative is credible.

Most events in our lives are not recorded and leave no evidence. Even where evidence of actions remain, the prevailing emotions are rarely recorded. The actions of minor players, even if they were crucial, are rarely recorded. Much of what I did yesterday can be remembered but cannot be “proven”. And much of what I did yesterday is already forgotten. For periods without evidence (or memory) any credible narrative is valid.

Histories are never as objective and dispassionate and free of bias as their authors suppose. They are always written and rewritten to suit the present.  Inevitably they carry the current prejudices and biases of the historian. They are often written with a political agenda to justify current actions or to influence the actions of the future. Many histories, for example of Rome, which survive are themselves “rewritten histories” with political bias inbuilt. Yet when they are used as “documentation” for subsequent histories, the speculation of their authors are elevated to be “documented events”.

The actual happenings of the past can never be changed. But the story of those happenings is always changeable as long as the narrative remains credible. The credibility lies primarily in not making statements which are contradicted by the available evidence. From the recent past (such as WW 2) there is an abundance of records of varying accuracy available. Some of the records are intended disinformation where the intention has been lost. Other records are inconsistent or even contradictory. From the distant past there is a paucity of evidence which necessitates a great deal of interpretation and reinterpretation.  Socialist historians bring their prejudices to bear and “free market” historians have their own interpretations.. Liberal historians in the US are rewriting the history of the age of slavery based on their values today. Nationalist historians in India are reinterpreting colonial times based on their current values. A false history written today may a thousand years hence, if it survives, become “documentary evidence” of events which never took place. Histories are written in the present for the present and as long they are credible, what actually happened is irrelevant.

History scholars like to pretend that they can be objective. Scholarly histories and historical fiction are essentially the same genre of literature. A scholarly history has a high density of documented events and a minimum of speculation. But any scholarly work cannot avoid speculation and cannot avoid being political. Historical fiction on the other hand has some story to tell which is hung on a few historical events as the backdrop for the story. The difference lies only in how much of the content is speculation and how much is a reporting of documented events. Whereas historical fiction can tolerate content being contradicted by evidence, scholarly histories cannot.



Without Hitler, Israel would probably not exist

April 8, 2018

History is causal.

Above all, it is existential.

“What would have been if …..?” can never be more than a thought experiment. Wishing away horrific events in the past is not just pointless, it is a form of denial of “what is”.  Being proud of past generations or apologising for their actions are both equally inane.

  • Without prophets, gods would not exist
  • Without the rise of the Roman Empire, we wouldn’t have highways
  • Without the fall of the Roman Empire, we wouldn’t have Ferraris today
  • Without the European colonisation of the Americas, native Americans would still be primitive hunter gatherers
  • Without the European colonisation of the Americas, Asian cuisine (horror of horrors) would not include chillies
  • Without the colonisation of Australia, the aborigines would be either extinct or speaking Chinese,
  • Without British colonisation, the Indian sub-continent would be a mishmash of little warring kingdoms,
  • Without Hitler, Israel would probably not exist today.

Apologising for what previous generations or your ancestors may have done makes no sense.

If you must apologise, apologise for what your children and your descendants may do.


History is always just a story

August 17, 2017

History is nothing but a story, a current story giving current judgments about past events shrouded by diminishing knowledge about the events themselves and of the motivations and causes of past behaviour.

The past is immutable but history is an ever-changing narrative about the past and is always subject to  a current agenda. Even current reporting of past histories has an agenda. The narrative is political – current politics and not the actual politics of the past. The only constraints that the stories of history have is that they not violate evidence that still remains. As we go back into time the hard evidence available diminishes rapidly and the scope for the historian to make up a narrative to suit his agenda increases.

How and why does history get rewritten?

If you read a history book written in the United States from the 1950s, on the origins of the Cold War, you’d get a definitive answer on which country was to blame, backed up with extensive evidence to justify its points. The book would say it was the fault of Soviet Russia, under the leadership of Stalin, …. If you picked up a US history book from the late 1960s, the chances are, you’d get a very different view. You’d read of America’s desire to take over economic control of Europe and tie the countries there to the dollar. …. By the 1980s and 1990s, the story would be retold again. Historians would point out that the Cold War was inevitable, given the ideological differences that existed between East and West, and it is futile to try to blame one person or even one country in particular. 

