I’m going to venture that the archeologists and anthropologists (and art historians, linguists, etc.) who have devoted their lives and careers to understanding our history would disagree with you. We know quite a lot about our past.

Anthropologist, Christopher Boehm, writes in his book, Hierarchy In The Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior

The three African great apes, with whom we share this rather recent Common Ancestor, are notably hierarchical. Reproductively fortunate are the high-ranking males or females, while those relegated to the bottom of the hierarchy fare less well. The same can be said of most human political societies in the world today, starting about five thousand years ago. At that time, people were beginning to increasingly live in chiefdoms, societies with highly privileged individuals who occupied hereditary positions of political leadership and social paramountcy. From certain well-developed chiefdoms came the six early civilizations, with their powerful and often despotic leaders. But before twelve-thousand years ago, humans basically were egalitarian (Knauft 1991). They lived in what might be called societies of equals, with minimal political centralization, and no social classes.

“Prior to World War II, most archeology was essentially a form of fortune-hunting/tomb-robbing. It is only within the past 80 years that it has come to have the technology and focus to try to understand a civilization from a multi-disciplinary standpoint, including zoology, botany, climatology, linguistics, and paleontology as well as archeology and anthropology. Even sites that have been under investigation for many years began to yield new insights.”

The anthropological and archeological consensus is that Paleolithic and early Neolithic communities were largely peaceful and egalitarian. This does not mean that there was never any violence of any kind; it simply means that it was not an intrinsic part of the society in the way that it became after the northern tribes overtook these settlements (through both invasion and assimilation).

“It (Indo-European peoples) characterizes a long line of invasions from the Asiatic and European north by nomadic peoples. Ruled by powerful priests and warriors, they brought with them their male gods of war and mountains. And as Aryans in India, Hittites and Mittani in the Fertile Crescent, Luwians in Anatolia, Kurgans in eastern Europe, Achaeans and later Dorians in Greece, they gradually imposed their ideologies and ways of life on the lands and peoples they conquered.”

I also feel compelled to challenge your oversimplified view of the arts in America. Just last month I went to a Monet exhibit at a large and well-respected art museum. It was so popular that you had to buy tickets ahead of time to get in. I live in a very business-oriented city, but it is still overflowing with arts and culture of every kind, from things like opera and ballet to all kinds of concerts, to a wide variety of museums, to smaller and more local arts-related doings in an area that is specifically denoted as “the arts district.” There are enough people who want to attend these offerings to keep the venues open and thriving. American movies and television don’t typically highlight an orientation towards culture, but every place I’ve ever lived has had an amazing array, from local theater to symphonies and everything in between.

Thanks for your comment though. That’s how conversations take place.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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