Pyramids of Giza, Wikimedia

Ancient Watersystems: Dikes & Canals

Dutch Windmills, Kinderdijk, Netherlands - 3699

Dutch Windmills, Kinderdijk, Netherlands – 3699 (Photo credit: HereIsTom)

Having studied a bunch of the amazing things our first forefathers made got me wondering about the dikes in Holland. Turns out their dike system isn’t terribly ancient, although “Pliny the Elder” (about the time of Jesus) had this to say about the Dutch:

A miserable people is living there on high hills or rather on mounds erected by hand till from one’s own experience known level of the highest tide and on these mounds they have built their huts. Historia Naturalis

That doesn’t sound anything like the major systems they have today!

But, a number of other people groups used dikes in the early years after the Ark landed.

The Egyptians:

Nile

We all know they captured water from the yearly flooding of the Nile to irrigate their crops the whole year. Did you know a big part of this system included raised walls to form storage ponds and guide water to them?

I found a detailed and not too Evolutionary page where you can learn a lot about what they did and why it worked so well for 1,000s of years here: Egypt’s Nile Valley Basin Irrigation by Sandra Postel.  Remember. they say things happened before time started because they trust Carbon-14 Dating.

The Mesopotamians:

In Iraq, canals make the difference between lu...

The Grand Canal, north of Baghdad, modern irrigation in Mesopotamia

The Tigris and Euphrates get their water from high in the Turkish mountains. The reason the Nile has such “gentle” floods is because the melting waters from Africa’s mountains flow first into lakes (Victoria and Tana) before continuing down the river. Mesopotamia doesn’t have this protection system. Their floods were larger and more unpredictable, so the people had to come up with a system or move.

Being smart and hard workers, they built their own series of dikes, canals and even city walls to protect themselves and their crops from these floods.

The Mesopotamian floods washed in more than just water, too. All rivers carry tiny bits of rock, called silt, which brings fresh nutrients for the plants. But the Turkish mountains bring something else down, too- salt.

Early records from Lagaš or Lagash, not far from where the Tigris and Euphrates combine, tell an interesting story about this. At first they produced a lot of wheat, but within 400 years the ground was too salty to grow wheat at all!

Here’s where our thinking about the geological past comes in. If these rivers had been flowing in the same basic way (except during the worst of the “ice ages“), how did the salt build up so quickly in recorded history? I’m sure they can come up with a story, but I bet ours is simpler:

If those rivers had only been flowing from those mountains from the time the Ark landed, they didn’t have very long to start building salt deposits before people arrived!

China:

English: Mulanpo Irrigation System built in th...

Mulanpo Irrigation System built in the 11th century (Song Dynasty) in Putian, Fujian Province of China 中文: 建于11世纪(北宋)的福建莆田木兰陂水利工程 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found a page saying we know the earliest Chinese built irrigation systems, but gave no examples until about 250 BC. What IS cool about this “bamboo-based” irrigation system is how much better it survived a recent earthquake than modern technology did.

They also had a deep mountain shaft water system like the  Middle Easterners. Exciting stuff!

North America:

Of course, people didn’t settle so far from Babel for a while, but they brought a lot of knowledge with them when they did. Early Mexican and Native Americans built irrigation systems up to about a 1,000 years ago, but it’s not easy to find much about them. This webpage mentions both groups and their names if you want to learn more.

And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt. Amos 9:5 

Ancient Technology (sort of): Musical Scales

Sibiu Cathedral (King David)

Someone recommended a really cool book at my writer’s conference last month.  The Music of the Bible Revealed (by Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura) is a technical tome [thick book] about how she figured out the musical meanings of the little dots, dashes and squiggles alongside the words of the Hebrew Bible.

I might eventually write about what all that means (for example, she is convinced the Bible music was written at the time each book claims to be written, by the people who claimed to have written them!), but today I’m going much wider.

We have enough facts to be able to recognize the kind of music Noah and his family would have played on the ark.

Whoa, that’s a big statement!  How can this be?

