A few months back, there were two specials, on different channels, about how the Earth would be if mankind just disappeared. Neither special offered up any reason as to mankind’s disappearance but, instead, asked the viewer to just accept that mankind had just vanished. OK, I’ll bite, I thought. Both programs were very entertaining and probably very accurate. And it got me thinking for a moment. But, then, I just moved on. Well, the History Channel now has a series based on the special that they aired and it has me thinking again. Scary, I know.
So, all three of the shows postulated that, after about two thousand years, there would be very little of our civilization left. Our vast and great cities would be reduced to rubble and then overgrown with plant and animal life. Our networks of roads would disappear in just a few hundred years. Our large dams MIGHT make it a few centuries, perhaps a millennia. Pretty much all that would remain are the same remnants of mighty civilizations of thousands of years ago: the great pyramids, the sphinx, some of the great wall of China and, perhaps, parts of the Statue of Liberty that fell into the mud. Basically, though, not much of today would survive. Even our trash might be gone.
Now, I’m putting my thinking cap on and breaking out some tall tales. Assuming that the two thousand year mark is even close to accurate, how many times has mankind risen only to fall and have to start over? There are tantalizing pieces of evidence for advanced civilizations when there should not have been any. Stainless steel found among relics that are thousands of years old. Trinkets that are shaped like aircraft coming from a time when there were none. Or, at least, we think there none. Architecture on different parts of the planet dating from the same period and when the chances of such similarity would be highly unlikely.
Two thousand years is a long time for us, but a blink of the eye in the grander scheme. What if, say, ten thousand years ago, there was an advanced civilization on Earth. They could very well have mastered the environment, air and sea and achieve a high level of technology. Then, something catastrophic happens. Civilization breaks down. Once the infrastructure of a society breaks, it can be difficult to impossible to restore, depending on the level of the breakdown. Eventually, if that infrastructure is not restored, that society will die. We’ve seen this with the Romans. Cities die out and the population scatters. Without that infrastructure, education falls. In one century, it is possible that technology becomes impossible to maintain. Machinery stops. Transportation is relegated to foot traffic and horse and buggy.
Once the population leaves the cities, they will likely form smaller camps, tribes or villages. After two hundred years, it is almost like the stone age again. Slowly, however, those tribes begin to reform some kind of societal norms. The artifacts of the previous civilization are likely to be destroyed, reused or otherwise lost. A few may survive a bit longer. Nature will reclaim much of it. Without the knowledge and understanding of what was, the current civilization won’t care much about the past and will only be concerned with their survival. Strange tales about the ‘ancients’ may live on for awhile.
Five hundred years later, there isn’t much evidence about the ancients. Curious remnants, a few tales, not much else. One thousand years later, nature has pretty much reclaimed the once gleaming cities. But, the descendants of that time are progressing nicely. They have some order. Small nation-states might begin to appear. There is some sort of educational system in some areas. Technology is still at the bronze age, but slowly progressing. And so on.
For me, this is a terrific subject. The idea that we’ve done this before is very intriguing. Man is an incredible machine. Our ability to learn, to adapt and keep going is astonishing. Our planet is billions of years old. Humans have inhabited the planet just a fraction of that time, but during our time on the planet, how many times has he fallen only stand up, brush off and move on? Even if we’ve only been here just a few million years, that is quite a long time for civilizations to rise and fall multiple times. It could very well be that those ‘ancient astronauts’ were really us.