The point is, that our retelling of what happened in the past changes constantly, and this is true with just about every major event in history. The causes of the Second World War used to be straightforward. Hitler was to blame. But then along came the British historian AJP Taylor, and iconoclastically revised our view by suggesting that Hitler was only doing what he was allowed to do, …… 

Some historians claim to be objective. But they are fooling themselves. Any person who even recites his own history ascribes behaviour and motives to himself and to others to suit the needs of the present. The only constraint is that events for which evidence survives cannot be contradicted. Motivations are always malleable. There are events from my childhood for which there is evidence that the events occurred, but there is infinite scope available in the ascribing of motives which led to the behaviour of that time.

History is not bunk, but it is not about truth. It is always a story about the past to suit the politics of the present.


Remembering an escape from Singapore — 75 years on

August 12, 2017

Capt. Mark Pillai c. 1950

My father would have been 106 years old yesterday.

Seventy five years ago he was the first Allied officer (the first of only five) to escape from being a Japanese prisoner-of-war and successfully return to India. He left Singapore on 7th May 1942 and managed to reach India on 26th August 1942.

First Allied POW escape from Singapore in 1942

He was the first Allied prisoner of war to escape from Changi and return to India. He used to tell us that he had travelled a thousand miles on foot, a thousand miles by boat and a thousand miles by train to make his journey of 3000 miles to freedom. In 1968 he tried to get a copy of his official debriefing report from the War Office in London to cross-check his manuscript written from memory long after the event. But he found that the report had been classified to be held secret for 50 years.

In 1942, the Allies were desperate for “good news” and the story of the escape was widely distributed – though labelled top secret – and only within Allied military circles. Recognition was rushed through as “Most Urgent” and he was awarded the Military Cross. However, the official documents remained secret for 50 years and were not released till 1992. Apparently the 50 year secret classification was because his debriefing included not only the names of people who had helped him along the way but also the names of people he felt were Japanese collaborators.

The documents below are the Royal Approval for that award initialed by King George VI on 11th September just two weeks after his return. He received the award from Field Marshal Wavell.

“3000 Miles to Freedom” by Brig. M. M Pillai M.C.



Did religions originate as death rituals long before we were human?

August 7, 2017

The roots of religion lie very deep and probably go back to before our ancestors had become hominids.

The sequence probably began with rituals, possibly death and birth rituals in that order. The gods came later. They were likely invented and invested with magical powers to call for desired weather or to avoid natural disasters. Organised religions and their troublesome priests came even later. The use of death rituals most likely goes back to before our ancestors came down from the trees which would be before bipedalism and before the control of fire.

Animals may have religion:

First, animal responses to death show striking similarities to how humans religiously respond to death. For instance, magpies, gorillas, elephants, llamas, foxes, and wolves all use ritual to cope with the death of a companion. Magpies will peck the dead body and then lay blades of grass next to it. Gorillas hold something so similar to a “wake” that many zoos have formalized the ritual. Elephants hold large “funeral” gatherings and treat the bones of their deceased with great respect. Llamas utilize stillness to mourn for their dead. Foxes bury their dead completely, as do wolves, who, if they lose a mate, will often go without sex and seek solitude. In all of these cases, the animals rely on ritual to ease the pain of death. Even if one will not grant their rituals the title “religious,” at the very least the overlap between animal and human death rituals stands out as striking.

Hominids first appeared around 7 -8 million years ago. It is quite likely that they already had death rituals not unlike what we see in gorillas today. These rituals probably became quite complex over the next few million years as communication within and between social groups increased. It is also during this period that the “awe” engendered by natural catastrophes and nature in general was probably formalised into rituals.

