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Conservapedia:World History Lecture One

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World History

First Lecture – Ancient History

Instructor, Andy Schlafly

Introduction to the Course[edit]

“World history” is the history of mankind. Nothing is off-limits. Every source is available to us, from the Bible to rock music. Everything mankind has ever written, invented, observed, and destroyed is part of “World history.”

"Come along now, come along. No shoving. Come on, come on! Sit down! NOW! Right, (cough cough) welcome homeskoulerz, to Professor Schlafly's course on World History. The history of human civilisation is rich and diverse, with many wondrous and captivating episodes. Unfortuanately, you will not learn of them in here, as most of them are devious lib'rul lies. Instead, you will learn the Conservapedian version of events, which is more whitewashed than Tom Sawyer's fence. This will in no way prepare you for the real world, and any passing resemblance to the actual events of world history is purely coincidental. Now, that said, let's get started. The Rapture will occur any second now, so we have to cram in as much half-baked crap as possible before Jesus comes back to give us all an arse-kicking. God is Love!! So without further ado, let us begin. With rock music."

Christ, we're off to a great start. Rock music? Really? That inimitable source of human history? Perhaps that's the reason so many people — especially in America — know so little of world history. Perhaps if contemporary historians wrote Babylonian social history using as an analytical framework the lyrics of Led Zeppelin, or narrated the history of medical philosophy with perpetual reference to Guns 'n' Roses, people would pay attention. But unsurprisingly, historians don't use rock music. Probably because historians are part of that vast lib'rul conspiracy. And anyway, isn't rock music an anti-conservative tool of the devil...?

Many of you have taken U.S. History, which is the story of the last 400 years in our overwhelmingly Christian country. World History is a different story: over 5000 years, much of it non-Christian. World History is not the same as Western Civilization, which consists of pre- and post-Christian Europe. World History includes Islam and Hinduism and all the forces that continue to shape our world to this day. U.S. History cannot explain 9/11, violence in the Middle East, or hostility between India and Pakistan. World history does. Notice how the "American History" tripe preceded "World History". Andy seems unaware that there is a world outside the United States, and that there was history before the Mayflower arrived off Plymouth Rock. The rest of this paragraph is a weird pastiche; we all know that history isn't the same as religious studies, or Samuel Huntington-esque polemics on "civilisation". But Andy obviously doesn't know this, hence his need to reference it. Oh, and what is "post-Christian Europe"? Does Andy think that there was some great atheist crusade to tear down the cathedrals, burn the Gutenberg Bibles, and erase all Biblical phraseology in favour of some sort of Orwellian Newspeak? Just because Europe is (thankfully) free of the slavering hordes of Bible-bashing fundamentalist nutjobs who plague the megachurches of the USA, it doesn't mean that Europe has been cleansed of Christianity. It's just that after two thousand years of war, genocide, Crusades, and Inquisitions, we no longer tolerate that kind of crap. Our version of Christianity is a little more… civilised.

I love World history for several reasons. The more we understand other religions the better we can deal with world conflicts. I also like studying the discovery of knowledge and great inventions. Do you know what civilization invented the wheel? Bread? Mathematics? Chocolate? Finally, the greatest military feats are found in World history, so if you like military history then you’ll love World history. Your challenge is to find what you like about World history, and then connect everything else to it. Find ways to relate World history to you, and enjoy it. Someone ought to inform Andy that "civilisation" is a concept. And a hotly contested one at that. Concepts don't invent anything. People do. Why has he veered off onto providing a grocery-list of random inventions? The purpose of learning history is not in order to cite random and irrelevant factoids (which Andy excels at) unless you are planning to make a career as a quiz programme contestant; it is to learn how and why our current civilisations are the way they are. And to read some fun stories along the way. Apparently not in Andy's world, though. This is supported by the standard of his "homework" questions, which seem to require no more skill than parroting mis-spelled right-wing propaganda, sprinkled liberally with irrelevant and incorrect statements. The standards are shockingly poor.

I like to learn how mankind progressed in understanding the unseen, such as truth and gravity and God. In mathematics, mankind progressed from the discovery of geometry (Greeks) to the concept of “zero” (Indians) to calculus (English). In economics, mankind progressed from wage and price controls (Romans) to the “invisible hand” of the free market (English), which then unleashed tremendous prosperity. Government progressed from rulers who claimed to be gods (Egyptians), to monarchies (Middle Ages), to constitutional republics (United States). What are we progressing towards now? Use history to predict the future. Again, "truth" is a concept, not an object.And it's highly subjective. It also appears that Andy is unaware that historians have long, long since abandoned this Whiggish "things get better with time" method of history. Which is also a searing refutation of his "we are all dumb and stupid today" thesis. Wage controls are recorded in the Code of Hammurabi, far predating the Romans. The concept of the free market is debatable, but appears to have arisen in 17th-century Holland. Constitutional republics emerged in Ancient Greece and Rome, not the USA. But it's entertaining how Andy covertly sleights rulers who considered themselves gods, given his own delusions of omniscience.

World history is also fascinating because there are many mysteries and controversies about it. How did the Egyptians build the pyramids? In what language did Jesus preach? Why did Islam grow so rapidly? Who was right, the Catholics or the Protestants? Is modern Israel a fulfillment of biblical prophecy? Is democracy compatible with Islam?

Ah, Andy's familiar "people were smarter in the days of yore" refrain, based on the idea that everything in Garden of Eden was perfect and it's all downhill from there. In fact, genetically we've changed very little in all of recorded history. What has changed is that nutrition has become a damn sight better in recent years. People who are reasonably well nourished during infancy and adolescence become smarter adults by a statistically significant number of IQ points.[1] In other words people are now smarter than they ever were before, and better still have a vast library of stored knowledge from which to work. Technological progress is an exponential curve. And if the purpose of Andy's lectures are simply to slag off Islam, justify the existence of Israel, and spout his own crude and heretical misinterpretation of Protestantism, the how is this going to be any different from his other piss-poor polemics? Undoubtedly, it won't be distinguishable in any way.

Also note Andy's latest work — "How to Piss Off those in the Building Trade, Volume One". In fact these things are trivial to duplicate with modern tools. With the use of lasers we can measure and level to accuracies far better than any seen in the ancient world. The astonishing part about the pyramids is that they were built with the tools available in the early Bronze Age. That we don't know exactly how the pyramids were built does not mean we can't produce a facsimile using modern tools, and indeed there has been a world of speculation as to the techniques used in their original construction. Wikipedia has a decent index to the theories and evidence for them.[2]

Do not be misled by thinking ancient peoples were dumb or boring because they lacked the technology of modern society. True, they lacked television and the internet. Does that mean it was boring or dull in 2500 B.C.? Not at all. The Egyptians, for example, cleverly built the massive pyramids using techniques that no one to this day can figure out or duplicate. In 2600 B.C., they constructed the pyramid of Khufu containing 6 million tons of stone extending to a height of 481 feet. The workmanship was superior to what we do today: the rock base was virtually perfectly flat, not varying in elevation by more than a half-inch; its orientation is precisely aligned with the points of a compass; its stones were perfect fits. Inside was a chapel, a causeway, and a temple. It amazes architects to this day. We would not be able to duplicate it even now. Many other cultures, from Mesopotamia to Greece to Rome to India to China, invented things and discovered knowledge that no one today is smart enough to duplicate. Do you know how to bake bread from scratch?

Oh dear. The funerary complex (riverside chapel to the Pharaoh, and sacred causeway leading to the pyramid itself) were outside. While the engineering is indeed remarkable, all that was really required was some simple mathematics, a few decades, and an army of workers willing to do their very best for their God-King (and some beer[3], in the knowledge that their work would grant them immortality with the Pharaoh. Not exactly something that baffles us today. And is this the best Andy can come up with? That for the vast majority of human history, there was no television or internet? Clearly he is trying to sound "cool" in front of his pubescent minions, but like all middle-aged, middle-class bigots who attempt this, he just comes across as cringingly terrible.

Oh, and most people in the world know how to make bread from scratch. Is Andy implying that he doesn't?

The feats of our ancestors are one part of the study of history. Also important are the clash of ideas, values, religions, systems of government and economies. Individuals, too, make a difference in extraordinary cases. One of many debates that we will have in this class is this: why did societies rise and fall in power? Andy must have overheard some real history while flicking through the channels for GodTV, and inserted his half-arsed interpretation here. We await with baited breath his insightful scholarly research on causation versus determinism, historicism and revisionism, postmodernist rejections of metanarratives, and historiography. But, undoubtedly, we are doomed to disappointment.

We will read and discuss societies that rose from nothing to enormous power, only to lose it and become weak again. Each time that happens, ask yourself why. Think about the unsolved mysteries of World history, such as why unrelated civilizations having no apparent connection with each other would do similar things, such as constructing ziggurats or pyramids. Isn't history supposed to be about things that actually happened? There is very little in the way of evidence that the "exodus" actually happened, or that any significant numbers of Judeans were ever kept as slaves in Egypt. This will inevitably crop up many times, but the Bible is not a reliable history, and should not be treated as such.

Just as you use reference points like landmarks to find your way, identify historical reference points to make it easier for you to organize the many hundreds of facts you will learn in this course. For example, the exodus of the Jews from Egypt is an excellent reference point for understanding the rise and fall of Egypt. The birth of Christ is another reference point that even our calendar uses to organize dates. Great. "Find reference points. Here's two. From a non-historical book. Neither of which happened except in the minds of fundamentalist creationists, and even they can't agree on dates". Brilliant.

Finally, let me add a few words about terminology. “B.C” means “Before (the birth of) Christ” and “A.D.” means Anno Domini (Latin for “in the year of our Lord”) or simply “After (the birth of) Christ.” The “1st century B.C.” means the 1st century before Christ, counting backwards, which are the years 100-1 B.C. The “5th century B.C.” is thus 500-401 B.C. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the 5th century B.C. is the 500s B.C.! Likewise, the 20th century (A.D.) was the years A.D. 1901-2000. Because A.D. means “in the year of our Lord,” the proper terminology is to put the date after the A.D., as in A.D. 2006. But school textbooks rarely use “B.C.” and “A.D.” correctly anymore, instead replacing them with an anti-Christian “BCE” for “Before the Common Era” and “CE” for “Common Era.” In other words, BCE = B.C. and CE = A.D. 

Introduction to Ancient History[edit]

Ancient history, which is everything before about A.D. 600, created or discovered all the major religions today except Islam. Ancient history created civilization and achieved many of the greatest intellectual breakthroughs of all time. Literature, drama, mathematics, philosophy, language, etc., were all created in ancient history. Now this is interesting. Why the year 600 as the cutoff point for what is arguably the arbitrary distinction between the Ancient and Medieval worlds? And what about the fact that this transition was largely confined to Europe alone? If the "fall" of the Roman Empire in Western Europe is taken as the transitional phase between Ancient and Medieval (as it usually is), then Conservapedia's own article gives a radically different answer. Maybe Andy ought to read his own blog from time to time.