Ok, we’ll start with the basics.  Ever taken a music lesson?  Learned to play the recorder or something, even just a little?  Then you’ll be able to understand what I’m about to tell you.

List of Chinese musical instruments

Have you ever messed around on a piano making “Chinese” music with just black keys?  You can even play the melody “Jesus Loves Me” doing this (the tune’s name is sometimes called “China”).  This is a kind of scale known as “pentatonic” which means 5 tones.

The pentatonic scale is a very ancient form of music that is still popular in the Far East and has been used in every corner of the world.  You can never make a mistake with those tones because nothing is pitched close enough to “fight” and grate your ears.  But it is limited in power.  It can’t really make you sad, happy, or angry.  The guitar, altos, or piano give “Jesus Loves Me”  non-pentatonic harmonies to help you feel the happiness.

The modern keyboard is based on the intervalli...

The modern keyboard is based on the diatonic scale

Along with that musical system, all the most ancient societies also used the same basic music system we use in the West.  You know the notes, CDEFGABC?  Those are the ones I’m talking about.  This is called the “diatonic scale” and it is built based on mathematical principles (that’s the first point where “technology” comes in).

The easiest way to see how this music is set up is to use a piano.  A base note, C (on the far left), followed by whole step, whole step, half step (no black key between), 3 whole steps, and a half step back to C.  Pythagoras, Bach and others have fiddled with the fine tuning for Westerners, but the idea is far older.

Any music that uses tones like a piano’s white keys gets the name diatonic scale.  When a melody ends on a different note, it is called a “mode,” but I’m not going to cross your eyes explaining them to you!

English: Harper playing before Shu Atum.

We know that the people of ancient Sumer (Babylonians) tuned their instruments to a type of diatonic scale.  The ancient Vedic Indians used it.  Ancient Egypt used this tuning system, but were most fond of all white keys from D to D.    Even the Chinese are known to have used this scale for some of their music.

So, did Pythagoras invent the diatonic scale in c550 BC? Was this tuning not used until Guido of Arezzo during the Middle Ages of Europe?  They were helpful , but no person outside the Bible can be credited with being the very first ever.

Jubal was the father of people who play the harp and flute.  Genesis 4:21b

If you really want to get into the math of music, you can check out Thinkzone’s 12-tone page and Uni. of South Carolina Music’s Pythagorean tuning.

 

Ancient Farming Terraces, England Wikimedia

Ancient Technology: Farming Terraces

The Banaue Rice Terraces in Luzon Island, Phil...

The Banaue Rice Terraces in Luzon Island, Philippines

I love mountains.  I also love stairs.  So, my first glimpse of mountains covered in rice terraces was thrilling!  Someday it would be really nice to visit some and experience them for myself (I may not have to travel so far, as you’ll see).

What I didn’t know s just how ancient these terraces are, and how common!

The most famous terraces are in the jungle of the northern Philippines.  My kids are just finishing up a missionary story about a lady who went to live in one of these valleys.  The people had been repairing and using their stone terraces for as far back as their memory went.  Our best guess is that they are 2 to 3 thousand years old.

Since I’ve run into some other terraces while studying other cultures, I decided to find out how old these terraces can be and how common they are around the world.  Here’s what I’ve found:

Terraces are a very efficient and reliable way to grow crops.  It is much simpler to divert mountain streams in times of low rain than to worry about flooding and drought. Terracing takes advantage of the warmer sunshine and air on the mountain sides.

Andenería en Moray (Perú)

Ancient terraces in Peru (we guess they were trying new techniques)

Have you ever grown a garden in a raised bed?  This takes advantage of the same conditions as a terrace.  You can control much more of the growing conditions with them.  The Incas even used different soils to grow different crops.  This is much easier in a small walled area.  There is even more on the Machu Picchu site, so please check it out.

These terraces are also the reason the mountain regions of Southeast Asia are able to support so many people.  I found a Water History page that starts out with an Evolutionary story of how they started working together in the first place.  We know that people have been forming societies since the very beginning.  The rest of the page is great at explaining the advantages these people have as well as the loss of individuality they suffer from being just one worker among many.