…. primates respond to what appears to be the “awe” of nature in ways that could be described as “religious.” The chimpanzees of Gombe “dance” at the base of an enormous waterfall in the Kakombe Valley. This “dance” moves slowly and rhythmically alongside the riverbed. The chimps transition into throwing giant rocks and branches, and then hanging on vines over the stream until the vines verge on snapping. Their “dance” lasts for ten minutes or longer. For humans, this waterfall certainly instills awe and majesty. Obviously, no one can know the internal processes of a chimpanzee. That said, given the champanzees’ reaction to the waterfall and their evolutionary nearness to humans, it is not far-fetched to think that they too may experience feelings of awe when they encounter that waterfall.

Another set of primates, the savanna chimps of Senegal, perform a fire dance. Most animals flee from wildfires, fearing for their lives. To the contrary, these chimps only slowly move away from it, and at times even move closer to it. One dominant male went so far as to make a slow and exaggerated “display” at the fire.

For one last example of primates possibly exhibiting a reaction to the awe of nature, Gombe baboons perform a “baboon sangha.” Without signal or warning, these baboons sat in silence before a stream with many small pools and simply gazed at the water. They did this for over 30 minutes, without even the juveniles making a peep. Again without signal or warning, they resumed their normal activities.

The first god?

The control of fire only comes with homo erectus around 1.6 million years ago. By this time the idea of a sun-god and a moon-god and wind-gods had probably been established. The advent of fire gave rise to fire-gods as offshoots of the sun-god. Initially, I have no doubt, the priority was that the gods were to be placated. With survival the primary objective, natural disasters were to be avoided at all costs. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and storms unleashed unimaginable and inexplicable power and were ascribed to angry gods. Angry gods needed to be placated. It seems to me that explicitly seeking the favour of the gods – prayer – must have come much later.

The idea of priests as having a special position as the mediators between the rabble and the gods, probably coincides with the organisation of rituals and gods into religions. That, of course, is much more recent and probably no more than around 20,000 years ago.

Related: Do Animals Have Religion? Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Religion and Embodiment


Could Lincoln have avoided civil war?

May 2, 2017

Could the US civil war have been avoided? Perhaps Lincoln was not entirely without blame. Perhaps there was an alternative to war to get rid of slavery.
The US and Haiti were the only two countries which ended slavery by violent means.

This is an extract from Sanderson Beck’s essay written in 2008.

……. President Buchanan took the weak position that he had no authority to decide any of these questions, and he declined to make any preparations to fight over them. In fact by his negligence some weapons of the United States were moved to the South by their sympathizers in his Democratic administration.

Lincoln took the strong position, which some would call tyrannical, that states have no right to secede from the Union. He believed it was his obligation as President to enforce the laws that would keep the states in the Union even against their will as expressed by democratic conventions and state legislatures. His policy is ironic and even hypocritical because this position conflicts with Lincoln’s own doctrine of the right of revolution that he expressed in Congress on January 12, 1848 during the Mexican War when he said,

Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power,
have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government
and form a new one that suits them better.
This is a most valuable—a most sacred right— a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.
Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize and make their own so much of the territory as they inhabit. More than this, a majority of any portion of such people may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled with or near about them, who may oppose their movement. Such minority was precisely the case of the Tories of our own revolution.
It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old lines or old laws, but to break up both and make new ones.

In his inaugural address President Lincoln warned against a civil war while promising that he would not invade the South. ……..

…….. Two days after he announced the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus throughout the nation. Careful research by scholars, such as Mark E. Neely, Jr., indicates that during the Civil War the Federal Government imprisoned more than 14,000 civilians for opposing the Government or its war in some way. Lincoln authorized military officers to shut down newspapers if they were disrupting recruiting or the war effort. The Provost Marshal General’s Bureau was organized in 1863, and by the end of the war two years later they had arrested and returned to the Union Army 76,526 deserters. During the draft 161,286 citizens failed to report to the Union Army, but how many of them were arrested is unknown.