When did mankind first begin? There is no reliable evidence of man existing before 3500 B.C. The oldest writing is a pictographic tablet called a “cuneiform” dated to about 3400 B.C. from Sumer (SOO-mur) in Southern Mesopotamia (where Iraq is today). These cuneiforms look like chicken-scratches featuring wedge-like or arrow-shaped characters. The oldest western-style script is from the Indo-Aryan language, and one dated to 1550 B.C. was found in the Sinai. The oldest verified civilization dates to about 3000 B.C. We can also extrapolate backwards from modern populations to estimate that only about 300 million people existed in the world at the time of Christ, and extrapolating backwards further yields only one family in the year 3300 B.C. Languages can be traced backwards to about 3000 B.C., and some experts reconstruct a point of origin in southeastern Europe near the Black Sea, not far from the Ararat mountain range cited in the Bible in connection with Noah. Old trees never predate this time either; the oldest sequoias, which never die of old age, are only 4000 years old.

Oh Christ. "No reliable evidence of man existing before 3500 B.C.". I could laugh, I could weep...

On a side note, it is worth pointing out that Young Earth Creationism posits that the world was created in 4004 BC, not 3500 BC. How do we know? Well as all sane citizens are aware, the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of the Lord (which Lord, we're not quite sure, but we'll get back to you on that). Let's build upon that premise. In 1648, Archbishop James Ussher painstakingly plodded backwards through the mind-numbing geneaologies of the Bible and calculated - based only on the Bible - that Creation occured in 4004 BC. Yet Andy claims there is no record of Man's existence before 3500 BC. This wouldn't be a problem, if we accepted that Adam and Eve couldn't write. Yet Andy later tells us that Prehistory didn't exist, thus implying that Adam had a diary. So, let's recap. The world was created in 4004 BC, people started writing straight away, and yet the first 504 years of human history are absent from the historical record. Ok, Andy says that people back then were smarter than us; but unless they were so sophisticated that they stored their records digitally, it is extremely unlikely that all of their written records over fifteen centuries would have completely ceased to exist. So, Andy's hypothesis is a big, fat, FAIL.

Isn't the very fact that people had things to write about as soon as they invented writing evidence that they had existed for a while? Ignoring all the artefacts, geophysical evidence and written histories does not constitute a lack of evidence. To believe that man sprang immediately from creation to the rudiments of civilisation borders on the insane. There may be some rationale for disputing cladistic taxonomy over the millions of years time scale, since dating methods on that scale can be subject to rational dispute. However, if we're talking about only a few thousand years, radioisotope dating methods work fine thanks.

Cuneiform is the script, not the object upon which the language is written. That's like calling a piece of paper "a latin". Moron. Calculating the human population two thousand years ago is extraordinarily difficult; estimates range between 150-300 million. And is Andy really claiming that there was only ONE family? Rather than ridicule this horseshit, perhaps it would be easier to state that it is morally abhorrent. If Andy is right, then that one family (presumably Noah's) would have propagated the species by round-the-clock incest. That's right ladies and gentlemen; according to the perfect, happy Bible, we are all the result of a vast family gangbang.

Sequoias aren't the oldest living organism. We know of several trees that have been living trees far older than this date. Pines in Australia, for example. Indeed, in the news a few years ago was the discovery of a 9,500 year old spruce in Sweden. [4] And this is only the organisms still living! No, Andy, fossils weren't all created in great deluge.

No “civilization” has been found that is older than about 3000 B.C. By “civilization” we mean order and hierarchy in the way of life. Some type of political system or government is usually necessary to have a civilization. A structure similar to a city or town is necessary to bring together people, jobs, buildings or religious centers. Usually there are different classes of people, such as rich and poor. Careful, Andy. This is dangerously close to a Marxist interpretation of history. Keep this statement that "No “civilization” has been found that is older than about 3000 B.C." in mind, because later on Andy will tell us that Ancient Egypt far predates this date. Which is true. Don't expect much from these lectures, but do expect inconsistency.

Some historians say there must be an agricultural surplus also: enough food to feed the people so that some workers could spend time in jobs other than farming. In a nutshell, a civilization must have cities, skilled (non-farming) workers, social and government institutions, writing to maintain records such as property ownership, and advanced technology. Memorize the oldest dates for the ancient civilizations: [The response from Ironclad is lacking for this section] ScepticWombat (talk) 14:40, 25 March 2018 (UTC)

NameTime of existence
Mesopotamia (Mes-uh-puh-tay-mee-uh)3500 – 500 B.C., when conquered by Persia
Egypt 3100 – 525 B.C., when conquered by the Hyksos (HIK-sohs)
Indus (IN-dus) Valley:beginning in 2900 B.C.
China:beginning in 2200 B.C.
Mexican Olmec (AWL-mek): 1200 – 300 B.C., the earliest known American civilization
Peru (South America): 900 B.C.
History books speculate at length about “prehistory”, which predates writing. But there is no reliable evidence to support this speculation, and not worth spending time on. There is no reason to think that man existed for thousands of years without ever expressing himself in written form.

Oh really? Even the Biblical version of history has prehistory. After all, God didn't give Adam a pen and paper, hammer and chisel, nor even a stick and some sand. And at no point in Genesis does God tell Adam, "Thou shalt record everything that thou doth." In fact there is no mention in the Bible of actually writing things down, until Exodus 34:1, when god writes down the Ten Commandments (by the way, there are two sets of Ten Commandments; in Exodus 20 and Exodus 21 respectively. The second - and thereby, more up-to-date - set is completely ignored by modern Christians). So if we are to take the Bible literally, and assume that writing did not exist before the end of the Bookd of Exodus, then everything that happened before it, is prehistory!

NB: Andy's table template includes the (hidden) instruction "Please don't delete the table, I worked on it hard". Maybe if he'd worked as hard by actually opening a book, this lecture would be less of a car crash.

But in case you are asked, historians describe the period of time known as “prehistory” as the “Stone Age.” They divide the Stone Age into two time periods: “Paleolithic” and “Neolithic”. The Paleolithic Age is older, when man relied mostly on hunting and picking nuts and fruit to supplement his diet. The Paleolithic Age was followed by the Neolithic Age, which consisted of the rise of agriculture. The “Neolithic Revolution” means the “Agricultural Revolution,” when farming became dominant. The dates of these ages are controversial, and historians have a bias for giving them older dates than proven by archaeology. Not to mention that when historians talk about the Agricultural Revolution, they are referring to the phenomena of eighteenth-century England (and later, Europe): enclosures of common ground, seed drilling, selective breeding. NOT the Neolithic emergence of rudimentary crop-growing and animal husbandry. But hey, so long as Andy can make a vague approximation of historical terms, wrap it up with an instruction to suspect trained historians, and snipe at archeaologists, that's all that hiz homzkoolerz need to know...

After the Stone Age came the Bronze Age, beginning in 3500 B.C., when copper and/or bronze tools were used. That was followed by the Iron Age, which began in Turkey around 2200 B.C. and later spread to other regions. As its name suggests, it used iron for tools. Ancient civilizations are often called “classical civilizations,” particularly when they produce intellectual advances as Ancient Greece did. Phrases like “Classical Indian Civilization” refer to Ancient India, which lasted from 300 B.C. to A.D. 500. This is all over the place. We jump from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, then to Turkey, then to Greece and India. Andy clearly has a problem with sticking to the topic.

Two of the oldest towns were the biblical town of Jericho, located in Palestine, and Catal Huyuk, located in modern-day Turkey. Jericho was famous for its high city walls to protect against attack. Points off for not using proper orthography. The name is Çatalhöyük. Copy-and-pasting is remarkably easy, Andy. And it looks so much better with proper letters.

The ancient world is the source of the most basic aspects of life, such as the seven-day week and marriage. The Bible remains the best explanation for both, and many other aspects of the ancient world. All four civilizations discussed in this lecture arose in or near what we now call the “Middle East.” The seven-day week emerged independently in civilisations which had no contact with or knowledge of each other, and at different points in time. It's also far from universal - as recently as the 1790s, France reverted to a ten-day week. Marriage is so diverse among human societies that we may not even recognise events, relationships, institutions, and social norms as what we would call "marriage". That should be pretty obvious, even to Andy. Also, it's not universal. The Etoro people of Papua New Guinea, for example, structure their society in such a way that males and females live in completely separate villages, practising ritualised homosexuality. They meet up twice a year - once to have sex, once to exchange babies — and each gender raises its young in complete ignorance of there being another gender until they are old enough to reproduce. If that is too strange, consider that many societies in history — and today — practice polygamy, which appears throughout the Bible as well. Andy's narrow, Christian interpretation of "one man, one woman, before the eyes of God, for life", is restricted and historically marginal compared to the infinite ways of structuring social relationships. But, in what is sure to become a constant throughout these classes, Andy casually ignores the non-white, non-Christian, non-American world in order to focus on his bigoted little vision of how the world should behave.

Mesopotamia[edit]

So where did civilization begin? In a region known as Mesopotamia, which is Greek for “land between the rivers.” The “rivers” are the Tigris and Euphrates, located in Western Asia. Where, exactly? Basically, in fertile areas of Iraq northeast of the desert, known as part of the “Fertile Crescent” that extends along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea (including modern Israel, Lebanon and Syria) and the fertile valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that run southeast into the Persian Gulf. These rivers deposited silt in the surrounding land, creating rich alluvial soil. Today the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are not far from the location of our soldiers in Iraq. However, our soldiers are mostly pictured in sandy areas, while the ancient people would have stayed close to the water. Moreover, ancient floods would have changed the landscape over time. That's right, children. Physical geography is best explained by reference to contemporary military operations. Where's Ambrose Bierce when you need him? "War is god's way of teaching Americans geography". But, we should be fair. Considering that Andy's homskuled audience is cartographically illiterate, that globes are obvious lies disputing the Biblical truth of a Flat Earth, and that the world beond the USA is a savage, nightmarish hellscape of communism and kitten-raping, it's not surprising that he makes so asinine a comment.

Genesis 2:8-17 (NAS) describes the beginning in Mesopotamia as follows: “The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. … Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. ... The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” Using the ages mentioned in the Bible and counting backwards, biblical scholars have dated this as about 6000 years ago, or about 4000 B.C. This is about 500 years before our earliest record of ancient writings. Ouch. In the previous segment, Andy confidently proclaimed that there was no such thing as "prehistory". Now he says there was. Apparently those grand ancient civilisations of the antediluvian world (see, Andy? Big words are fun) didn't bother to write anything down. They apparently managed to piss off God so much that he flooded the entire planet, but they were completely incapable of writing grocery lists. Also, it would have been nice to at least make passing mention to Archbishop James Ussher, the seventeenth-century theologian who spent all those long, cold evenings backtracking through the coma-inducing geneaologies of the Bible to calculate his creation chronology. At least Ussher was working within the confines of his own time, trying to genuinely expand the sum total of human knowledge. Andy is not only a prick for perpetuating this bullshit four centuries later, but additionally for not even giving credit to the poor chap who toiled to create it.

In the fourth millennium before Christ, between about 3500 and 3000 B.C., two things happened: writing was invented and cities began to sprout up with their own political and economic systems. Both of these developments occurred in southern Mesopotamia. This was known as Sumer, and the occupants were the Sumerians. It's remarkable that Andy hasn't bothered to cram in the Book of Genesis in its entirety. Where are the references to Peleg and Japeth, Cain and Able, Seth, and all the other exciting characters from the world's oldest book of bedtime stories? The Patriarchs apparently don't fit in to Saint Schlafly's version of history. How curious...

