The last factor that we will discuss that leads to most errors, limits and misunderstanding within the pursuit of historical knowledge is change. What do I mean by change? Maybe another word could be movement. Both change and movement impact where and how we live and settle and grow. Man has not always lived as we do today. Nor has man always lived in just one location, even ‘civilized’ man, and certainly not the hunter-gather ancestors of the Stone Age.
As the title implies we are going to discuss two ‘natural’ events that have HUGE impact on human location, movement, and lifestyle. The two natural events that we are going to discuss are Plate Tectonics and Ice Ages. Both events have a greater impact on our history than we give them credit for, mainly because we do not believe that modern man has lived through an Ice Age and most of the movement of Plate Tectonics is a very slow and gradual process. Yet, geologists will tell you that we are in an Ice Age, just that we are in the glacial minimum cycle of the current one.
I understand that at first look that Plate Tectonics might seem like a reach for studying human history, but the plates are still moving and those movements cause volcanoes and earthquakes and those events cause other natural disasters like tsunamis, floods, even mini Ice Ages. So while the movement of the plates is so slow that we do not notice in our lifetime. We do notice when their movement impacts our lives from the aforementioned events. Pompeii was buried under the ash and debris of Mt. Vesuvius’ 79AD eruption, thus ceasing to exist and falling into the pages of history. The Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 not only killed at least 230,000 people in 14 different countries with 1.6 million persons displaced; poor coastal fishing villages were the hardest hit, some literally washed off the map. Across the Indian Ocean remains of an ancient port city at Mahabalipuram on the south coast of India were uncovered when the layers of sand that had buried the area were washed away by the tsunami. This shows us that while Mother Nature can take away she can also give back.
Our other natural event that impacts human lifestyle are Ice Ages. Yes, I used the plural, cause I have a very open mind. That way if we find something new that predates the experts fact sheet, I can accept it based on its own merit and not debunk it cause it hurts my ego. What happens when Ice Ages occur is that new glaciers form and existing glaciers expand. When this happens a very noticeable amount of water is removed from the water cycle and thus from the bodies of water around the world. Why does this matter? It means that the coast lines change. They move further out, in other words, land masses appear to grow. For man, this means that fishing villages have to move to be near the coast again. Having less water in the water cycle will also show in lakes and rivers and watering holes. The temperatures are lower so there is less melt water in the summer and more snowfall in the winter. Less water will also mean less precipitation in certain areas thus changing the whole ecosystem and with that man in those affected ecosystems will have to either adapt or move. The big changes come when the Ice Age ends. When this happens, sometimes gradually and sometimes suddenly, usually though some combination of both, the water levels will increase a lot. The resulting impact is not only the loss of the physical presence of ‘new’ villages in certain coastal areas, but also the probability of high human loss in those new coastal areas, with the sudden changes.
The point to note is that Mother Nature can remove all traces of human presence in specific areas, like Pompeii, or in very broad areas, as in the Boxing Day Tsunami. And not every instance is recorded in written or even oral histories, so when we are given stories that tell of the amazing feats of Mother Nature they are worth listening too. Again keeping an open mind and using all resources available we might just find the most amazing discoveries yet. But again we have to have an open mind and shelf our arrogance. We have to accept what the evidence says and we need to not only be open to but actually encourage new conclusions when we have new knowledge or evidence or better or different testing methods.