We have explored some of the underlying dynamics of prehistoric humans. Let us summarize our findings. Archaeological artifacts were organized into a series of ages beginning with the Stone Ages and finishing with the Metal Ages. We have seen that each of these archaeological ages is roughly associated with a distinct type of culture: the Paleolithic with Hunter-gatherers, the Mesolithic with Pastoralists, the Neolithic with Agrarian cultures, and now the Bronze Age with Military Aristocracies led by Warrior Kings.
These Military Aristocracies continued into the Iron Age and beyond. Although possessing a more sophisticated military technology, Iron Age culture was a continuation of Bronze Age culture. Therefore, the Age of Metals is associated with the establishment of a military aristocracy as overlords of an agrarian population.
As the technology of crafts advanced, the agrarian cultures made ever more beautiful works of art. As the technology of weaponry advanced, the warlike cultures were able to wage war and dominate agrarian cultures more effectively. The use of metals in weaponry made it much easier for the aggressive nomadic cultures to dominate the trade-based agrarian cultures.
Because the peoples of the world arrived at these types of cultural transitions at different times, these ages cannot be given any specific dates. Bronze Age Europe is different chronologically from Bronze Age China or Bronze Age England. Further archaeological finds are only loosely associated with cultural types. For instance, a military aristocracy could become overlords of an agrarian society, with or without metals.
The farming and herding cultures probably evolved due to inherent geographical potentials, rather than by choice or historical accident. However neither of these cultural groups evolved into military aristocracies. Instead militaristic herding cultures conquered agrarian societies, establishing themselves as rulers by force. The centralized civilizations of the Metal Ages were due to the violent interaction between pastoral and agrarian societies, rather than upon peaceful evolution.
A settled military aristocracy replaced the nomadic raiders of the preceding age. Further the agrarian societies were a necessary ingredient to the new social form. It was the labor of these agri-cultures that yielded the fabulous wealth of Metal Age dictatorships.
By and large, the Metal Age military aristocracy with individual variations has been a universal political form in world history, some might even argue through to present times. Militaristic cultures tend to seize wealth when they can. The most powerful cultures regularly employ their might to conquer prosperous trade-based societies. This process occurred in prehistoric times in northern Eurasia-Africa and spread to the remainder of the world in the Colonial Era.
While the Neolithic societies were based upon many small interactive communities, the Metal Age societies were heavily centralized with a warrior-king at the top. The leisure time that was generated by enslaving the indigenous populations allowed for the development of advanced technologies. Frequently, slave labor was directed to create massive architectural structures. The needs of the larger social organization also stimulated the development of writing. Because of these features, the Metal Ages are associated with the advance of civilization.
While our primary holidays, i.e. Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving, are derived from the Stone Age, the Fourth of July and Memorial Day are derived from the Bronze Age mentality. The glorification of war is a simple extension of the Warrior culture, which idealized battle as a way of life. The Fourth of July with its fireworks remembers the ‘bombs bursting in air’, while Memorial Day remembers those people who have fought in the wars.
The cultural Bronze Age brought the centralization of society, which resulted in civilization. This process also brought about the devastation of human rights, especially for women. While the Bronze Age was a time of technological evolution, it was a simultaneously a time of social devolution, if human rights is the criteria.
It is a myth that human and women’s rights made steady progress from the Stone Age to the Metal Ages. Men and women seem to have had relatively equal rights during the egalitarian Stone Age. Women were even venerated for their fertility. The lack of social stratification led to relatively equal rights for all members of the Tribe. Social stratification arose due to the militarization of society during the hierarchical Metal Age. It was during this period that women were dominated and suppressed. While this stage was inevitable, it must be actively reversed as an unnecessary residual of more barbaric times. The subjugation of women is not a natural human tendency, and can be avoided.
The Metal Age, while a time of technological advance especially in terms of metallurgy, was a big step backwards in terms of human rights. The technological advances were linked in some ways to the abuse of human rights. Certainly the monumental architecture was a result of slave labor. The Metal Age is also notable for large scale irrigation, which brought increased security for the farmers. However, a hierarchical society was required to organize and protect the projects. This large-scale organization was based upon centralization and stratification of society, which suppressed human rights.
Returning to a previous analogy: First woman domesticated man to form the tribe. Then the tribe domesticated stones in order to better adapt to their environment. As cultural differentiation began, animals were domesticated. This was the beginning of the pastoral cultures. Next the land itself was cultivated, which led to the first agricultural settlements. The metals of the earth were the next things to be tamed. Metal Age cultures tended to be military aristocracies with the indigenous agrarian society as the underclass. Hence it could be said that Metal Age cultures were the first to domesticate humans. Specifically, the nomadic military cultures domesticated the populace of the settled trade-based agri-cultures.
In some ways, this domestication was a form of objectification. Women and the underclass came to be treated as property, rather than as individuals. The warrior-kings defended their property, which included its human inhabitants – farmers, craftspeople and women. Further the victor was able to assume control of the property of the vanquished, which included the indigenous population. Note that this objectification of humans is not universal, but is instead related to the Metal Age cultures of the northern Eurasia-African mega-continent. When they eventually dominated the rest of the world, they brought human objectification with them.
The loss of human rights is not an innate feature of civilization and can be reversed. However, there is an inverse correlation between human rights and the militarization of culture. Warlike behavior up: human rights down and vice versa. As such, the only way that human and women’s rights will improve is through the demilitarization of culture.
To this end, we must make a conscious effort to maintain individual integrity and avoid complete identification with our national culture. In this way, we can curb our innate tendency to cultural genocide that is a primary root of the militarism of war. Let us exert our human ability to choose to extend basic rights to all people and minimize the increasingly destructive wars that drive our species to its doom. Even if collective salvation is impossible, employing mind intent to side step our innate human tendencies can lead to individual salvation and a happier life. Returning to our original theme, it is important to reprogram our behavior to resist self-destructive prehistoric cultural conditioning. Instead of becoming a victim, we can better fulfill personal potentials.