We owe a great deal to the work of the Sumerians. They developed the first system of writing (the cuneiform), the first codes of law and the first “city-state” (essentially a nation consisting only of a large city). Their inventions were marvelous: the seed plow, the sailboat, and the potter’s wheel. (Distinguish “cuneiforms” from “ideograms”, which show ideas with symbols such as arrows for war, from “phonograms”, in which symbols represent sounds). Another item to add to the list of Andy's omniscient expertise - paleography. Also, the sailing boat and the plough (notice the use of British English spelling, Conservapedians) are inventions from the Neolithic Era. They far predate the Bronze Age.

Most workers in Mesopotamia were farmers, but some devoted their time to trade. They had a calendar based on the moon to aid the farmers, and they developed a mathematical system using base 12. They were marvelous inventors, creating complex systems of irrigation and discovering the plow, the cart and the wheel, and used bronze (a mixture of copper and tin) to make good farming tools. Both men and women owned private property, had slaves, and were ruled by a king. An interesting juxtaposition. Private property, as we all know, is one of Andy's most sacred relics. Hence his crude shoehorning-in of a conservative principle. But alongside a fawning, fluttering-eyelash admonition of slavery and monarchy? It's doubtful that Andy's twin heros - Abraham Lincoln and George Washington - would look too kindly upon these concepts. Oh, and a fun Bible verse for all those conservative fundamentalists - in Deuteronomy 17:15, God says "Be sure to appoint a King over you". So all those Republican fanatics over at Conservapedia are really, really pissing God off. God hates Republicans! He demands a King of the United States! Preferably not Andy, though.

They built cities known as Eridu, Lagash, Ur, Uruk, Isin, Kish, just to name a few. They were smart, and developed Akkadian as their language. One interesting aspect of Akkadian is that it lacks any tense forms such as past or future tense. The verbs expressed the manner of an action rather than its time. Does intelligence determine peoples' choice of language? The Sumerians didn't choose any language; contrary to what Andy claims, they actually spoke Sumerian, a completely unrelated language which developed over time to suit their needs. Akkadian was spoken by the Akkadians, who under Sargon the Great conquered Sumer some time in the late third millennium BCE. Akkadian was adopted by merchants and diplomats thoughout the Akkadian Empire as a lingua franca because that's what the dominant culture spoke. Also, at around the same time, many Akkadians who had reason to travel become fluent in Sumerian; bear that in mind in lecture 2, when Andy starts babbling about how weaker langauges can't withstant stronger ones. Andy makes an interesting observation here about verbiage, but predictably, fails to back up his irrelevant factoid with any evidence whatsoever.

By 3000 B.C. the people had built major canals to channel water, and roads on which to travel. Shepherds had dogs to help them tend the sheep, just as we use today to help herd sheep together. Each city was surrounded by a moat and a wall of brick, with as many as 900 towers inside the city. Soldiers watched entry back and forth, and chariots and wagons carried people and goods within the city. By 3000 B.C. mankind had already built a mini-version of Manhattan, without the automobile and steel skyscrapers. But Mesopotamia (unlike Egypt and China) was not protected by geography, and would constantly face invasion by foreigners. Chariots, the exclusive property of kings, were used as war vehicles. They were driven around enemy infantry so that mounted archers could fire arrows, and were so fragile they had to be dismantled and carried on foot to the battlefield. They were certainly not used as everyday transport. And "a mini-version of Manhattan". Really? Turn off The Flintstones, Andy.

Do not think there was anything primitive about these ancient cities. They had shipping, fishing, brewers and bakers. They spun wool and traded fine jewelry. They discovered the Pythagorean Theorem, though it was later named after a Greek. In 2500 B.C., the queen of Ur, which was a prominent city, lived in a palace that featured harps and many servants. Slavery existed, but it was typically confined to domestic work in the cities rather than hard labor on the farm. Slaves were given a minimum standard of living and often had the opportunity to rise to freedom through diligent work.

Oh dear. In one fell swoop, Andy condones slavery, commits the cardinal sin of historians - Presentism - and as usual gets it all so wrong it's difficult to know where to begin.

Well, here's a start. Presentism. Presentism, roughly, is the logical fallacy that people in the past thought of things in the same way that we do today. For example, historians talk about the Ancient Egyptian economy, yet the Ancient Egyptians themselves didn't have the concept of an economy. It also relates to peoples' knowledge of the past. We know today, for example, the names of pretty much all the Pharaohs. But the Egyptians themselves only knew the names of the current Pharaoh, the one or two before him, and the handful whose names had remained preserved in folk tales. The point is - just because we have knowledge doesn't mean they had the same knowledge, and we should be very, very careful about applying modern concepts on the past. Like slavery.

Defining slavery in the context of the ancient world is difficult enough, as the overwhelming majority of people were subsistence farmers performing backbreaking physical labour from dawn to dusk, with practically no rights whatsoever. This was not the era of Rousseau's Social Contract in which people create a state apparatus to protect them from themselves: this was a harsh time of extremely fluid identities wherein peasants in one kingdom were ethnically, linguistically, and culturally indistinguishable from peasants in a rival realm. The result was that kings largely couldn't care less about protecting their people through legislation or military action. Crowbarring in a reference to self-improvement through hard work is a gross anachronism. Manumission (the technical term) did exist in Roman law, much later than Babylonian law, but even then was only a sop to the masses. And in societies including (but not limited to) Ancient Greece and Babylon, slaves were routinely tortured when giving legal testimony, production reports, or just for fun. With no legal interest whatsoever. Slaves - if we can define them as such - remained slaves. End of.

Temples were everywhere. But the people also built stepped mountains known as ziggurats, with a temple on top, and the Bible tells how they tried to build one higher and higher. A massive ziggurat at Ur that is described in Genesis 11:1-9 as the Tower of Babel led to hundreds of different languages in the world. As we shall learn in this course, language is a central part of a society that has much to do with its success or failure. Societies with useful languages prospered; those with difficult-to-use languages failed.

Interesting. Especially as, later on, Andy writes about the difficulty of the Egyptian writing system. How then does the remarkable longevity of that civilisation - or the ancient Chinese, for that matter - fit into his little thesis? He also seems to overlook the rather obvious fact that in the ancient world (and the modern, too) most people were polyglot, and the illiterate ordinary folk would not speak the same language as the elite. Andy really could benefit from a night school in a foreign language.

Oh, and the Bible does not tell us that the Sumerians tried to build a huge ziggurat. After all, it's called the Tower of Babel, not the Ziggurat of Babel. Maybe if Andy spent more time reading either real history or the real Bible, rather than lying outright in a pathetic attempt to cram Scripture and real history together like unmatched jigsaw pieces, he might actually come across some useful things to talk about. Like the Dead Sea Scrolls. Which confirm that some Biblical events did actually happen. Why haven't they been mentioned yet? Oh right, they're not part of Andy's blasphemous Bible rewrite...

Genesis Chapter 10 places the roots of modern mankind in Noah and his three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. The term “Semitic” means “pertaining to the descendants of Shem,” and includes Assyrians, Chaldeans, Aramaeans, Sabaeans, and Hebrews (now known as Jews). Semitic languages include Hebrew and Arabic. Semitic religions include Judaism, Christianity and Islam. One of Noah’s descendants was Abram, who later changed his name as Abraham to reflect his covenant with God.

What has this got to do with the narrative? Also, notice Andy's conservative political correctness in declining to mention that for centuries, Christians used the "curse of Ham" story in Genesis to justify the enslavement and segregation of black people. Conservative deceit, anyone?

Also this is disingenuous, if not an outright lie. What the cited book actually claims is that there was a very real flood, around 5600 BC that turned a previously fertile area around the Black Sea into infertile salt flats. This had the side effect of destroying local human settlements and enshrining the disaster in local folktales. Nowhere do the authors ever claim that this flood was the wrath of God, or that it covered the entire world. These sorts of statements would be career-ending nonsense. The snippet which Schlafly pulls from the book is quote mining at its best, and suggests he has never read it or has the slightest clue about its contents. How unsurprising.

Both the Bible and many independent sources describe a Great Flood (or “Deluge”), which historians date at about 3000 B.C. Very little of any history, including writings and civilization, has survived from before that time. The biblical account of the Flood is at Genesis 5-8, describing an ark having reasonable dimensions similar to modern ocean steamships. Apparently Andy's version of "modern" pertains to the late nineteenth century. When did any of you last see a steamship, except in a history book or a flickering sepia film roll? As for the Ark, there's little point trying to refute it. If you genuinely believe that eight people, using Bronze Age technology, could build a wooden ship capable of sustaining millions of land-based lifeforms for nearly a year, then emerge on a lifeless planet (all fish, insects, plants, and bacteria killed in the flood, of course) and engage in huge incestuous, inter-generational humpfests to repopulate the world, then you should be locked up in a padded cell.

A non-biblical Sumerian (from Sumer in Mesopotamia) account of the Flood was found in the last hundred years, and that account was apparently written about 1600 B.C. Even better, a cuneiform tablet from Babylon was found dating from 3000 B.C., which also described a massive flood in great detail. There are many other ancient accounts of a massive flood found in most other cultures around the world. Fossils and limestone (the result of ocean sediment) are found today on mountaintops and land worldwide at all altitudes. Independent accounts of a great flood can be found in ancient works of China, India, Britain (Druid) and American Indians, all having striking similar details. See, e.g., http://www.searchgodsword.org/enc/isb/view.cgi?number=T2631 .

Recently two scientists at Columbia University published a widely praised book that which proved that the Flood did occur, entitled “Noah’s Flood,” which concludes that the biblical Flood “is surely a true story of the permanent destruction of a land and its people ….” (p. 251). Yet no public school textbook ever mentions a massive flood.

The reason no school textbook in the real world talks about an actual Biblical deluge, is because it never bloody happened. The whole story is scientifically impossible, historically unverified, and philosophically pointless (why would an omnipotent god go to the trouble of devising such a contrived, long-winded, and fiddly scheme when he could have just snapped his fingers and reset the world to factory settings?.

There are indeed flood legends in diverse cultures, but not because they all experienced the same flood. Floods are pretty common events across the globe, and in addition to their physical existence, floods are potent metaphors for cleansing, renewing, etc. Note that Andy mentions legends, tales, and all sorts of misinterpreted physical evidence, but the best evidence he can come up with is some pissy little website with an amateurish layout. He doesn't even cite the authors and publisher of the book he mentions. Pathetic

The conflict between the Hebrew (Jewish) and Arab peoples in the Middle East and throughout the world is described by some as a family feud. They are descended from the same father, Abraham, as described in Genesis 16. But Jewish and Arab peoples trace their lineage from different sons of Abraham who were rivals for their father’s love. Jewish people claim to be descendants of Isaac, the child of Abraham and Sarah, while Arabs are descended from Ishmael, the son of Abraham (then Abram) and the Egyptian woman Hagar. The Old Testament teaches that Abraham offered to sacrifice Isaac to the Lord, while Islam teaches that Abraham’s sacrifice was of Ishmael. Islam teaches that Ishmael helped Abraham build a mosque in Mecca (the venerated Kaaba), and that it was Ishmael (rather than Isaac) who was nearly sacrificed. Regardless, Ishmael went a different way from the rest of Abraham’s family, and there have been hard feelings by Ishmael’s descendants ever since. Andy's version of cultural sensitivity. Reduce the complexities of modern geopolitical and cultural dialectics to a single mythological tale, and pass off civilisation-scale discontent as "hard feelings". Bravo.

