Middle Prehistory #1

This is roughly the period from 50,000 years BP to about 8000 BC. It is thought that during this period, modern humans were replacing Neanderthal man and expanding into the Americas. This was the latest Ice age. Oceans were at their lowest level, providing for a land bridge between Asia and North America.

In the 19th century, as the field of prehistoric archaeology was beginning to develop, archaeologists and anthropologists were primarily interested in Europe, with some interest in Asia. In the 20th century there was more attention given to African peoples, which has caused some revision of older concepts.

The primary focus of human and cultural development shifted from Africa to Asia. This was still the stone age, but social institutions presumably developed and cultural changes can be traced through artifacts that can be dated to this period. At present, I can most easily follow the Middle East. There are comparatively few developments in Egypt. Although I presume that the Nile river provided a convenient migration route from Africa, there have not been many remains of this period. Arabia and North Africa are still being considered in later periods.

In Africa, I am still concentrating on East Africa, although Northern East Africa takes priority over Central East Africa. I am working here on connecting Ethiopia. Northern East Africa is also being considered. For Southern Africa, I am still working the history of South Africa back through antiquity. For European civilization, I am considereing Balkan and Latin peoples, and bringing back the history of Greek peoples. I am also giving some attention to American Indian peoples.

I still don’t have much detail on the stone ages, although I am giving attention to institutional changes, cultural changes, and demographic changes such as migrations, and cultural innovation. What I term horticultural societies began to develop late in this period, although hunting and gathering societies predominated. Religion was mostly pagan, although I am not yet prepared to discuss details. I can begin to follow government and economics in this period, although the details are still fuzzy.

Early Prehistory #1

In order to begin at the beginning, I have been especially interested in the period I call early prehistory. This is a very long period, extending millions of years back into to the past, with an arbitrary cutoff ending at 50,000 years Before Present.

This has connections to prehistoric archaeology, which has developed in the 19th century, 20th century, and 21st century. I principally focus on African peoples, particularly Eastern African peoples, and more particularly on what I call Central East African nations. I have chosen to focus initially on Kenya. I am investigating its history, working backward through modern times, although Northern East African peoples such as those of Ethiopia and Interior East African peoples such as those of Sudan also need to be considered. As the principal alternate to Eastern Africa, I am working on Southern African peoples, and investigating South Africa back through classical and medieval times. The areas I refer to as Western Africa and Central Africa are thought to have been inhabited later.

Asian peoples are better developed in later periods, My primary focus in this period is on peoples of the Middle East. Egypt is best developed, since the Nile River valley seems a migration route for humanity through Interior East Africa, although it seems to have been sparsely inhabited and remains are fairly scanty. At present, I am working on sketching the Arabian peoples back through antiquity, since these are across the Red Sea from Northern Africa and may have been a migration route for humanity. North Africa is another possibility, although at present this is still having its history connected back through classical and medieval history. The peopling of South Asia, Southeast Asian and Oceanic peoples, Oriental peoples, and Central Asia will have to wait until they are better investigated in antiquity.

Western Civilization was only weakly developed in this period. There are signs of human habitation, although at present I am only working with Balkan peoples and connecting Greek peoples through antiquity and classical and medieval history. It is not thought that the Americas were inhabited in early prehistory.

Social changes and movements are for now restricted to Stone age developments. This will be considered in more detail in the future, as will institutional change and cultural change. Religion, government, and economics are being considered. Culture, anthropology, personal studies, and science are mostly being reserved for the future.

I might note that although I accept the Biblical account of human origins, it is not entirely easy to reconcile with modern archaeological or anthropological knowledge. There is not enough detail in the records that have come down to us to say when or where Adam and Eve and their named descendants lived.


For the past week, I have been head down and nose deep in developing my Knowledge Base with a emphasis on prehistory and early antiquity, which is why I haven’t kept up with my intended regular posting schedule. I keep wanting to start my historical studies from the beginning, This is slow going, because it often includes the development of later periods. In order to keep up with regular content, I am going to do a series of posts on particular periods of history, and include notes on what I am working on. Hopefully there are enough notes on the what and the why of my studies to be of some interest. I am numbering these, since they may be superseded by later developments when I get enough additional content to create a new post on the same period.

