So, in my deep dive into human origins (it’s all Francis Turner’s fault, really) and the origins of various groups in Europe I came across what seems now to be a more or less established fact: that modern Europeans are the result of a mix between Early European Farmers ( likely immigrated from somewhere near Anatolia, btw the group that Otzi belonged too. They looked, and genetically resemble modern Sardinians.) and the Indo European herder invaders, the Yamnaya.
The curious thing is that Europeans have mostly maternal lines from Early European Farmers and paternal lines from the Yamnaya.
The conclusion drawn (and not wrong, though probably not absolutely right either) is that the Yamnaya killed the EEF and took their women.
This is part of the view of man as the killer ape that shaped so much of the thought in the seventies, and incidentally gave rise to — if not the whole — an entire strain of New Wave Science fiction.
Incidentally this helped shape the idea that humans should never go to other planets, and over time poisoned generations with a hatred for their own species and a drive to self-extinction which we unfortunately see a lot of in the new generation.
Pinches nose bridge.
Yeah, okay I fell for it. Remember I was very young. At fourteen the idea that humans were uniquely bad and killers wasn’t implausible. After all, you know, adults who had degrees were saying this stuff, they probably knew something I didn’t know.
Turns out not so much. It was mostly hysteria from the (then) most pampered generation in history at the idea that war existed and they might be required to serve, or worse, they might die in a nuclear exchange. The second was scary, admittedly, and no one who didn’t grow up with the hammer hanging over them can know how scary it was that all authorities told us we were most likely to be killed in our beds because we wouldn’t roll over for communism. (And I’m sorry, yes, that’s what every authority and entertainer said. Bah.) It was made scarier and crazier by propaganda from the soviet union that targeted mostly the young and convinced them pacifism (which is known as surrender) was some kind of an answer.) Those who kept an eye on the fall of the Sov Union (difficult as our press here didn’t really cover it) or who keep an eye on China agree that war is scary but it’s not the scariest thing. And there are things worth fighting for.
Maybe I shouldn’t judge. It was a concerted propaganda front from Imagine to New Wave post apocalyptic stories. Most humans don’t want to think everything out for themselves. We are social apes, if not particularly killer ones. (More on that later.) So we absorb the ethos of our time and tribe through our senses and bypass our thought to belong.
But the truth is that it’s all a load of Marshall’s pre-school teacher (second son had the improbably named Mrs. Hooey for pre-school.) I mean, all of it.
Are humans killers? All animals are. Even so called herbivores. Periodically people get pictures of cows chomping on bunnies and are shocked. Every one who has kept chickens knows the dastardly creatures haven’t forgotten they were once dinosaurs. To see a flock pursuing a lizard is a thing of beauty, but they will even turn on their mates and eat large chunks. With chickens, ladies and gentlemen it’s a matter of size. Forget Godzilla and King Kong. If Aliens wanted to exterminate us, they’d create T- Rex sized chickens, and we’d be running away frantically, as they laid our cities to waste.
And apes? Dear lord, apes. Far from being uniquely killer apes, we’re somewhat restrained and controlled. Chimps will tear baby chimps from their mothers’ arms, rip them to shreds and eat them. Mostly when the female is a stranger to the group, and sure there’s an evolutionary reason there. But sometimes they seem to do it to a member of their own band and just chomp them.
So, no, we’re not uniquely bad. And if the voluntary extinction movement had their way, we’d only be leaving the Earth to those worse than us. Never mind.
But then there’s the whole “EVERY MAN WAS SLAUGHTERED, EVERY CUTE AND YOUNG WOMAN TAKEN” which the right proposes in the idea they’re being “realistic” while the left embraces with “See how evil humans are!” and both of which give me a headache and a pain in… wherever rationality is located.
Yeah, sure, one of the strains — paternal — was almost completely eliminated. The question is… over how long, and how widespread an area?
Are we really studying ONLY the generation immediately after the invasions, and finding no paternal EEF strains? Are we studying it everywhere?
If we were then that conclusion would be warranted. But…
No, of course we aren’t. Good heavens. Yeah, we have a lot more remains showing up every day, and our tools are getting better. But the preservation of human remains is an iffy thing, and great strides though we’re making, it’s not that fine a tool or an exploration.
I suspect that yes, in many places there were raids that killed every man and took every woman. The rape of the Sabines is not a unique thing in the world (and the women had their revenge. The grandmother’s told stories, remember? And maybe the invaders influenced the new generation less than they thought) and for primitive tribes or nomadic tribes, or the Middle East until very very recently, it was the pattern.