Civilization quickly prospered in Sumeria, the northwest (Akkad) was constantly fighting the southeast (Sumer), and eventually an Akkadian warrior named Sargon conquered Mesopotamia. Sargon was the first person in recorded history to create an empire or multi-ethnic state, from 2334 to 2279 B.C. His empire included the region of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and also part of what is Turkey today. The capital of his empire was Agade in Akkad. But like many military rulers, his empire collapsed when he died. He did not have a civil (non-military) form of government to pay his soldiers and sustain his empire. Instead, he could only survive as long his soldiers continued to capture and loot. Once the empire stopped expanded upon his death, it collapsed. After Sargon’s death, the city of Ur in Sumer was the leading city. Oh! I have an entire PhD chapter on Sargon of Akkad. Exactly what form of geopolity he constructed is hotly debated, as is the archeological and documentary evidence from that era. Strange, then, that when my supervisory team made their recommended edits they didn't point me to Andy's thumbnail sketch of imperial genesis. Evidently, this man knows all!

In sum, the Sumerians established many of the things that define civilization today: buildings, engineering, legal codes, written language and a military. The Sumerians also had literature: in 2000 B.C., they wrote “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” considered to be oldest fictional story ever written. It was based on a real person, however, who ruled a city-state in Sumer. He struggles with religious issues in the form of multiple gods, and the story seems to draw on some of the wisdom of the Bible. This non-biblical source also describes a great flood. Ah yes, the Epic of Gilgamesh. Predates Genesis by, ooh, a few centuries at least. Maybe over a millennium. But of course, the people who cobbled together Genesis wouldn't have dreamed of plagiarising it. Would they...?

Inventions: We can thank Mesopotamia (probably Ur) for inventing the wheel in about 3500 B.C., which is the single greatest invention of all time. It is used for much more than transportation. The wheel is essential to manufacturing and even pre-digital watches. No American civilization had the wheel until the Europeans brought it to them. And in what is probably going to be a trademark of Andy's style, this section ends with a sequence of strange non-sequiturs and irrelevant factoids. What defines "the greatest invention of all time"? One historian might argue that it is the stirrup, which precipitated the fall of the Roman Empire. Another may proclaim antibiotics and anaesthetics, while another might argue it was the printing press. Personally I'd say it is the flushing toilet. The point is; it's all a matter of subjective opinion. Isn't Andy trying to encourage free thinking and open-mindedness? Making such bold assertions and then, in faithful style, ranting against anyone who disagrees with his arbitrary choice of the wheel, is hardly conducive to good learning. But then, what in these lectures is...

Babylon[edit]

Babylonia was a relatively late achiever in the Mesopotamian world, occupying southern Mesopotamia where Sumer was. Babylonia apparently did not exist before about 2300 B.C. Babylon was its main city, located about 55 miles south of Baghdad today in Iraq. It is now in ruins but thousands of years ago was a thriving city known for its “Hanging Gardens of Babylon,” which were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Babylon was known as a city devoted to materialism and personal pleasure. As an example of usage, the English author G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “the Babylonian halls of the big hotel.” Oh brilliant, Andy. You did a search-engine quest for quotes on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the best you could come up with is an uncited snippet from GK Chesterton? Also, notice how he doesn't say what the other six Wonders were (nor does he mention that the Hanging Gardens were only mentioned by Greek sources of dubious reliability, and are completely absent from any Babylonian records). And finally, Babylon was hardly a "late achiever". It is mentioned in Egyptian records from the Old Kingdom, and is practically antique compared to the later Sassanid and Achmaenid civilisations in the area. Try and keep up, Andy.

As a city Babylon was smaller and less important than Ur, which enjoyed several dynasties. But the constant fighting led to the fall of the 3rd dynasty of Ur, and an Amorite king named Sumuabum established a kingdom in 1894 B.C. there. His successors built it up, and then a brilliant ruler name Hammurabi took power as the sixth king of Babylon from 1792 to 1750 B.C. (That is over forty years: there were no term limits then!). We English have a lovely phrase for things like this. "No shit, Sherlock." Kings don't have term limits, Andy. Even a Conservapedian should be aware of that.

The reign of Hammurabi signaled the end of the early Mesopotamian civilization. He created a system of justice by promulgating an elaborate code of law (the Code of Hammurabi, or Hammurabi’s Code). The code imposed harsh punishment of “an eye for an eye,” and lower classes of people received harsher punishment than higher classes of people. If you broke the bone of a “free man” (non-slave), then the punishment was to break one of your bones. That was simple and effective, and the Old Testament uses a similar approach in some ways (who used this first?). The Eighth Commandment in the Old Testament states, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Hammurabi’s Code states if someone accuses another of doing something wrong, but cannot prove it, then the accuser shall be killed. Forgive me if I fail to see how the codification of a legal system heralds the doom of a society. It seems more like the stabilisation and consolidation of a complex and organised state structure. Hammurabi's code is indeed simple, and unpleasantly so. Andy fails to mention articles of law such as: if a house collapsed and killed the occupant's child, the architect's child would be killed; if a doctor failed to cure a patient and the patient died, the doctor would be killed; and (as mentioned previously), the testimony of slaves in court was only admissable if the slave had first been tortured close to death. Certainly "eye for an eye". Yet remember those sage words - "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind".

But Hammurabi attempted to be righteous and much of his correspondence survives to this day. He encouraged legal contracts, but he also limited the amount of interest and wages that could be earned. After 29 years of establishing order, he then conquered all of Mesopotamia, making him the first king of the Babylonian Empire. To this day Hammurabi is respected by historians as a great leader who achieved an enormous amount for all of mankind. Andy might respect this paragon of an Old Testament patriarch, but real historians take a more mixed view, seeing Hammurabi as either a bloodthirsty tyrant, a product of his own time who cannot be subjected to the same self-righteousness that we apply to contemporaries, or as a vague figure whose reality is inextricable from myth. Furthermore, in what way did Hammurabi "achieve an enormous amount for all of mankind"? An enormous amount of what? And considering that Hammurabi was utterly unknown outside of Mesopotomia, it seems a bit of a stretch to claim that the Chinese, or the Australian Aborigines, or the Khoi-San, were greatly influenced by a man continents away.

Chaos resulted when he died, however. The Hittites (HIT-eyets) were Indo-Europeans who migrated into Anatolia (now Turkey). The Hittites were famous for bringing iron smelting to many other groups, and using the superior iron weapons and tools. They attacked and weakened the Babylonian empire, ultimately defeating it in 1600 B.C. The Kassites, led by king Agumkakrine, then took advantage of situation and grabbed power. But they continued to honor the Code of Hammurabi during their 400 year rule of the territory. Notice how Andy doesn't say where the Hittites migrated from. Probably because he just wants to covertly bitch about immigrants. Oh, and the image of the Hittites being great users of iron is entirely unfounded. It was a popular claim among nineteenth-century Egyptologists and Syriologists, who claimed that the Hittites rose to power quickly, because they used hard iron against the soft bronze weapons of their rivals. Yet metallurgists have analysed Hittite swords and recreated them using know Hittite techniques, with surprising results. Contrary to the blades being so strong they would slash through bronze, Hittite iron was so brittle that weapons would shatter on impact. Indeed the Hittites only used iron for ceremonial weapons and their soldiers, like everyone else, fought with bronze. Points off, Andy, for using a nineteenth-century theory. And cocking it up.

In 1124 B.C. the first Nebuchadnezzar rose to power over the Babylonian empire. He moved its capital to Babylon, then the world’s largest city. Its spanned 10,000 hectares, which is slightly larger than San Francisco today. What? Why the reference to San Francisco? Well at least ANdy refrained from making a comment about "the gays".

The Babylonian empire acquired great power, and power corrupts. Eventually it turned against religion. That ultimately occurred in 598 through 586 B.C., but we have to build up to that first. Yeah. All of those temples and ziggurats, that complex priesthood with its hierarchies and festivals, and that pesky 365-day calendar with its 24-hour days and 60-minute hours, all for religious purposes; all that really shows just how foaming-at-the-mouth atheistic those Babylonians were...

Much of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, is written with references to Babylon. The main reason is that Babylon rose to enormous power and captured the Hebrews, and held them in captivity. This is known as the Babylonian Exile or Babylonian Captivity. Andy doesn't actually bother to reference the Bible. If he's going to cram it in at every other sentence, why is he so afraid to actually cite the thing? Either Andy is waiting so he can later cite from his Blasphemer's Bible Mk.I, or he hasn't actually read the Bible. The latter seems more plausible.

Israel[edit]

While the Kassites were in control of Babylon, the oldest formed religion still active in the world began: Judaism. You must be kidding me. Hundreds of thousands of people believe in shamanism, which is-sorry, Andy!-at least 10,000 years old. If Andy thinks shamanism is 'primitive' and won't accept it, Hinduism is approximately the same age as Judaism. But hey, this segment should be fun. One can almost sense Andy bursting with the need to type "JEWS KILLED JEEZUS!!!" over and over with caps lock duct-taped down. Let's see...

Descendents of Abraham, who lived in Ur around 2000 B.C., the Hebrews migrated away from Ur in Mesopotamia to Palestine, where they resided in about 1500 B.C. But they migrated over to Egypt to escape a bad famine. There they generally served as slaves for over 400 years, though they undoubtedly contributed greatly to the intellectual progress of the Egyptian culture. And the epic fails begin already. As mentioned above, it is very difficult to identify slaves in the ancient world, seeing as the overwhelming majority of the human population were indistinguishable from slaves anyway. But Egypt is a special example. Debate rages among Egyptologists about the nature of slavery in Egypt, and indeed whether slavery even existed at all. For an ancient people, the Egyptians were remarkably homogenuous both ethnically and culturally, and documentary evidence testifies to just how much they disliked foreigners in Egypt. To have foreign slaves would not only be a violation of outsiders in Pharaoh's sacred land, it would be a tacit acceptance of isfet (Chaos) over ma'at (Order). And considering the large population in Egypt, with ample workers and warriors, there was no need for slaves. Finally, it would be great to know how slaves in any society "contributed greatly to the intellectual progress of the...culture". The only possible example is the Roman Empire using educated Greek slaves as government bureaucrats and household administrators. If indeed there were slaves toiling in Pharaoh's fields, they simply toiled. No profound contributions to Egyptian cosmological and theocratic thought. Just one piece of evidence will prove us wrong, Andy. Just one. Why can't you provide it?

In Exodus, Moses (who had been adopted by a royal family there) ultimately led 600,000 Hebrews out of Egypt around 1250 B.C. Hmm, another fail. How did Moses (a murderer and genocidal maniac, remember), manage the unfathomably complex logistics of moving and feeding that many people even a few miles out of the Egyptian delta, let alone all the way into Sinai to get their quails and manna? And where does this date of 1250 BC come from? Apparently Andy's Conservative Bible comes with handy historical footnotes. Life's great when you can make shit up, isn't it?

