A new geographical study on the ancient historical origins of human violence and warfare, drawing upon global archaeological and anthropological evidence, has just been published presenting substantial proof that our ancient ancestors were non-violent, and far more social and loving than are most humans today – moreover, the study points to a dramatic climate change in the Old World, the drying up of the vast Sahara and Asian Deserts, with attending famine, starvation and forced migrations which pushed the earliest humans into violent social patterns, a trauma from which we have not yet recovered in over 6000 years.
The study and book, titled SAHARASIA: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence, In the Deserts of the Old World, by retired professor James DeMeo, Ph.D., is the culmination of years of library and field research on the subject. Professor DeMeo undertook the original research as a 7-year dissertation project at the University of Kansas, which was concluded in 1986. He has since put an additional decade of research into the subject. His study is unusual in that it presents the first world maps of human behavior, as developed from large anthropological, historical and archaeological data bases. DeMeo’s findings were also recently presented at a regional meeting of the AAAS, in Grand Junction, Colorado.
“There is no clear or unambiguous evidence for warfare or social violence anywhere on planet Earth prior to around 4,000 BC and the earliest evidence appears in specific locations, from which it firstly arose, and diffused outward over time to infect nearly every corner of the globe.” says DeMeo, who today directs his own private institute in rural Oregon. “A massive climate change shook the ancient world, when approximately 6000 years ago vast areas of lush grassland and forest in the Old World began to quickly dry out and convert into harsh desert. The vast Sahara Desert, Arabian Desert, and the giant deserts of the Middle East and Central Asia simply did not exist prior to c.4000 BC” DeMeo asserts, pointing to numerous studies in paleoclimatology – the study of ancient climates. “Something happened around 4000 BC which forced the drying-out of this vast desert region, which I call Saharasia, and the drier conditions created social and emotional havoc among developing human agricultural societies in these same regions.”
DeMeo’s maps show spreading centers for the origins of patriarchal authoritarian cultures within this same Saharasian global region – male-dominated, child-abusive, sex-repressive cultures with a great emphasis upon war-making and empire-building. DeMeo points to the work of the controversial natural scientist Wilhelm Reich to explain the patterns.
The Trauma of starvation
“Famine and starvation is a severe trauma from which survivors rarely escape unscathed. A lot of people die, families are split apart, and babies and children are often abandoned, and suffer enormously. Starvation affects surviving children in an emotionally severe manner. They shrink from the exhausting heat and thirst, emotionally withdraw from the painful world, and simultaneously suffer a severe stunting of the entire brain and nervous system due to protein-calorie malnutrition. Even if such starved children later get all the food and water they want, they are deeply scarred in an emotional-neurological manner which forever changes their behavior – specifically, there is an implanted inhibition of any impulse of a pleasure-seeking, outward-reaching nature, and a discomfort with deeper forms of body-pleasure, in both maternal-infant or male-female expressions. Additionally, the child’s view of the mother, who could not protect or feed the child during the famine period, is thereafter colored with suspicion and anger. These attitudes and behaviors are deeply protoplasmic in nature, and are passed on to ensuing generations no matter what the climate, by social institutions which reflect the character structure of the average individual at any given period of time.”
As part of his project, DeMeo undertook a cross-cultural evaluation of Wilhelm Reich’s original ideas on human behavior. “Reich claimed humans became violent from two major causes: firstly from abusive and neglectful treatment of infants and children, and secondly from the repression of adolescent heterosexual feelings.” This latter consideration, DeMeo asserts, has gotten nearly no attention from specialists on child-abuse, given that our society still considers adolescent romance and pre-marital sex to be a bad thing. “Pre-marital, adolescent sexual romance is normal among the most peaceful cultures, but is always repressed in violent warlike cultures. It is an even more precise predictor of social and individual violence than is child-abuse.” Ideas such as these got Reich into hot water in the 1950s, DeMeo says, and his own work has similarly stirred up controversy.
Read more here.