The Neolithic Revolution
Communist Gordon Childe (1892-1957) is widely considered the greatest archaeologist of all time. He lectured not only at the Universities, but also to the Young Communist League. He was involved in the Labour Movement for most of his life, so ‘historical dialectics’ certainly influenced his archaeological research. Yet academics do not consider his political influence a flaw of his science; on the contrary, his ideas about prehistory have outlived him, and today are championed by other famous and leading archaeologists with very different world views, such as Tory ‘lord’ Colin Renfrew.
Childe’s greatest work was on the Neolithic Revolution. This theory outlined how the discovery of farming kicked off a radical transformation of society around 9000 BCE in Mesopotamia. Prior to that, the hunter-gatherer nomadic lifestyle had been universal. Under agriculture, people did not need to spend all their time searching for food for the quantity was much greater, meaning that, unlike in hunter-gatherer times, not everybody needed to be involved in food sourcing.
Before and for some time following the Neolithic Revolution, men and women lived as equals. With the new novelty of free time both sexes were able to become specialist trades folk, or even religious figures. This opened a realm of opportunity for human achievement and technological development. The latter is, along with inter-class struggle, one of the two most important engines of the historical process which we should seek to learn from today. In that time society was still classless and peaceful and population levels remained small, though this would change.
Several factors combined to damage the progress and peaceful stability of the early Neolithic period. Agriculture became so successful that societies kept communal supplies of surplus grain and food, in case of emergencies. Emergencies would indeed come. Best practice in agriculture, such as the rotation of crops, had not yet been discovered. This led to the exhaustion of soils over and over again; to disease and famine. The disease affected people, animals, crops, and soils, but also society.
In times of famine, tribal groupings would fight to the death for the remaining rations. Attachment to place had become so great that they also fought over territory. Some individuals will have escaped this chaos by returning to the pre-Neolithic lifestyle. For most however, this was not a viable option because farming had allowed greater family sizes than hunting and gathering had, making the move back untenable for groups.
This was the turbulent context for villages growing into towns, cities and states; for hierarchies and the class system becoming consolidated and enforced by manipulative forms of religion. A chieftain would proclaim himself a god, and violently demand treatment as such. The literate class existed only to prop up the theocratic regime. Working-class and slave revolts occurred, but they were not acknowledged as human acts in the written annals; for only the gods could possess power. The workers and slaves spent much of the time building monuments on the god-king’s command. Manchester revolutionary Fredrich Engels (1820-1895) outlined ‘the world historical defeat of the female sex’ in this era, with women losing the equality previously enjoyed. This is mirrored in Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan’s (1947-Present) reading of the ancient texts, with the records of some earlier civilisations containing reference to numerous goddesses and female priests, but these numbers dwindling over time, with characters being killed off as religion developed. The parasitic elite of the priestly caste proclaimed this system to be the natural order. Yet clearly such a society was a manmade abomination, and an elaborate plot to maintain the status quo.
The Local Scene
Though there were several other fully independent Neolithic Revolutions in other parts of the world, the Neolithisation of Europe occurred through an exportation of the Middle Eastern system. Farming groups arrived in France around 5000 BCE. Due to the difficulty of transporting cattle and sheep over the English Channel in small coracle boats, the westwards spread halted for around 1000 years, reaching Britain and Ireland around 4000 BCE.
Megaliths were an occurrence on these islands from the earliest Neolithic period. These large stone monuments are here interpreted as monuments to a cult of mysticism and elitism; as a method of economic self interest by the parasitic elite, partially cloaked under a front of religious propaganda. Their construction would have diverted energies and resources towards solidifying the existing theocratic powers, and away from invention and innovation. The rulers would have been suspicious of technological advances, for change can disrupt the established economic arrangements and destabilise the social order – so it would have made more sense to keep the workers dragging about rocks and farming. However, during the construction process, labour could have resisted its oppressors, organised itself, sabotaged megalith construction, and asserted some control.
Unsurprisingly, these tightly controlled conservative areas were not receptive when the magic of metalworking began to trickle into these islands from around 2500 BC. This era is popular amongst fascists for several reasons. These include the shift in burial and ritualistic practices away from the Neolithic tradition of celebrating the community, and towards more individualistic observances; enough to satisfy any selfish fascist it would seem. However, socialists also ought to take interest in this era. Where the right fawns over excavated skeletons with their bronze bling and weaponry; the working class and the left can take a much more meaningful appreciation of the craftsmanship that went into the metalworking.
The earliest metalworking of these islands occurred in Co. Kerry, SW Ireland, where the high arsenic copper made for supreme quality artefacts. Copper sourced elsewhere in Ireland or Britain did not contain arsenic and was therefore much softer. This led to experimentation with alloying, around 2200 BCE. However, the tin resources were so scarce with only some in Cornwall, and the rest on the continent; that this industry spurned on profound long-distance connectivity throughout the Atlantic façade of Europe. Conservatives subscribe to the view that it is ‘great men’ who drive the course of history. However, it is argued by historical linguists that the industrial networks of the Bronze Age epoch brought about not only societal connectivity, but a major development in language; namely the emergence of Celtic languages. Fascists celebrate this timeless cultural heritage with a Poundland style flag of a nation which didn’t exist for another 3500 years. Preferring invasion, immigration and ethnic cleansing as drivers of the course of history, fascists tend to prefer a different theory for the origin of Celtic languages; one that has now been universally rejected by experts.
Fascists demonstrate an extremely servile attitude in their archaeological (mis)understandings. The parasitic elite of history is nothing to be proud of and nothing to aspire to. Brutes who raped out foremothers can only be heroes to deranged right wing fools. Fascists are petrified of a theory which proves that industrial workers drive the course of history, and therefore cling on to outdated rejected hypotheses of the 1800s. To we anti-fascists, archaeology is just a bit of fun; we already know from out parents and grandparents the power of organised labour, and we will work to see their like again.