We know that mankind has a history. Many of us studied this history at school or college. Did you ever wonder when the history of mankind began? That history began at 3150 BC. Why?
Mankind’s History Began at …
Everybody will tell you that the history of humanity started around 5,150 years ago. If you do not believe me, then look at any historic site, book, course, or textbook.
Of course, not the same wording would be used. The phrase would be like this. The history of mankind is a recorded history. In other words, our history began only when humanity invented writing.
Different sources pointed to slightly different dates of first known writings. An ‘Archaeology’, a publication of the Archaeological Society of America, and comprehensive ‘The Oxford Companion to Archaeology’ dates the first writing at 3,200 BC – 3,100 BC. The average of those two dates would be 3150 BC plus minus 50 years. In other words, according to conventional wisdom, the history of humanity began at 3150 BC. Counting from nowadays, in 2020, that was approximately 5,130 years ago.
First writing was recorded in Mesopotamia in clay tablets. Below is an image of a much later written record, which was done in 2,600 BC.
No doubt, the invention of writing was a breakthrough event in the history of humanity. Still, the question remains. Why “the first writing” was chosen? What about the time when humans managed to get control over fire? What about the date when people invented the wheel? There were a lot of important breakthrough events in the history of humanity. Yet, mankind settled on a notion that its history began with a first writing. We could read and hear this over and over.
Do Not Stop Questioning
All classifications in every area of mankind’s activity are done by people. Typically, classifications were introduced by somebody and those people provided reasons to put forward their classifications. That is true for the classification of species, or blog types, or whatever. Yet, it is different from the history of mankind.
I tried to find out who was the first to tie the beginning of the history of humankind to the invention of writing. I was not able to find it out who started this tradition to consider only the recorded history of humanity as a history at all. It is hard to see the roots of that tradition. Did we get an explanation of why we should believe that? No. We all know the saying that the old traditions die hard. Should we just accept that everything which happens with humans before the invention of writing is prehistory? Is it a “no questions asked” situation?
Albert Einstein famously said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”.
Convenience and Comfort for Everybody
Of course, the conventional choice could be explained. That reason is simple and very convincing. The magic word is convenience. It is much easier to work with historical facts and artifacts if you have written records about it. It is hard to work with only archeological or similar data. The history with existed written records is a comfort zone for everybody. Any choice of the beginning of the history of humankind as a date before a first writing will throw researchers and the public out of this comfort zone.
Well, that should not stop us from asking.
Is 3150 BC the Best Date Choice?
First writing was invented at around 3,200 – 3150 BC. What happens if the history of mankind started only at that time? Should we, at least, remind ourselves about the famous ‘Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater’ saying? You bet.
For example, many historians stated the Agricultural Revolution was a main event in world history. That is acknowledged across the board – from the “History Crunch” site, which provides content for history students and educators, to Yuval Harari’s books. When the Agricultural Revolution happen? Well, it began many thousands of years before writing was invented. If the history of mankind began at 3150 BC, then that revolution is thrown from the history of humanity into prehistory.
Is Broadly Accepted Always the Best?
We know that 3150 BC date as a date of the beginning of humankind history is the best one if we want to be in a comfort zone. However, it is not the best if we want to include most of the known important events in the history of humanity. What are our choices? Which parameters should we take into account if we want to change the date of the beginning of the history of humanity? How far a new date would be from a conventional date? That is food for thought.
Author: Victor Torvich
Short bio: In complex systems, Victor Torvich specialize in the complex system of humanity. He published several academic papers on this topic and many more papers are in a journal queue.
His upcoming “Subsurface History of Mankind” book reveals the direction of mankind’ development.
For More Details: https://vtorvich.com
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