February 8, 2012
to be posted on nobabies.net
Teschler-Nicola Maria
Director of Anthropology
Natural History Museum of Vienna
Burgring 7
1010 Vienna

Dear Teschler-Nicola Maria:

I have an odd request, which is not very important, but it would be nice.  I see you have in your collection an ancient green stone figurine called the Venus of Galgenberg.  Before I make my request, let me tell you why I am interested.

I think the facts prove that great civilizations die out.  You know better than anybody else how true this is.  The oldest rock art they say is in India and was carved 250,000 years ago, long before Homo sapiens.  Yet if there are any countries, of the hundreds that exist, that have had the same government for 250 years, I cannot think of them.  Anybody who can do rock art can organize people, so the survival record of governments is very bad.  Small groups do well.  They say that essentially all of the villages recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 are still present.  And tribes of Kalahari Bushmen within walking distance of each other are more genetically distinct than Europeans are from Asian.

And I think the facts will prove that the key to survival is fertility.  Societies die because their populations crash.  There were many “Venus”-like figurines at a time when there were figurines of nothing else.  These are believed to be fertility symbols.  So one might just take the ancient people who made them at their word and conclude that fertility was a bigger issue then than anything else was.  Many people say, “They had to have a lot of babies because so many died.”  But if that were true, we should have health symbols or harvest symbols. 

It is known that in order to have normal fertility you must have couples marry who are kin to each other.  (An Association between Kinship and Fertility of Human Couples Agnar Helgason et al. SCIENCE vol. 329 no. 5864 February 8, 2008 page 813 – 816)  For more references you may look at the Orlando posting on nobabies.net.  And it is known, according to the anthropologist Robin Fox (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-tribal-imagination/201107/kissing-cousins-mediogamy), that almost all the people we know about almost always married cousins until the recent past.  That makes sense.  You absolutely need enough babies if your society is to survive. 

Although small societies do very well, ones big enough to be called civilizations do very badly.  Here is a graph of the survival of all the civilizations of Southern Mesopotamia until the 20th century.  The vertical axis is the chance each civilization has of lasting another 50 years.  The horizontal axis is the age of the civilizations.

Information taken from R. H. Carling THE WORLD HISTORY CHART International Timeline Inc. Vienna, VA 1985.  The experience of Southern Mesopotamia.  The vertical axis is The chance of an empire of any age continuing to rule locally for another 50 years.  The horizontal axis is the ages of the empires. 

There is a brick wall at about 300 years.  I have found a similar limitation in other places.  (Look at the Orlando posting again.)  So you see this lack of countries 250 years old is not new. 

Now if you have a theory of history in mind it is probably one of two kinds.  1) Civilizations die because of things outside them, like the climate.  But if that were true, then the line should be horizontal; those things would happen independently of the age of any civilization.  Or 2) Civilizations die because of things within them, like the wrong politics, religion, respect for the environment, moral integrity and so forth.  But if that were true, the line should go up as the less excellent civilizations die out leaving behind those that are better and are less likely to fail. 

So if the cause is not in the civilization or outside of the civilization, the only thing left is that it must be because of the very fact of a civilization, which you can define as a whole lot of people cooperating. 

Of course we are now facing a fall in birth rate the world over.  I suppose there are indeed limits on how many people the earth can feed, but we aren’t starving yet.  We just aren’t having babies, and we are going down the same road that so many have gone before, at least a quarter of a million years and most probably for two million years.  At least the carver of “Fanny,” the figurine knew what was important.  We apparently do not.  Most people I talk to about this respond only with a prejudice against cousin marriages, even when given the facts I just recited.

People are attracted to cousins.  But they give up love for a prejudice.  And they are giving up life, in the long run, for prejudice. 

This is all dismal stuff, but it is my problem, not yours (or anybody else’s so far as I know).  But the figurine you have is obviously relevant to what I am doing.  I would like, with your blessing, to put a picture of Fanny on my web site nobabies.net.  Would that be all right?  Maybe she would attract the needed attention.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Fanny succeeds at her original purpose after all these years. 

Incidentally, a few years ago I saw a picture of a Neolithic figurine found in, I think, in Israel in a similar pose.  She was wearing what looked like pajamas.  I cannot find any reference to her on the internet and have begun to suspect that it was a hoax. 

Thank you very kindly,

M. Linton Herbert MD. 

There have been 43,675 visitors so far.

Home page