Egyptian historians refer to slaves and captives called “Hapiru”, but it is debated whether these were the Hebrews. Well well, Andy actually concedes an uncertainty! The Amarna Letters, surviving diplomatic records between the kingdoms of the Near East in the early thirteenth century BC, do occasionally reference a group (the prW) raiding and pillaging Egypt's client states. Victorian scholars translated this word as "Hapiru" and some immediately equated them with the Hebrews. But no respectable modern Egyptologist would support this claim. And neither should Andy, considering that the references to the Hapiru predate his supposed exodus by fifty years.

Regardless, the Bible contains many verified references to the Egyptian pharaohs demonstrating that the Jewish ancestors were in Egypt. Note that the Bible doesn't name Pharaohs. It just keeps saying "the King of Egypt" until it finally makes a sole reference in 1 Kings to a Pharaoh "Shishak", who we still can't identify. His name is etymologically close to Sheshonq, a 22nd Dynasty king in the fractured Nile Delta. But Sheshonq didn't conduct the military campaigns with which the Bible credits him. The Bible also claims in the same book that Shishak gave his daughter to King Solomon. But Pharaohs - even the economically destitute, politically impotent Pharaohs of Egypt's dying days - NEVER gave their daughters in marriage to foreigners, for that would have been an unimaginable insult both to the Egyptian gods, and to Egypt's sense of pride as being the defenders of Order against Chaos. Also, given that the two Pharaohs associated with Moses (the first one who throws the Hebrew babies in the Nile, then the second one who gets mind-raped by that petty false deity) were such central figureheads in Hebrew mythology, you'd think that had it all really happened, SOMEONE would've known their names. Yet no names are ever mentioned. So no, Andy, there are not "many verified references to the Egyptian pharoahs [sic]". There isn't even one.

The Hebrew escape from Egypt is called the “Exodus”, and is described by that book in the Old Testament. During the passage, Moses received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai. (In Manhattan today there is a famous medical school on the upper East Side named “Mount Sinai.”) Moses is also credited as the author of the first five books of the Bible (the “Pentateuch” or, in parchment scroll in the Jewish liturgy, the “Torah”).

Another example of Conservative Deceit, and possibly the most annoying one about fundamentalist Bible-bashers. The Book of Exodus is little more than a lexicon of abhorrent crimes against humanity. First, God ignores the Hebrews' slavery for centuries, not caring as Pharaoh hurls Hebrew babies into the Nile. Then, when God finally pulls his finger out of his arse and pays attention, he bullies a stuttering old man (who is also a murderer) into threatening Pharaoh with massive ecological and economic devastation. Then, God mind-rapes Pharaoh as a cheap justification to pummel the ordinary Egyptian people with hideous plagues which result in national stocks of water, grain, crops, and livestock being vaporised, the entire population suffering from hideous skin diseases, and tens of thousands of children dying.

God is love. Remember that, children. God loves you. In fact, he loves you so much, he's going to turn your water into blood, give you skin diseases, turn the sand into lice, kill the livestock, destroy your crops with locusts, rain fire and hail upon you, send pitch-black darkness, cause swarms of frogs to infest your houses and then die in every nook and cranny, and then kill your eldest child. GOD IS LOVE!!!

While most ancient peoples worshiped many pagan (non-existent) gods, the Hebrews worshiped only one God (but even the Hebrews had false gods – note the Second Commandment). The Hebrews referred to God as “Yahweh” (or “Jehovah”), and to this day Jewish people who strictly observe the Old Testament consider it improper to write the name of God and instead write “G-d”. “Yahweh” simply means “I am who I am,” written in the Hebrew language (which lacks vowels) as YHWH. (“Yah” by itself means simply, “I am”.) It is the name God instructed Moses use at the encounter at the miraculous burning bush that continued to burn without destruction in Exodus 3:14: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Andy's first sentence is a logical nightmare. "The Hebrews only had one god, but they had many gods". What? Apparently consistency is an alien concept to Andy, as is sticking to the topic. Really, what's the point in this little linguistic tangent? What does it have to do with anything?

After leaving Egypt, the Hebrews settled back in the hills of Palestine or Canaan along eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. They quickly developed a productive society despite the barrenness of the land. They implemented a system of private property, which much sharing within the family structure. Before long, they became targets for their less sophisticated and pagan neighbors. Worst among these were the Philistines, who had iron weapons and good organization. The Hebrews, in contrast, were loosely affiliated and unprepared to defend against outside invasions. The Bible recounts many of these struggles with the Philistines. Aww, no mention of the continental-scale genocide the Hebrews committed in order to settle in Canaan? Nothing about "Thou shalt put all that inhabit the place to the sword - men, women, the old and infirm, infants and pregnant females, yea even the livestock"? Nothing about Joshua? Put Joshua in a room with Hitler, Genghis Khan, and Stalin, and the latter three would look like cuddly teddy bears in comparison. Lovely use of Conservative Deceit, Andy.

Inevitably a Hebrew warrior, Saul, took power around 1000 B.C. and defeated the Philistines and Canaanites. The priest Samuel anointed Saul king, but many Hebrews declined to obey him. David, a shrewd fighter who had trained as a mercenary with the Philistines, became famous for defeating the Philistine giant Goliath as described in the Bible. David then built an empire for Israel that extended from Damascus, then a thriving city in the Fertile Crescent, all the way south past what is now the Gaza Strip. For its capital he built a hill city called Jerusalem, and encapsulated it within a wall. II Samuel 9-20 describes this period. Ah yes, David and Jonathan. Such a cute gay couple. Seriously, read 1 Samuel 19:1-7. The Bible loves a bit of man-on-man action.

David’s son was Solomon, who ruled for forty years (965-925 B.C.) and constructed the great temple of Jerusalem. He was known for his wisdom and justice. He created two states: Israel in the north, with a capital at Samaria, and Judah in the south, with a capital at Jerusalem. But Solomon also taxed the Hebrews heavily and, after he died, the empire fell into decline. The Kingdom of Israel split after the death of Solomon. I Kings 12. King Solomon? Ah yes, this would be the one who enslaved all foreigners in his land to build his temple and palace. Read 2 Chronicles 17-18. Funny how God didn't hear all these poor enslaved foreigners crying out to be let free. Maybe like the Hebrews, they had to wait a few centuries for God to stop pissing around and pay attention.

Judah in the south survived longer than Israel in the north. The southern Kingdom of Judah consisted of two of the twelve Hebrew tribes, while the northern Kingdom of Israel had the other ten Hebrew tribes. But due to its northern location, the Kingdom of Israel had to contend with Assyria, which was cruel and extremely powerful kingdom of northern Mesopotamia. It was located in present-day northern Iraq and at times controlled the northern part of present-day Syria. It became an independent state in the 14th century B.C., expanded in the 9th century B.C. and, under powerful kings like Sargon II, united most of the Middle East from Egypt to the Persian Gulf under Assyrian rule. It was finally destroyed by a Chaldean-Median coalition in 612-609 B.C. Given the harshness of the laws in Leviticus (and the sheer pettiness of so many), it's rather rich of Andy to call Assyria "cruel".

The Assyrians defeated the Kingdom of Israel in 772 B.C, and then scattered and dispersed its ten Hebrew tribes throughout the Assyrian Kingdom. The Assyrian empire was so powerful because it is used iron weapons along with battering rams, and did not hesitate even to tunnel under enemies’ walls. The Assyrians also enslaved the peoples it captured, taking them away from their homeland. The scattering of the Hebrews by the Assyrians was the first of several “diaspora” (deye-AS-puh-ruh), which means the scattering of the Jewish people away from their homeland. In Judah, however, a young ruler known as Joshua ultimately rose to power in 640 B.C. and overthrew the Assyrian influence, which was in a state of decline then. But Judah himself ran into the merciless power of the Chaldean empire. This paragraph is like a coffee-break puzzle. "Spot the Grammatical Monstrosities".

The Chaldean empire defeated both the Hebrews and the Assyrians. Chaldea was the region in southern Babylonia, covering what is now southern Iraq. This land borders the coast of the Persian Gulf between the Euphrates delta and the Arabian desert. As Assyrian power began to decline, a ruler named Nabopolassar was able to establish a Chaldean dynasty beginning in 625 B.C. and extending until the Persians conquered the territory by invading in 539 B.C. from present-day Iran. But in that brief span of time an important ruler commanded the Chaldean dynasty and all of Babylonian empire: Nebuchadnezzar II (NEB-uh-kuhd-NEZ-ur), who reigned from 605 to 562 B.C. This is very boring, even for Andy. More akin to the 1920's style of learning history - simply repeat names, dates, and battles over and over and over until the students can regurgitate a load of random numbers and names on their exam papers, pass, and have no idea of the significance of these events.

He was a military genius who demonstrated his prowess with a massive conquest of the Egyptian army in 606 or 605 B.C., thereby gaining control of all of Syria. After his father's death, he obtained the submission of Judah and spent the next few years expanding the Babylonian empire into Palestine. Although suffering losses, he persisted and ultimately captured Jerusalem on March 16, 597, and then later again in 586, when the Chaldeans also destroyed Solomon’s temple. Nebuchadnezzar kidnapped and deported prominent Hebrews back to Babylonia, as recounted in the Bible and known as the Babylonian Exile. Nebuchadnezzar was a godless military commander who suffered from seven years of madness, but at times he protected key prophets like Jeremiah. Daniel describes seven years of madness for the ruler, but the Babylonian people did not dare criticize their own ruler. Daniel 4:34-37. Just because a person does not believe in the Biblical god does not mean that they are "godless". There are other religions besides Judaism and Christianity (and there's an unholy alliance if ever there was one, considering Christianity's track record of savage anti-Semitism). Why do fundamentalists believe in this weird dichotomy wherein there is only Fundamentalism (which isn't Christianity) and Atheism? There are other religions.

Babylon was a culture that did not have the value system of the Hebrews, and Babylonians did not accept God. The Babylonians were constantly raiding, kidnapping, killing or converting into slaves the Hebrews. Much of the Old Testament is about how the Hebrews would gain or lose favor with the Lord, and the Babylonians would prevail against the Hebrews as they lost favor with the Lord. “Babylon” is mentioned 246 times in the Old Testament! And of course, the Hebrews NEVER did this. Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers, Chronicles I and II, Kings I and II, etc etc etc...

Because he captured and exiled the Hebrews, King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon is mentioned frequently in the Old Testament. During his second invasion of Jerusalem, the city that had been previously established as the Hebrew center by David in 1000 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the holy Temple built by King Solomon (“Solomon’s Temple”). Nebuchadnezzar then captured the Jewish people and took them back to Babylon in what is known as the Babylonian Exile or Captivity, which lasted from 597 to 538 B.C. (beginning with his first invasion of Jerusalem). “But because our ancestors had angered the God of heaven, he gave them into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house and carried away the people to Babylonia.” Ezra 5:12. Points off for not mentioning that Solomon's Temple was built using slave labour...