I’m sure those isolated EEF hamlets and farms got trounced suddenly, in the night, without any idea what was coming. And my mind can conjure up quite vivid and scary images, thank you so much, of being a young woman and seeing her whole family slaughtered and what came after. The farm burning in the night, the wagons, the mistreatment over the next few years till she acquired Stockholm syndrome and identified with the oppressor. (Did you know there is a mechanism in humans that can replace the native tongue with a learned one, given enough trauma. Given I’ve pretty much done it it makes me wonder about “enough trauma.”) The plains Indians did that, and read the stories of young female abductees to get the full force of their condition.
There is a reason nomadic herding cultures, and primitive cultures of all kinds keep their women covered up or in the back of the house. And no, it’s not “evil patriarchy” (though it is evil patriarchy, in the sense of father-the-protector.) It’s because the casual travelers who drop by for a drink and the sacred host’s duty offering of a bite to eat might be scouts for a whole tribe on the move. Showing them your beautiful women is inviting one of those raids in the night. It’s the way the world is, outside our very fortunate and technological life. And until 90 lb women can reliably trounce 200 lb men, it will be. We have what keeps the tribe going. We will be coveted. The more primitive and savage a people is, the worse that turns out.)
I’m sure there were horrors there, too, like the things we’ve learned from the Middle East and which echo some of the less savory Greek legends: parents served their children’s flesh, cannibalism and human sacrifice and indescribable tragedy.
In fact, in many ways, for many of us from European extraction (and even those who are only partially so) you could say this was the invasion our collective unconscious comes from, the place where the dreams and nightmares fester, and a lot of our legends originate.
But EVERY village? EVERY hamlet of EEF? Oh, please. If you’re going to maintain that, you have to tell me which innovation caused the Yamnaya to be so devastating in battle. And don’t tell me bronze weapons, because the EEF had that. And don’t tell me that it was because the EEF were peaceful agriculturalists, because we have proof they weren’t They seemed to conduct lively raiding and stealing among themselves, just to keep their hand in.
If you’re going to make that kind of claim, you surely best show your work.
No, the people who say it was ONLY the hypergamic nature of women that did it aren’t right either.
But knowing what difference a difference in the “attractiveness” of a population can make over a thousand years and that women were and are hypergamic, and also, honestly, that women instinctively prefer brutal men (though those of us who are rational have let that far behind), yeah…
Some village, hamlets, farms were completely obliterated except for the cute women. But a preference over say 50 generations for Yamnaya men would do the rest of the work, till EEF farmer male contributions were mostly trace.
Which, of course, brings us to “Humans, who we are.”
Yeah, I’m sure there was unimaginable horror in that invasion. There’s been unimaginable horror all through history.
But there are other things. Man is not the killer ape. Man is the killer MAN. By which I mean a self-tamed ape, who sure indulges in violence but usually has a reason for it (good or bad, as future generations might judge it.) and a goal, and who tells himself stories about who he is. Stories that make us more noble, braver, but also less bound by instincts, more able to temper them in the ways we wish we were.
Was that already operating in that ur-invasion. I think yes, because, as I said that’s where our legends come from (ah, those grandmothers!) So I suspect there were other feats, our deeds in those dark nights when the wagons full of young fighting men descended on the sleeping villages: bravery and altruism; young men dying for their women and friends; young men dying for the village, and sometimes, yes, young women insisting on fighting alongside brothers and husbands; but also less futile sacrifices, mothers running into the forest with male children who would otherwise be killed, and men fighting so their women could run away. But there would be other behaviors, too, from the invaders: unexpected mercy, unwonted and sudden kindness to the very old and very young, and yeah, occasionally, falling in love with one of the young women taken in the raid, and giving her more power over your culture and your young than she would ever have got otherwise.
Do I have proof of this? No. It’s not the sort of thing that leaves a mark in the bone and the gene. (And btw, most Jews have Egyptian paternal DNA. And every Jewish male wasn’t killed. It’s just women are hypergamic, and over time it tells. But the culture, the culture was still not Egyptian. Or they’d not be around now.)
But it is almost guaranteed, because they’re human and we’re human.
Humans are not Killer Apes. Sure, they’re that too, but that doesn’t distinguish them from other apes, who are just as killer or more.
Humans are story telling apes. And some of the stories we tell ourselves are about a morality that’s probably anti-evolution, but is part of civilization, of what allows us to live together in numbers and make scientific progress. To the extent it is present, society, and innovation functions more.
The west seems to be the wedge of this storytelling, this self-taming, this innovation.
To beat our chests and/or cry over our origin story is just zany. To say we can’t go to the stars due to our horrible taint is goofy.
What do we know about the morality or killer instincts of the crustaceans of Antares or the lizardoids of Proxima? Do we have any reason to think that any species made of flesh and come through the crucible of evolution would be like unto angels of gentleness and light?
It’s time to quit the disparaging stories and the self hatred. Killer Ape? Builder Ape! Dreamer Ape! Lover Ape! Poet Ape! Engineer Ape! Traveler Ape!
We deserve the stars, and they wait us.