That’s the wonderful thing about following Jesus.  I am just a tiny part of His kingdom, but He is so big He cares about me more than I do!  What a great God to serve!

Just how many places did/do people use this kind of farming?  Have a look (I was completely blown away!):

English: Mountain of Ingushetia. Русский: Горн...

Mountain of Ingushetia showing ancient terracing (Russia, just north of Rep. of Georgia)

Although there are skeptics saying these terraces are all recent, that isn’t backed up by the facts.  As for how old these terraces could be, the paper on Malta says it all.  “Terrace construction methods have apparently changed little over time. It is only recently that some farmers have taken short-cuts and repaired terrace retaining walls with standard limestone building blocks.  Such repairs never last long.”

Our earliest ancestors were already very smart.  They were strong, cooperative (they were caring for their own family), and talented.  God’s Word predicts this kind of similarity beautifully.  He is trustworthy and cares for us!

Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.  O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.  Psalm 136:25,26

Skara Brae home entrance: Wiki Commons

Ancient Technology: Sewers?!!! Skara Brae and lots more

Skara Brae passageway near house 8.

Skara Brae passageway near house 8

My dad has an amazing library including a book I’ve just borrowed on Inventions.  They start way back in the “Stone Age” with needles, paint, pottery, boomerangs, and move on to more modern stuff like sewers. When I saw that page I knew I had to cover it here.

The book mentioned that they had sewers in Scotland about 3,000 BC by secular dating, but nothing more. So, I started a GoodSearch and found lots of stuff!

Scotland did indeed have homes with draining toilets almost as far back as people have lived there. One of the northern Orkney Islands has a collection of buildings known as Skara Brae (don’t miss this link, it has some great pictures). After living in the area long enough to have organic material (garbage) to insulate their homes with, the people built their homes completely of stone since there don’t seem to have been trees there (still aren’t any to this day). Here’s what the website says about these people:

“The relics that he and his companions collected along the way were convincing proof that the site was indeed ‘Stone Age’—not a scrap of metal was found. In fact, it dates to what is known as the Neolithic period, when people first began to farm.”

So, they know how long ago this must have been because they didn’t have any metal. Which would mean that if I move somewhere without any electronics, I must have lived in the 19th Century. But were these metal-less people stupid, almost-ape men? Have a look at this:

“They normally had small cells built into the walls, some of which were used for storage but there were a few with drains leading to  the outside which Childe believed to be lavatories. The drains from the individual huts emptied into a sewer system which connected the entire village.”

Orkney's Skara Brae

Orkney’s Skara Brae showing the dresser

All the regular houses also had something very much like a chest of drawers without the drawers. We can only guess whether this was for storage, or some sort of ceremonial platform (although no idols were found!). They also had some of those stone balls I wrote about earlier. Cool. The people who made these things were no dummies!

Eventually this village was abandoned for no reason that we can tell for sure. It’s as good a guess as any that it had to do with the end of the Ice Age that Dancing from Genesis specializes in covering (be sure to check out his webpage on the Ice Age, too).

Let’s have a short look at other early drainage/sewer systems:

Well

Indus Valley ancient Well

The most famous early sewer system was in the Indus Valley of western India/eastern Pakistan. They had a number of large cities with complex and well-designed wells and separate covered sewer systems. They knew how water flows and how to use this to their advantage to have a clean and well-functioning cities as far back as human history goes. This blog post has a bunch of great pictures and talks about this system. They were no dummies either!

The Minoans of Crete had a complex water system in their labyrinth palace at Knossos with covered drains, pipes, baths and flushing toilets. Lots of pictures can be found here at Sewer History. This civilization reached its flower during the Ice Age as well. Although this civilization is ranked later than the one in Scotland that is just because we have more ways to check, like known pottery styles and written histories. I bet if the Scots had written stuff down or had the money to import pots from the Mediterranean they would date to more recent times, too.