Fiction Snippet #6

Brother Simon, could I trouble you for a small favor?” asked the Vicar.
“What would you have me do?”
“One of my young brothers is excessively troubled by his own feelings of unworth. His confessions are too frequent and too lengthy, and there is little occasion for such sin as he imagines himself guilty of. He supposes what little penance I do require to be too little, and then imposes such measures on himself that he will surely do himself harm. I have other duties, but I am not sure how to help him. Perhaps you could speak with him. You have not visited our order long, but I have heard you speak. Your compassion and your understanding of scripture are both deep. You should be an abbot yourself.
“I should certainly not be an abbot. I am not sufficiently orthodox. Were I to speak freely, I would be declared a heretic in very short order. Besides that, my own vows require me to travel. I cannot stay long enough in any one place to lead an order.”
“That’s an odd kind of vow, and I have not heard you say anything amiss, but never mind. Surely there is something you could say. Brother Luther is highly intelligent and devout. I would hate to lose him to madness, or if he neglects or harms himself. ”
“Perhaps you might give him something to occupy his mind, rather than dwell excessively on his own faults. And then…” Simon paused.
“You have thought of something. Tell me”.
“Before there was a Church, there was Christ. There were then no priests, no confession, no penance. What He taught was repentance. Perhaps you should help him to see that he cannot torment himself into perfection with penance. While God is just, he is also merciful. Even to those who consider themselves undeserving. Especially to those.”
“You astonish me. That’s not what I expected to hear at all.”
“Do you see why I might be considered heretical? But It’s not unscriptural, especially if you look at the epistles of Paul. I would be willing to talk to your monk, but I think such counsel would be better coming from you.”

In the queue

For some time, I have been mildly interested in philosophy, and logic is a traditional part of it. So I got a Kindle copy of Aristotle’s “Organon”. I don’t have a great reverence or the Greek philosohers. A few years ago I attempted Plato and bounced. But Aristotle’s work is rather foundational for my own studies, so I think I ought to give it more attention. I took a look at the first entry in the Organon, “Categories” and thought. “I don’t like the organization”. So who do I think I am, rewriting Aristotle? That’s how I study and get the material to pass through my own brain and make some of it stick. We’ll se how it goes.

“When the Sahara was Green” by Martin Williams was recommended by an author I follow Aplam Boykin at her blog, “Cat Rotator’s Quarterly” and since I keep wanting to begin at the beginning with my stories, I have discovered an interest in Eastern Africa, including the eastern Sahara and the upper Nile region. We’ll see how that goes as well.


Today is one of those days. It’s a “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues” kind of day. Or maybe a “Song Sung Blue.”

My father would have been 84 today. I never had an easy relationship with him. Walt Whitman’s words might fit:

“Have you learned the lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who braced themselves against you, and disputed passage with you?”

And indeed I learned great lessons from my father. Perhaps one day when I too have passed on, the two of us will finally be reconciled. Until then, the closest I can come is one of his favorite songs: “Grandfather’s Clock.”

Logical Musings #8

As well as the standard negation of Polish logic, it is possible to define two others: A strong negation, which is ordinarily expressed as “Not Possible”, and a weak negation, which is ordinarily expressed as “Not necessary”. Normally I don’t use them. However, they do have use.

I had mentioned in one of the earlier posts in this series that I had read about a number of controversies on the foundations of mathematics. A Dutch mathematician named L. E. J. Brouwer had in the early 1900s created his own philosophy of mathematics, which he termed intuitionism, in which he rejected the law of the excluded middle. His student Arend Heyting gave an axiomatic basis for this variant of mathematical logic. Although this has never gained the support of most mathematicians, it remains an area of some interest. What I found was that at least one version of the Heyting axioms of Intuitionistic Propositional Logic could be expressed as theorems of Polish logic, if I used a strong negation instead of the standard.

There is also a branch of logic termed “Fuzzy logic”, which assigns numeric degrees of truth to propositions. The truth table are constructed so that a logical “AND” has the value of the highest truth truth value of the propositions being combined, and a logical “OR” has the lowest. The principle obstacle to adoption seems to be indecision on the nature of the conditional. However, if all the degrees between true and false are expressed by the single value U, This is remarkably similar to the Polish logic. The algebra of the Polish logic and the algebra of fuzzy logic both belong to a class known as deMorgan algebras, which is similar to Boolean algebra but lacks the complementation laws, which unsurprisingly are equivalent to the law of the excluded middle and law of bivalence.