The death of Nebuchadnezzar II signaled the end of the Babylonian empire, which proceeded to fall into decline. It was inevitable that Babylon itself would be conquered. Cyrus the Great was the King of Persia (the ancient name for Iran) (539-530 B.C.), who conquered Asia Minor for the Persians, including the territories of Assyria, Babylonia, Palestine and Syria. His kingdom was known as the Achaemenid (ə-kē'mə-nĭd) (or Persian) empire. He freed the Hebrews and ended the Babylonian Exile, allowing the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple. The tomb of Cyrus the Great still exists at Pasargadae, the town that was the capital of his empire but which is now in ruins in present-day Iran. Lovely use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Andy. Your copy-and-paste abilities are growing! Shame your interpretive faculties are as poor as ever

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More than a thousand years later, during the Islamic conquest of Iran, the Muslims planned to destroy the tomb as contrary to their religion. However, the possibility that the tomb was somehow built to honor the mother of King Solomon, a respected prophet in Islam, justified preserving the tomb to this day, and it is inscribed today with the following verse of the Qur’an (Koran): “Qabr-e Madar-e Sulaiman.” Ahh, fantastic. A bitchy comment about Muslims wanting to destroy a site of historical importance. Because of course, the Christians have NEVER done that before...

The Hebrews rebuilt the Jerusalem walls and the temple, though not restoring its magnificence under Solomon. They remained under Persian rule until Alexander the Great conquered the Persians around 330 B.C. Later, when the Roman Empire rose to power, Palestine became a province to Rome, until Palestine rebelled and Rome retaliated by destroying the temple in A.D. 70, again dispersing the Jewish people to distant lands. It's difficult to tell, but this paragraph compresses five hundred years into three choppy, crude sentences. Evidently Andy doesn't know anything about ancient Judea after 530 BC except that it was absorbed by both Alexander and Rome.

To what do we owe the ancient Hebrews? The concept of monotheism: one and only one God. The Hebrews established the covenant of loyalty between God and his chosen ones. Part of the covenant was the promise of a future Messiah to save the people from their sins, and it is debated whether the Messiah was supposed to establish a kingdom on earth. Later some Jewish people accepted Jesus as the Messiah, while some did not. The moral code by which the Hebrew people promised to live was set forth in the Ten Commandments, which were carved in stone and kept in the sacred Ark of the Covenant as described repeatedly in the Bible (see, e.g., Exodus 25:9-10). Highly specific requirements of daily life are also set forth in the Torah (the Pentateuch, or first five books of the Old Testament). The authorities on Jewish law are known as “rabbis”, but there is no single highest human authority like a pope. Next to the Bible, the next most authoritative Jewish work is the Talmud, which is a collection of writings by rabbis. The origins of monotheism are highly debatable. The "Heretic Pharaoh" Akhenaten, to name but one example, propagated a form of monotheism, monolatry, or henotheism. Long before any reliable, non-Biblical evidence points to the existence of the Hebrews as a distinguishable culture. And if God is so omnipotent and omniscient, why did he choose to reveal his petty one-god egotism to one small bunch of people in one place? Why couldn't he send a thousand Moseses to convert the Chinese, the Sarmatians, the Olmecs, the Celts, the Inuits, etc etc? Or more to the point, why couldn't he just brainwash every Emperor and King in the world and use them to propagate a vast global religion? It seems, contrary to Andy's assertions, that the Ancient Hebrews' legacy was that of a petty, half-arsed, bumbling moron who smites entire civilisations for not doing things which he prevents them from doing in the first place. Charming.

Egypt[edit]

Ancient Egypt was a tremendous civilization located in the fertile Nile Valley. Ancient Egypt existed from about 3000 B.C. up until Alexander the Great conquered it in 332 B.C. The Nile is the greatest river in the world, and is unique in flowing south-to-north, emptying into the Mediterranean Sea. It floods with great regularity each year (unlike the Tigris and Euphrates rivers), providing plentiful water for farming. Situated in a desert, Egypt developed irrigation techniques that led it to be called an “hydraulic empire.”

And we come now to Ancient Egypt; civilisation beloved by all. We all enjoy things to do with the Egyptians. And yet, instead of a fun romp through pyramids and priesthoods, we are about to plunge into the murky cesspit of Andy's Egyptological imagination. Let's - reluctantly - begin.

He at least gets the dates vaguely right. The unification of Upper and Lower Egypt by the mythical King Narmer does seem to have been around 3000 BC, and Alexander did occupy the country in 332 (after a few centuries of Libyan, Nubian, Assyrian, and Persian occupations). However, the subsequent Ptolemaic dynasty, and the early Roman Emperors, continued to depict themselves as Pharaohs. So it's difficult to pin down an "end" for Ancient Egypt. Andy's assertion that the Nile "is unique in flowing south-to north, emptying into the Mediterranean Sea" is particularly intriguing. What's unique - the direction, or the sea it empties into? Lots of rivers flow northwards, and lots of rivers flow into the Mediterranean. Either Andy got confused by the Nile's unique annual inundation cycle, or looked at a child's map which marks only the major rivers of the world, or just pulled this factoid out of his arse. Personally, I'd lean towards the latter. Which ain't pretty.

What is special about Egypt? Well, for starters, it is the oldest stationary civilization that remains in existence. Geography helped protect it against invaders. To its east and west are deserts, to the north is the Mediterranean Sea and to the south is the rest of Africa and the Nile. In between is the great and mighty Nile. Egypt is self-sufficient with natural resources also, having plentiful clay and stone and being able to trade for timber from nearby Lebanon and copper from Sinai. Just as the unique, closed-in geography of the island of Manhattan has encouraged the development of a powerful economy in New York City, the landscape of Egypt enhanced its independence. Even when conquered, the civilization does not shift anywhere, thanks to the natural boundaries. This chummy, pseudo-"cool" writing style is quite pathetic and is really irritating. Andy's deployment of geographical determinism - the idea that physical geography shapes human civilisations - is about a hundred years out of date (trust me Andy; I'm a geographer), and his definition of "self-sufficient" is rather odd. If you have to import timber and copper, you're not self-sufficient. That's pretty basic logic. Also, points off for the terrible analogy of Manhattan. Does Andy think that Manhattan is totally cut off from the outside world? Is there an independent culture on the island? Does a self-proclaimed God-King sit in state at the top of the Chrysler Building? We could recommend that he reads a book on geographical theory, but at this point it would be far more productive - and fun - to just beat him round the head with one.

Ancient Egypt was always ruled a “pharaoh” or king, who was considered to be a god and absolute owner and dictator of the country. He was worshipped by the people. Ooh, close but no cigar. The Egyptians did not call their ruler "Pharaoh" until well into the 25th Dynasty, by which point the civilisation was already a shadow of its former self. Even then, it was not a title but a determinative. Coming from the word per-aHa meaning "Great House", "Pharaoh" referred to the office of state. In much the same way that we refer to "Downing Street", or "the White House", or "the Kremlin", as a concrete geographic place to signify an abstract political body. It's a form of synecdoche, where one small place represents a larger society. Neither was the King worshipped as a god. Only after death was the King united with Osiris and Ra, becoming deified. In life he was considered semi-divine, a human body inhabited (at times) by the god Horus. Yes, Egyptian religion was bafflingly complex. Shame Andy can't even acknolwedge that.

The Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks and British did conquer and rule over it at some point. In that respect, the story of who ran Egypt is an account of the great world powers in history. Egypt did not have native rule between 341 B.C., when the Persians conquered the last Pharaoh (Nectanebo II), until to 1952, when the native Egyptian president Nasser overthrew a British constitutional monarchy. Oh dear. Well at least Andy didn't mention the Hyksos "invasion" which ended the Middle Kingdom - although I suspect that has less to do with Andy reading the latest scholarship, and more to do with his general stupidity. Following the general political decline which ended the New Kingdom, Egypt was (briefly) united by the Libyans, then later by the Nubians. Yes, there was a whole dynasty of black Pharaohs - and they were damned good Kings. But of course, Andy can't mention powerful black political figureheads for fear that those filthy lib'ruls will equate them with his Presidential nemesis. He also fails to mention Napoleon's occupation of Egypt from 1798-1801, and the subsequent Mameluke period under Mehmet Ali and his successors. Try opening a book, Andy. It's not that hard.

Ancient Egypt is divided into three periods: Old Kingdom (3100-2200 B.C.), Middle Kingdom (2100-1650 B.C.) and New Kingdom (1550-700 B.C.). The peak in power of ancient Egypt was 1567-1085 B.C. The Old Kingdom is known for its security and prosperity, free from foreign invaders. A unique Egyptian kingship developed during this period, and they built the great pyramids, including the Great Pyramid of Giza (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) as built by Pharaoh Khufu or Cheops (KEE-aps). The pyramids protected and preserved pharaohs for what they expected in the after-life, and were marvelous engineering feats that cannot be duplicated even today. No mention of the Predynastic and Protodynastic Eras, the First, Second, and Third Intermediate Periods, the Late Period, nor the Libyan and Nubian Eras. Andy obviously did a little research to find these names and dates (even though the "700 BC" date is badly wrong), so it's curious why he chose to leave the rest out. And again, he harps on about pyramids. Why is he so obsessed with them? It could be because of his "ancient people were smarter than us" twaddle, but considering that the Bible portrays the Egyptians as baby-killing, Hebrew-enslaving, Judea-ravaging demons, you'd think he might want to play down their achievements just a little.

The Middle Kingdom was a period during which Egyptian religion extended beyond the kings to the nobles and ordinary citizens. Pharaohs began to share power with local distinguished persons. The pharaohs were strong during this period and promoted trade by digging the Great Canal, which connected the Nile River to the Red Sea. The Middle Kingdom is best known for its cultural achievements, such as literature and artwork. During this period the Egyptians were also successful in draining parts of the Nile delta in Lower (northern) Egypt. Trade expanded, but civil war plagued the Middle Kingdom just as it was a problem in the Old Kingdom. What makes this so frustrating is that he obviously has done some research, because this bit is largely right. Yet so much else is so bad. It's as if he made this lecture by writing notes on a series of cards, shuffling them up, throwing the top half away, and then filling in the gaps with pure crap.

The New Kingdom followed a period of foreign rule for a century by the Hyksos (HIK-sohs) (from 1650 to 1580 B.C.), who were Semitic peoples invading Egypt from across the Sinai Peninsula. The Hyksos adopted much of Egyptian culture, including calling themselves pharaohs. The Hyksos introduced the horse and chariot into Egypt. Afterwards, the Egyptians extended their empire along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean into Mesopotamia, primarily under the great warrior Thutmose III. A dynasty from Upper Egypt began this period of the New Kingdom, and it extended throughout Syria, Palestine and, to the south, Nubia. Also, the pharaohs constructed large buildings and massive cities. Ugh. And there was me willing to grudgingly applaud Andy for not talking about the Hyksos invasion. A monument of Victorian scholarship, the "Migrations Hypothesis" was popular at a time when historians interpreted the past as a series of large population movements which caused civilisational clashes. Marxist, postmodernist, and historiographical historians reject this "migrations hypothesis" as being inconsistent and unsupported by archaeological evidence. Like all historians, the people who promoted this idea were influenced by current themes and trends in their own time and so naturally applied this framework to the past. We don't. Another century or two from now, historians will look at the way we write history, and assure themselves that our current theories and theses are wrong. That's how history works. It's pretty much the same process as science. Historians look at the available evidence, apply the theories which represent the best of their analytical knowledge at the time, and draw a conclusion. Then further down the line, new evidence is discovered or a new theory is assembled. The new evidence is examined, or the existing evidence is re-examined in light of the new theory, and the historians draw up revised conclusions. Then further down the line, it all happens again. It isn't as neat and sterile and clinical as science itself, as human civilisation is frequently random, unpredictable, and prone to being influenced by factors and variables which we can't control. But like science, history generates knowledge through a methodical process. And history is "done" by trained professionals and not homeschooled students; no more so than nuclear physics is performed by toddlers at a playgroup. And like the natural sciences, the humanities and social sciences don't work by clinging on to debunked theories like the "Migrations Hypothesis". Take note, Andy.