Here are some more civilizations that had sewers in ancient times:

Babylonia Turkey, Iran, Israel (follow link to the next page for Israel)

Egypt

Mayans (they may have had fountains, too)

China  plus 900 year old drain saves city from flooding and really ancient metal pipes from near a pyramid that the website says were put in by aliens (rather than by really knowledgeable early people).

Arabia

The past two years my oldest kids and I have read through Usbourne’s Book of World History. They did cover how the first cities in the Indus valley had good drainage systems, but they didn’t talk about proper sewers in civilizations until the Roman Empire. I wonder why they left this stuff out?

And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah  Genesis 4:20-22

My starting sources online were these two pages:

Sewer History: Tracking down the roots of our sanitary sewers

A Brief History of Toilets by ar.colton

Human Population and Creation vs Evolution

English: 2011 Chinese protests ‪中文(简体)‬: 中国茉莉花革命

Today was a rare day where I wasn’t already chomping at the bit to share something with you.  So I decided to see what the Institute for Creation Research is actively investigating right now.  If you want a short overview, you can check out ICR’s Bio-Origins Research and it’s mini-links to the four special areas they are looking into.  By the time this decade is up we should have a lot of information to help us stand strong in our belief in a single Creator with many similar but separate designs.

What really got me excited was a sort-of-technical article from ICR:  Conservation ethics based on evolution that talked about human population and the earth’s ability to support us all.   I don’t know how much you’ve heard about the “overpopulation crisis,” but not so long ago it was very popular to be frightened of the human pest problem on earth.  It still is popular in some circles.

financial portfolio review

So what’s the problem with more little people running around? Water, food, medicine, jobs. Some people believe that there is just so much to go around, so if I have more, you will have less. Now, this is a Creation Science site, not a political one, but sometimes these things interact. The truth is, if we could stop destroying our own homeland and our neighbors, there wouldn’t be a problem. If we would pass along God’s blessings as we are able and help one another rather than grabbing all we can for ourselves, there wouldn’t be a problem.

Smokestacks

Less you think I’m a raving leftist, it’s not Americans who shop at Wal-Mart that I’m talking about, it’s militias that hold their own countries’ citizens under their thumbs and communistic thinking that the earth is ours to exploit that is far more of a problem.  Apparently this isn’t something that many people want to admit anymore, but I did run into a book called Ecocide in the USSR that is willing to talk about that fallen government’s horrible care for its land and people.

The thing that I wanted to bring out to you is the difference Worldview has on our care for the land and our fellow man. China has been trying to cure its problems by murdering tiny babies before they are born.  But is this the only way to handle such problems?   Have a look at these pages:

Don’t tell me you’re in big trouble because you have just too many people to try to feed.  I  didn’t realize what I had discovered at the time, but if you look at the Chinese Flood legend, you will find how old this thinking is. For 1000s of years, the Chinese people have believed that babies dying and people being unable to have children were blessings given them to prevent another horrible flood.  They have thought God’s command was a curse for a very long time.

Map of precipitation regimes in the world

Map of precipitation regimes in the world

Now, to show you a different way to think about people and the land, have a look at Israel.  Israel has a population density of 803 people per square mile (sorry, I don’t know the metric equivalent) while China has a density of 365psm.  Any way you slice it, people are packed in a lot closer in Israel than in China.  Yet the only food stuff that they don’t manage to grow enough of to feed themselves is grain.  How do they do that without forcing their moms to only have one child or destroying their environment?  All while living in one of the driest areas of the world!

 

I rather liked what this article has to say about how Israel can help India (one of the world’s most densely populated countries) feed their people.  Their opening paragraph talks about how Israel combines all its areas of study to help produce the most food in the smallest space.  They are very good at using a little bit water and all of this requires only a few people to spend their time growing it.

Israel Farm_1312Learn more about:

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.  Genesis 1:28,29

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 

And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. Genesis 9:1-3,7

And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. Luke 14:22,23