The absence of the law of the excluded middle makes the standard mathematical proof by contradiction tricky. This connected to negation introduction or negation elimination rules in natural deduction systems. A possible set of natural deduction rules can be formulated for the Polish logic, but it requires a stronger contradiction: possible and not possible, necessary and not necessary, or even necessary and impossible.

This also has connection to the field known as paraconsistent logic.

As with classical logic, this can also be extended by the use of propositional functions applied to particular objects or sets of objects to predicate logic.

In spite of the versatility of this system, it still isn’t quite enough to capture traditional modal logic. In particular, with only three values, it is not possible to capture the distinction between “contingently true” and “contingently false”. However, it may clarify the way such a system would need to be constructed.

Many of these subjects are rather technical, and I would welcome a discussion with other experts on logic. However, of all the people I know, few are interested in symbolic logic at all, and none of those interested in closely examining my results.

There are a few avenues I have yet to pursue, but for now, this will end my series of musings on logic. Perhaps I will go back to Aristotle and pick up the thread of historical investigation.

Fiction Snippet #5

Simon sat in the tavern, listening to the merchants gossip about various speculative ventures. Two of them were right now discussing the spice trade. “Since Constantinople fell to the Turks, it’s been much harder to get shipments through Syria. That’s why the Portuguese are trying to find a way around Africa. ” “Yes, they get a little bit further every year, but they haven’t found a way yet”. “And then there’s this Colombus fellow.” “I haven’t heard of him.” “Oh, he tried to get the king of Portugal to finance an expedition of reaching the East by sailing west. My patron heard about it. The king turned him down, his council decided the fellow’s geography was wrong, he thinks Cathay is about a fourth the distance away most geographers think. But I hear he’s a most bold and persistent fellow and keeps talking the idea up.”

Simon’s brain whirled. The geographers were right, of course. He had been there and measured the positions. Besides that, the unknown Western lands were in the way and there was no way through. He had walked their bounds long ago. But he usually went the long way around, using short hops from port to port. He wasn’t bold enough for these great leaps into the unknown, and a long sea voyage had its own dangers. These Europeans didn’t have a clue about the special diet needed to survive without getting diseased. They also didn’t have his tricks of navigation and sailing. His secrets were still his own, although more and more of them were being discovered. No, this Colombus fellow wouldn’t reach Cathay or India by sailing west, although if he got the expedition financed, and if he were very lucky, he might find something else even more world changing. This was something Simon needed to observe.

Old & New

It’s been a while since I rewatched the “The Lord of the Rings” movies. I saw the first and second, I couldn’t quite get through the third, but I may give it another try. I also picked up the first two episodes of “The Rings of Power”. Unlike most of the commentators whose reactions I have glimpsed, I didn’t think it was that bad. I also rewatched the 1986 miniseries “A Little Princess”. The original short story was in a collection of children’s literature my parents used to own. I reread the extended book shortly after the miniseries came out and found the series remarkably faithful to the book. There are a couple of screen versions I rather detest for the liberties they took with the story. Yes, I’m looking at your version, Shirley Temple, although you aren’t to blame for what the scriptwriters did. The 1996 remake had no such excuse. I also watched “The Devil Wears Prada”, which I had heard about a while ago and never seen. Between Amelia Shankley and Anne Hathaway, I figure I’m much too old to have crushes on actresses, who in real life have little to do with the characters they play on screen. But…doggone it, I can’t help it. Just a little bit.

In reading, J.A, Jance came out with a new one, “Nothing to Lose” featuring retired detective J.P. Beaumont, and there was a 3-Novella collection “Sinister Secrets” featuring stories by Traci Hunter Abramson, Clair E. Poulson, and Paige Edwards that I liked. Poulson also had a new one, “Critical Consequences”. A decent police procedural, although perhaps not quite up to his usual standard. The ending was rather weak.

The Paper Sea

This got dropped in response to one of my comments at AtH. I’ve encountered Leslie Fish’s music before, she’s quite well known in filking circles (Science Fiction and Fantasy folk music) but I hadn’t seen this one. I have spent enough time in various social welfare offices that I can testify this isn’t just poetry.