After the New Kingdom ended in 700 B.C., Egypt went into a decline and was subsequently conquered by the Persians in 525 B.C.

Here is a brief review of the famous Egyptian rulers. The first was Menes (or Mena). In 3100 B.C. he was already king of southern Upper Egypt, and he united it with northern Lower Egypt (note that lower Egypt is closer to the sea-level of the Mediterranean, north of Upper Egypt, as explained below). We know his name because Egyptian men, not women, wore make-up and his name was found on palettes used to apply make-up.

Bloody hell, what's all this crap?! We know of a mythical figure from Egyptian lore because men wore makeup?! Andy is trying to describe the Narmer Palette, but has got it so horrifically wrong he should sit down, shut the hell up, and let a brighter child in kindergarten explain it.

The Narmer Palette is an artifact from the Predynastic Period, around the 31st century BC. It is a small black stone object, nicely carved with pictures of a King called Narmer, who wears the White Crown of Upper Egypt (the river valley). He is depicted beating some unfortunate soul with a big club, and in the next scene Narmer is shown wearing his White Crown, with the Red Crown of Lower Egypt (the river delta). It is traditionally interpreted as depicting a mythical figure uniting the two Kingdoms of Egypt. The make-up connection is that the palette was used for grinding mineral powder to make kohl, the black paste that men AND women wore around their eyes for a variety of religious, aesthetic, and medicinal purposes. Unfortunately, the Narmer Palette is doomed to keep cropping up among Fundamentalists, due to two animals depicted on it - mythical creatures with long necks entwined to make the depression in which the powder is ground. They look vaguely like dinosaurs, and until he was thrown in the slammer for failing to Render unto Caesar, Kent Hovind used to trot out pictures of the palette to "prove" his cruddy cock-eyed crapfest. Still, good news for whoever carved the thing in the first place. He's achieved immortality!

Though Menes is called the first “pharaoh” (Egyptian ruler), actually that term was not used until the 18th Dynasty, 1539-1292 B.C. (Egypt was organized by “dynasties”, where one family (including descendants) controlled the country.) The term “pharaoh” signifies the Egyptian custom claiming that its ruler was a god, similar to the sky god Horus and the sun gods Re, Amon and Aton. He was considered to be the preserver of a god-given order, called ma’at. Even after death the pharaoh supposedly retained divine status and magical powers. This was a theocracy (rule by a god). As explained above, the term per-aHa (which the Greeks later translated as "Pharaoh") did not appear in the context of political office until the 25th Dynasty, not the 18th. And it had nothing whatsoever to do with the custom of claiming godhood. Neither did the Egyptians come up with the concept of dynasties - indeed, throughout their civilisation the Egyptians were remarkably ignorant of their own history. Unsurprising, considering that they believed their civilisation was eternal, so there was no motive to generate a scholarship of examining the past. Our organisation system of Dynasties is traceable to Manetho, a Graeco-Egyptian priest of the 3rd century BC, who catalogued Egypt's list of Kings as a political move to try and instil a sense of pride and fervour in a broken land which had been conquered and occupied several times in recent centuries. Aton was not a sun god, it was simply a manifestation of Re/Ra and only at a particular time of the day (I warned you that Egyptian religion was complex!). The Aton/Aten was a background character until the reign of Akhenaten, who (possibly for political purposes against the priesthood of Amun) made Aten the sole god (or at least the only one allowed to be depicted). After Akhenaten's death, General Horemheb briefly banned the Aten lest the "heresy" return, and for the remainder of Egyptian history the Aten was a warily-mentioned deity. See, Andy? History is great! When you actually read it, instead of pulling it out of your derriere.

The Egyptian people were divided into separate levels or classes. The highest level consisted of the priests and nobles, and below them were the peasants, and below the peasants were the slaves (which included the Hebrews until Moses led them out in the Exodus). Women were respected in their role of child-rearing and managing household finances, and there were two Egyptian queens: Queen Ahhotep and Queen Hatshepsut. Queen Ahhotep ruled in the Middle Kingdom and helped liberate Egypt from the Hyksos. Her mummy was discovered in A.D. 1859, and her tomb contained many military artifacts honoring her. Queen Hatshepsut served in the place of her young boy who was heir to the throne, and she ruled for 15 years until her death in 1458 B.C. She is known for expanding trade. Women were also included in the gods (goddesses) that Egyptians worshipped. More generally, rights of dynasty were inherited through the mother’s side, making Egypt a “matriarchal” society. The most famous pharaoh was Pharaoh Ramses II, who served during the New Kingdom. Slavery first became widespread during the New Kingdom, probably using Hebrews as slaves. The Hebrew Exodus occurred under Ramses II, making him the last great pharaoh in the New Kingdom.

Oh sweet Jesus, no. No no no. We know by now that Andy can't go five minutes without shoehorning his right-wing politics into every nook and cranny of public discourse, but this section is frankly ludicrous. Aside from the fact that this class-based vision of society is dangerously Marxist (yes, Karl Marx himself would be proud to see this concept of class consciousness and economic determinism underpinning Andy's theories!), it's pathetically wrong.

Herodotus, an Ancient Greek tourist to the remnants of Egypt, recorded something about a seven-tiered class structure. But Herodotus also wrote about things in Egypt which blatently were not true, and it's doubtful whether Andy has even heard of Herodotus, let alone read him. If there was indeed a "class system" in Egypt, it consisted of two classes: the Pharaoh, and everyone else. It didn't matter one iota how high-born you were, or who your parents were, or how much land you owned. What mattered was that the Pharaoh was semi-divine, and everyone else was a mere mortal. Trying to identify a class system in the ancient world is silly, as it's imposing a modern (well, nineteenth-century) concept on a world which simply doesn't fit into your neat little classification system. Presentism, remember?

Andy's misogyny shines through here - yes, women did have marginally better status in Egypt than in most societies (Egyptian women could own some property, had some legal rights, and could even serve in the state apparatus to a limited degree), but Egypt was a phallocentric society and like most females in history, Egyptian women reared children and managed households (not finances - the Egyptians didn't use money) not because it was respected, but because it was necessary for human survival. Just as men didn't toil in the fields as part of a Conservapedian cult of machismo, but because they HAD to. And remember that Egyptian women, like most women in human history up and including the present, had to rear their children, manage the household, AND toil alongside the men at the everyday chores necessary for survival. Women have had it pretty tough, lads. So always be good to your mum. There were far more than TWO Egyptian queens. Every Pharaoh had several dozen or even several hundred wives. There were several female Pharaohs - Sobeknefru, Ahhotep, Hatshepsut, and of course seven Cleopatras. Although they were Ptolemaic (Graeco-Egyptian). Hasn't Andy READ Shakespeare? It seems inevitable that the Exodus is going to crop up again, so for now let us simply ask one question - how does oppressing the Hebrews qualify Rameses II to be a "great Pharaoh"? Whose side is Andy on?

Modern discoveries shed new light on the Egyptian culture. In A.D. 1922, Howard Carter discovered in the Valley of the Kings the untouched tomb of Tutankhamen, a young pharaoh surrounded by magnificent gold and other artifacts that have been displayed around the world ever since. Tutankhamen ruled from 1361 to 1352 B.C., and very little is known about his reign.

Oh for Christ's SAKE.

A lot is known about the reign of Tutankhamun. We know who his paternal grandparents were (Amenhotep III and Tiya: and we have a pretty good idea who his maternal grandparents were, although we're far from certain), his parents (Akhenaten and Nefertiti), his wives (the Great Royal Wife being Aneksunamun), we know he had several stillborn children. We know he walked with a limp, we know he was heavily influenced by his Chancellor, Ay and his Grand General, Horemheb - both of whom became Pharaohs after his death. We know the political events of his reign; the aftermath of the Atenist heresy, the move of the capital from Akhetaten back to Waset, the letters to Emperor Suppiluliama of the Hatti requesting diplomatic negotiations. Egyptologist Zahi Hawass even confirmed by DNA testing his ancestry and lineage back in 2010, for crying out loud. Here's a hint, Andy: READ A BOOK.

Anyway, what happened to Andy's list of famous Pharaohs? Where's the discussions of Khufu and Khafre? Neferkaure II and Hor-Aha? What about Amenhotep III, the most powerful King in Egyptian history? What about Ay and Horemheb, Ramses I and the warrior-king Seti I, or Ramses XI who was deposed in a palace coup which ended the New Kingdom? How about Pepi II, who ruled for more than a hundred years? Or the most powerful of the black Pharaohs, Piye and Taharqa, who reunited Egypt and revived the traditional religion? What about the Greek Ptolemy, or even the famous Cleopatra? These were important people. And a lot of them ascended to the throne while still teenagers, which must make Andy soil himself in glee. If you're going to pretend you know history, Mr Schlafly, at least TRY to stay on-topic.

Egyptian invented mummification, which began in the 4th Dynasty. It took the Egyptians a long time to develop this art, but they ultimately succeeded to perfection. Without going into all the gory details, it consists of removing the internal organs from a body after death, treating the body with resin, and then wrapping it tightly in linen bandages. You should consider becoming a doctor if you have an interest in this. Yes, consider becoming a doctor if you have an interest in vague references to the job of a Bronze Age mortician. Read up on how to use surgical instruments while reciting complex prayers and elaborate rituals to please Anubis and ward off the spirits of Chaos. And to be brutally honest, not many people would trust a homzkuled doctor. By "without going into all the gory details", we can only presume that Andy means "I don't know how it works". We won't examine the processes of mummification here, as it's far more fun to find out yourself. Go on, look it up! It's fascinating!

Religion: The ancient Egyptians worshiped many gods, often inspired by animals or aspects of nature such as the sun. Only nobles could aspire to an afterlife, and only the king himself could become unified with Osiris, a legendary king who represented the forces of agriculture. These religious views could not survive the spread of Islam and Christianity today. Now Egypt is 90% Sunnite Muslim, and the remainder mostly Christian (Copts). The Copts trace their ancestors directly to the ancient Egyptians. Unlike the Muslims in Egypt, who consider themselves Arabs, the Copts do not and still use ancient Egyptian surnames. They cite the sojourn by Jesus’ family in Egypt to escape Herod, and the proselytizing in Egypt by Saint Mark the Evangelist, who wrote the Gospel and was martyred at Alexandria, Egypt. He is considered the first leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, followed by an unbroken line of 117 successors to the present Pope Shenouda III. A pharaoh was considered to be a sun god, and eventually monotheism (one all-powerful god) became popular in Egypt, with the sun god Aton commanding all Egyptians’ attention.