Lincoln also had imperial ambitions for the United States, and he used Government subsidies to finance the transcontinental railroad to the west coast. In 1862 a crop failure caused starvation among the Santee Sioux because the Federal Government refused to pay them the $1,410,000 owed them from the sale of 24 million acres in 1851. When the Sioux revolted, General John Pope tried to exterminate them. Hundreds of Indians were held as prisoners of war and were given military trials that sentenced 303 to death. President Lincoln commuted most of these sentences, but thirty-nine were put to death in the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. After Lincoln’s death under mostly Republican administrations the experienced military would be used to attack any Indians who were in the way of the railroads and the western expansion of the United States. Lincoln was ambitious on behalf of the United States and did not want to see the empire divided. He developed the power of the imperial presidency as commander-in-chief by arrogating to himself extra-constitutional “war powers. ………
…… In the 19th century most nations in the world abolished slavery by peaceful means. The British freed all the slaves in their empire in six years, completing the process in 1840. Most Latin American nations emancipated all their slaves between 1813 and 1854, and the gradual liberation of slaves in Brazil was completed in 1888. The only other violent emancipation of slaves was the slave uprising in Haiti in 1794.”


In defense of walls – where human security is rooted

May 16, 2016

The wall that Donald Trump talks about to keep out illegal immigrants and the ridicule that it attracts has become a political football in the US presidential election. Barack Obama talks about no good coming from any wall. Yet, he also talks about increasing the height of the wall around the White House. “Knocking down walls” is a phrase loved by the shallow of mind and is supposed to always be a good thing. But it is the building of walls which has provided the fundamental human security – and privacy – which in turn has enabled human development.

The demonisation of walls is dishonourable and puerile.

Human security is rooted in and depends upon the building of walls. Whereas the control of fire is what distinguishes the species of homo, it is the building of walls which is one of the distinguishing features of homo sapiens. The origins of wall building probably go back to the very origins of AMH (anatomically modern humans) and that that takes us back at least 100,000 years.

Probably the very first walls, in the very first human enclosures, were boundary barriers. Initially there were probably nothing more than sticks and stones piled together to keep unwanted predators out. They enabled settlements. Without walls there would probably be no roofs. They developed in sophistication and in use of materials to keep unwanted weather out.

And the rest is history.

Without the security that walls provide there would be no settlements. Without boundary walls, cities would not have developed. Without settlements the agricultural revolution would not have taken place. Without cities and the specialisation they allow (and require), specialised buildings would not have appeared. Human technological and social development would not have occurred in the manner that it has. Walls were originally to keep unwanted things out. It was only later that they came to be used to keep things in.

Section of Hadrians wall near Carlisle

Section of Hadrians wall near Carlisle

In history walls have provided more “good” than “bad”.

The oldest walls found in existence so far are those of the temple of Gobekli Tepe in Urfa, southeast Turkey which date to 11,500 years ago. City walls, which became common for purposes of defense, are first seen around the city of Jericho (now in the West Bank) around the 10th century BCE and the Sumerian city of Uruk which was founded somewhat later (though both cities lay claim to the honor of `first city in the world’). The walls of Uruk were thought to have been built by the great king Gilgamesh upon which he inscribed his heroic deeds which formed the basis for the later epic he is most famous for. 


Hindus were eating beef for much longer than they haven’t been

October 26, 2015

For Hinduism, the cow is not an object of worship (it attracts no gods or goddesses) but it has become both a symbol (of what exactly?) and a taboo. In any urban environment, cows in India provide ready examples of how ill-fed and ill-nurtured they actually are. My grandmother was a strict – but quite normal – vegetarian (no fish, meat or eggs). Unlike the Jains she had no problem with dairy products or root vegetables or honey. I once tried to convince her that beef, coming from complete herbivores, was “more fundamentally vegetarian” than poultry, who were known to relish worms and insects when they were available. She was not amused. (She was not amused either by my arguments that whiskey was strictly vegetarian).

In the current political circus in India where all the ardent, self-styled Hindu fanatics (BJP, Shiv Sena, RSS, VHP ….) are castigating the eating of beef and all beef-eaters, they are attempting to rewrite a history which they conveniently forget. They have gone so far – and have fallen as low – as to justify the lynching of a Muslim for slaughtering and eating a cow.

Eating of beef only began to be discouraged when the Brahmins became significant land-owners and cattle-owners from about 500- 600 CE. The “general” ban on the killing of cows and the eating of beef by Hindus only goes back to about 1200 CE. Taking the roots of Hinduism as having first germinated at the time of the Indus-Saraswati Valley Civilisation, that would have been about 3,000 BCE (5,000 years ago). Which of course means that Hindus were eating beef for some 4,200 years while they have abstained from the practice for only about 800 years. As the practice of eating beef declined, cow-slaughter for religious sacrifice was increasingly restricted to very special and rare events. Inevitably the resulting beef was insufficient for all the multitude and so was reserved for just the most important Brahmins present. So the Brahmins were probably the last of the castes to give up the practice. Others couldn’t afford it anyway.

Holy Cow

Back in 2001, Professor D N Jha published “the best-kept secret in Indian history — the beef-eating habits of ancient Hindus, Buddhists and even early Jains” in his book Holy Cow—Beef in Indian Dietary Conditions. His scholarly work is probably the most definitive work ever on the subject. It is not available in India of course. A civil court in Hyderabad banned it. Some Government Ministers (BJP, who else) demanded ritualised book burnings. He was threatened and had to have police protection for a while. It was reprinted as the The Myth of the Holy Cow and can still be obtained – with some difficulty – outside India.

There were a few favourable reviews in 2001 and 2002 but generally his book was ignored by academia and kept hidden for fear of “hurting Hindu sensibilities” or of other reprisals. The Indian academic establishment is not known for its political bravery. Their views are incredibly supple and bend with whichever political wind is blowing strongest. Many of the reviews are still available on the internet but many from that time have been removed. Jha retired in 2007. Jha was a socialist and that has also been used as a stick to criticise his views on communalism and the BJP’s saffronisation program. But it seems to me that his arguments are generally correct on the subject of beef in Hindu history  As Outlook reported in 2002

“Old and tired out” Jha may call himself, but there’s something irrepressible about him. Bans and fatwas haven’t stopped him from beginning work on his next book. “It will be called,” says Jha with deadpan face, “Adulterous Gods and their Inebriated Women”.

A few quotes from his final chapter:

“Although Manu (200Bc – 200 AD) extols the virtue of ahimsa, he provides a list of creatures whose flesh was edible. He exempts the camel from being killed for food but does not grant this privilege to the cow.”

“The Mahabharata also makes a laudatory reference to the king Rantideva in whose kitchen, 2000 cows were butchered each day …. being distributed among the brahmanas.”

“Sita assures the Yamuna .. that she would worship the river with a 1000 cows and a hundred jars of wine when Rama accomplishes his vow.”


  1. The Hindu – Beef eating: strangulating history
  2. Outlook – A Brahmin’s Cow Tales
  3. The Guardian – One man’s beef …..

A few days ago the Wall Street Journal conducted an email interview with DN Jha.

The killing of an Indian Muslim man allegedly lynched last month by a Hindu mob who suspected him of having slaughtered and eaten a cow, has refocused attention on attitudes toward the animal in a constitutionally secular country with a Hindu majority.

Historian Dwijendra Narayan Jha, who has drawn fire from Hindu nationalists for writing that Hinduism hasn’t always regarded beef-eating as an offense, said the recent cow-related violence was part of a “dangerous trend of increasing intolerance  in the country.”

The former Delhi University professor, who is now retired, says he received death threats after the publication of a 2001 book about beef in Indians’ dietary traditions and based on ancient texts, “The Myth of the Holy Cow. 

In an email interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Jha discussed the emergence of the cow as a sacred animal and the politics of meat among conservative Hindus.

Mr. Jha: It was only in the early Christian centuries, around the middle of the first millennium A.D., that the Brahminical texts began to discourage and even disapprove of cow slaughter.