Is Andy now categorising? But late for that now. And it's wrong. In the Old Kingdom, only the King could aspire to an afterlife with the main gods. Everyone else had to put their faith in local or household gods, or if they were rich enough, pester the King until he allowed them to build little pyramids close enough to his to leech off his lifeforce (by the way, even if you did make it to the "Field of Reeds", your afterlife consisted of serving the gods. Heavy labour, but at least eternity won't be boring). Theories abound on the purpose of the mammoth Giza Pyramids, and a popular one is that this gargantuan national construction project (careful Andy - your beloved pyramids were government-sponsored public works programmes) was to enable the whole of Egypt to join him in the afterlife. By working for the King on his tomb project, some of the King's holiness rubbed off on Joe Public. So the peasants got to go to the afterlife. As servants, albeit, but it's still better than nothing.

The claim that these views "could not survive the spread of Islam and Christianity" is entertaining. The Egyptian religion endured - with no more change than the occasional reshuffling of the top gods - for more than three thousand years. It was a pretty robust religion, and elements were still being practised as the Roman Empire was falling. Indeed, it has been persuasively argued that the iconic image of the goddess Isis suckling the infant Horus inspired the Madonna and Child (Mary and Jesus) motif so prevalent in early Christianity, which conveniently emerged nearby. Also, at no point was worshipping the Aten a popular religion. It was in fact deeply unpopular - the ordinary people didn't take kindly to their old gods being banned, particularly as Akhenaten claimed that in the new religion, only him and his wife would go to the afterlife and people outside the capital city would be completely ignored by Aten. Only the nobles pretended to believe, and after Akhenaten died it all fell apart very quickly. When his successors Tutankhamun, Ay, and Horemheb demolished the Aten temples and restored the old religion, their policies were met with immense approval - even from foreign Kings, who (as the Amarna Letters testify) were concerned about the geopolitical instability that resulted from Akhenaten not caring about Egypt's unstable protectorates and delicate web of alliance and neutrality treaties). Akhenaten's brief flirtation with one god was possibly a consequence of his inflated ego, or maybe a political maneuver against the bloated, corrupt and vastly powerful priesthood of Amun, or perhaps was nothing more than an experimental form of art that we have misinterpreted. There are other possibilities. Open your mind, Andy! (Ouch)

Language: The Egyptian developed a written language consisting of hieroglyphics, which are pictographs. It originated around 3100 B.C. Papyrus, a thin parchment constructed from reeds near the Nile river, was the “paper”. Historians could not understand it until the discovery of the “Rosetta Stone” by Napoleon’s troops found in 1799 near the seaside town of Rosetta, located in northern Egypt. It sits in the British Museum today. It consists of a slab of black basalt inscribing a royal decree to the king Ptolemy V, dating from 196 B.C. The Stone is marvelous in inscribing the same message three times: once in Greek, once in Demotic (a simple form of hieroglyphics used 700 B.C. to 400 A.D.), and once in hieroglyphic. This enabled a French expert in the Greek language, Jean Francois Champollion, to determine what the hieroglyphic characters mean, and build a dictionary that could be used to translate other works written in hieroglyphics. Egypt’s complex, picture-based language probably hindered its growth. The picture-based language was not as easy to use as the alphabet-based Phoenician language later adopted by the Greeks and Romans. How would one express Christian concepts like salvation, faith, hope and redemption? It seems impossible.

Oh, this is good. If pseudohistorical bullshit were a precious metal, this particular snippet would glimmer like the Golden Throne of Holy Terra. A sacred statement studded with gems of ignorance.

One would express such concepts as faith, etc,, in the same way thatt all writing systems do. By using symbols. The letters on this screen, the very ones you are reading right now, have no meaning whatsoever. They're just an assortment of straight lines and half-circles that would be as baffling to an Egyptian as hieroglyphs are to you and me. Try reading Chinese, or getting a non-Anglophonic Chinese person to read English. You'll both be bamboozled by the other's writing system. Yet both work to the people who use them. It is the meaning we attach to the symbols - meanings which are agreed on collectively - which allow us to express thoughts, ideas, and abstract concepts using arbitrary symbols. The (similarly Christian) concept of "forgiveness", for example, is universal across human cultures and human history, ranging from societies with complex writing systems to societies which don't have any system of writing. Yet the concept still exists. Without going into the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, suffice it to say that you don't need any system of writing to have certain concepts, and you certainly don't need a particular style of writing. Frankly, this passage is a glimmering example of just how stupid and arrogant this man is. Andy might as well make the claim that the Russian Orthodox Church cannot express the concepts of "salvation, hope and redemption", simply because he can't read the Cyrillic alphabet. What an absolute buffoon.

Science: A magnificent city named “Alexandria” in 334 B.C. was created by Alexander the Great in Egypt, and it became a cultural center for many centuries in the future. Eventually it grew to be second only to Rome in size and wealth, but declined over a thousand years later after Islamic conquerors established Cairo as the capital of Egypt. Alexandria was best known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and a Library in Alexandria, which was the largest in the world at that time and reflected the cultural leadership of the city. Aww Andy, you forgot to include the bit about the Christians burning the Library! Why? Are you embarrassed? Well, you bloody well should be.

In A.D. 100, while Alexandria was still a great city, a future scholar named Ptolemy (pronounced “tah-luh-mee”) (b. A.D. 100, d. A.D. 170) was born there and named after the long line of Egyptian kings. He wrote magnificent works on astronomy, optics, geography, mechanics and geometry. He is best known for his complex theory that placed planet Earth at the center of universe, since all things appeared to fall towards Earth and thus towards the center. The Ptolemaic system was the prevailing view until Copernicus proposed the sun as the center of the solar system over 1000 years later. And nothing about Claudius Ptolemy (not to be confused with the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egyptian Pharaohs) being denounced by the early church for promoting a non-theocratic universe...

Culture: Egypt used slaves as most ancient cultures did. Women in Egypt had powerful rights, including the right to own property, divorce their husbands, manage businesses and even become priestesses. It was possible for poor people to rise to the upper class through talent and hard work. Taxes were a burden. The government claimed ownership of one-fifth of all produce (Genesis 47:24). The society had some ethical principles, such as the royal advice that “more acceptable is the character of one upright of heart than the ox of the evildoer.” Feeding the poor, taking care of the disadvantaged, and avoid bribes in administering justice were respected. The Egyptians learned to travel up and down the Nile River by using the current in one direction, and the Etesian winds to propel sailboats upstream into the other direction. Egyptian architecture was the pyramid and colonnaded temples like the one Karnak, using a style later copied by the Greeks.

Oh for CHRIST'S SAKE, ENOUGH with the slaves and the pathetic conservative crowbarring!! Where did this "royal advice" come from? It's so bad it has to be made up. And feeding the poor and caring for the worse-off? Sounds suspiciously like a lib'rul welfare state. Which of course, Egypt was. Particularly as the tax rate was, in fact, close to 100% - the King took everything, and redistributed it to everyone through a vast state bureaucracy (Andy must be loving this) because caring for all Egyptians was a triumph of Order over Chaos, and thus a perpetuation of the cosmos. But alas, it was NEVER possible for poor people to rise up through talent and hard work. That's because most people - poor and rich - died before the age of 35. When you factor in your own childhood, perpetual toil from the age you can toddle around, raising your own children, and sweating in the fields for Pharaoh in the hope that one day Ra will let you into the afterlife, that doesn't leave a lot of time to brown-nose to the hoity-toity types in their faraway mansions. In Egyptian society everyone was expected to know and accept their place. A physician, a farmer, a mason, a sailor, a Pharaoh, a mortician, a priest - they were all there because the gods had willed it, and like it or lump it, you had to do it. There is even a surviving satirical story about a Pharaoh who complains to his court magician that he wishes he was a common labourer carrying stones in the quarries, because no burden is as heavy to bear as the crown. But to want something else was a rebellion against the divine Order. So you accepted your lot, lived your short life, and hoped that Anubis would hold your hand as he guided you to the Hall of Eternal Judgement, where Osiris would judge you while his son Horus spoke on your behalf.

Wait a minute. Eternal Judgement? A god judging you, and the god's son speaking on your behalf? This sounds strangely like another religion which later emerged nearby. Ohh, what's it's name...?

Trade: Egypt was not as advanced as Mesopotamia in trade, though trade did improve during the New Kingdom and some commerce with Sumer was established then. What's the point of this single sentence? Andy could have mentioned the expeditions to Punt under Queen Hatshepsut, the campaigns in Nubia to gain control of the goldmines and trade routes carrying exotic goods from sub-Saharan Africa, the merchant fleets sailing for the Aegean, etc etc. But no. Because Andy doesn't know.

Inventions: Egyptians invented our 365-day solar calendar, based on 12 months of about 30 days each. But Mesopotamia was more advanced than Egypt. To Mesopotamia we owe our “base 60” system for our clock (60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour). Egyptians lacked the concept of money, and relied on primitive barter (selling a good in exchange for a different good in return). The Egyptian Old Kingdom lacked the wheel.

No, no, NO. The Egyptian calendar was derived from the Babylonian one. Egyptians did not lack the concept of money (produce did apparently have state-set values counted in "deben", a type of copper ring), it's just that they didn't need it. Everything in the world theoretically belonged to Pharaoh, so at every harvest his vast bureaucratic apparatus would count up the produce, ship it around the country, and redistribute it so no-one went hungry. One of Pharaoh's duties, after all, was to care for humanity on behalf of the gods, who had better things to get on with. Like politicking with each other and having constant drunken sex orgies (oh yes, the Egyptian gods were a lot more fun). Barter is far from primitive, and has been the basis of commerce since time immemorial precisely because it involves actual items, not discs of metal, sheets of paper, or digitised numbers which represent some strange abstract "currency". Why just this morning, I traded a sheaf of printer paper with the Faculty downstairs in exchange for some coffee sachets. Simple, with no involvement of abstract currency. And finally, in true Schlafly Style, we end with a pointless and incorrect assertion (the Egyptian Old Kingdom did have the wheel - there are models of carts found in Old Kingdom tombs). It's simply that in Egypt, moving things by wheel is hideously inefficient. On the water you use boats, on land you use sledges because wheels sink into the sand and the wet soil).

And here we end! Apparently all grand narratives of history must wrap up with puerile crap. Edward Gibbon must have died kicking himself that he didn't end his sixteen-volume "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" by saying that Octavian had curly hair. And E.H. Carr must have spent his whole life wishing his monumental "What is History?" culminated with the revelation that fridge magnets contain aluminium.

Well, that's Andy's version of Antiquity dealt with. We eagerly await his next farce...

Footnotes[edit]

  1. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060721203414.htm
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_pyramid_construction_techniques#Jean-Pierre_Houdin.27s_.22internal_ramp.22_hypothesis
  3. Ancient Egypt Research Association: Feeding Pyramid Workers
  4. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416104320.htm