This change of attitude can be understood against the general background of the transformation of the rural society in post -Mauryan centuries, especially from around the middle of the first millennium A.D., which ushered in a phase of unprecedented agrarian expansion.  Brahmins emerged as  a feudal land owning class and, unlike in the earlier period, became more and more involved in agriculture. This led to the recognition of the pivotal role of animal husbandry, and the disapproval of killing of cattle by the Brahmins. All this is encapsulated in the concept of kali age in which many age-old  practices came to be  forbidden.  

WSJ: Is eating cow meat incompatible with Hinduism today?

Mr. Jha: There is substantial evidence in ancient Indian texts which testify to the prevalence of the practice of beef eating for many centuries in ancient India. The practice gradually disappeared in those regions, which are now called the “cow belt.” But it has continued in many other parts of the country, especially Kerala and north eastern states. In Kerala, 72 communities eat beef and many of them are Hindus. So, I would not say that beef eating is incompatible with Hinduism. But, at the same time there are many Hindus who would not even touch beef or even meat or fish.

What may be unacceptable to one set of Hindus may be acceptable to another. …..

The discouragement of cow-slaughter and the eating of beef was essentially an economic necessity of the time and had little to do with religion then. It came in when the value of a living cow far exceeded the value of a dead one, and when the wealth of the Brahmins was counted in cows. What easier way of maintaining their wealth than by introducing a regulation beneficial to themselves and justifying it on the grounds of the religion that they were the custodians of?

Europe’s refugees just follow the ancient routes for the peopling of Europe in the Neolithic

September 17, 2015

Compared to the population of Europe of 740 million (500 million in the EU), the total refugee numbers of some 400,000 are not large enough to talk about “invasions” or being “over-run”. (In the short-term numbers may, of course, be locally overwhelming). But the routes being travelled now are the same routes that were used for the peopling of Europe in the neolithic. Neanderthals probably retreated westwards as the hunter gatherers from central Asia arrived. They had been absorbed and were long gone as a separate “race” by the time the 2 main agricultural waves arrived.

And now the refugee numbers are beginning to be large enough to be a not insignificant impact on the populations of Europe. It could well be a new “peopling of Europe”. Or it could turn out to be not so large or important. But history will probably show that the migrations of peoples into Europe in the early 22nd century was of similar importance to the neolithic migrations. History will probably show that this  migration is what stemmed the downward population spiral that was troubling Europe.

In ancient times –

First came the movement of peoples westwards into Europe. This was during the paleolithic some 40,000 – 20,000 years ago with hunter-gatherers coming from the east. The “admixture” events between the Neanderthals and modern humans could have been along the westward moving front.

Then came the advent of agriculture, starting earlier but in earnest perhaps about 10,000 years ago. Genetic evidence indicates 2 waves of farmers from the east who then mixed with the hunter-gatherers already there.

So it would seem that hunter-gatherers mixed with farmers from the east who spread across Europe about 9,000 years ago. They formed the first agricultural settlements. Then came the invasion of the nomadic Yamnaya culture around 5,000 years ago. The Yamnayans were much more individualistic than the peoples they replaced and gave rise to the prominence of the nuclear family and the development of large family holdings of cleared lands, rather than the clusters of people in village settlements. They came on horses and brought livestock. But by about 4,000 years ago they too were overrun by the warlike Sintashta.

peopling of europe in the neolithic - via daily mail

peopling of europe in the neolithic – via daily mail

and now the current refugee crisis has about 400,000 people moving north westwards –

Business InsiderAccording to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), EU countries received 437,384 asylum applications from January to July. The UNHRC also reports that during that time, Germany was by far the country that received the most asylum applications, with 188,486. Hungary came second in place with 65,415 applications, and Sweden took third with 33,234 applications. Italy was fourth with 30,223, and France was fifth with 29,832 demands. Many refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war and ISIS have been entering the European Union through Greece — 258,365 refugees entered Greece by boat so far this year — after going through Turkey.

europe's refugee crisis - business insider graphics

europe’s refugee crisis – business insider graphics

Nothing new under the sun.

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