Friday, March 15, 2019

Civilisation Judas - Ancient Avatars of the Medieval World

Civilisation Judas - Chapter 4 - Ancient Avatars of the Medieval World

At the end of the last chapter I promised that I would explain the economic shift that precipitated the possible mass migration of people and ideas from the Middle East into Europe. However, I've decided I'll leave that until the next chapter, as I've realised it may be wise to devote a chapter to explaining how and why I can brush aside accepted history with a casual wave of my hand.

Now I tend to be quite open minded when it comes to the timeline of human history. It's not so much that I don't believe the established academic version, but more that there are other alternatives that I think are more likely. Or at the very least necessary tweaks that could be made to the generally established view. One case in point - and the case that's relevant to the themes touched upon in this book - is the apparent "Dark Age" which preceded the medieval period.

The official version of European history goes something like this; firstly you have the high civilisation of ancient Greece and Rome. This is then followed by a period of massive decline, generally called the Dark Ages. After this we then have the medieval period, following which we then have a return to high civilisation with the mighty Renaissance ..since which humans in Europe generally haven't looked back.

Now the Dark Ages are said to have been dark because very little happened, culturally speaking. Or rather, to put it a little better, the historical record is somewhat blank for the period. We have a few textual accounts written by later writers of what was said to have been going on, but it's all very scant and iffy. Since we find ourselves with this badly illuminated, centuries-wide gap in the historical record academics simply assume that there must have been something going on. Consequently whole industries and disciplines have been built up with the sole purpose of filling this gap or speculating about it. However, the question arises, if there is so little evidence for anything actually happening, then why do we believe this period happened at all? What if we have hundreds of years of history simply inserted by hook or by crook into the historical record that were never there to begin with.

In short, what if the dating system itself is wrong?

Now this isn't a thought original to me, many modern writers have written on this topic suggesting various amendments to the current accepted timeline. With the idea that history is wrong or confused in someway becoming increasingly common in alternative circles - if not in the world of academia itself sadly. [1] In fact, when historians started compiling history into its current form about four or five hundred years ago the whole timeline was up for debate. The process being something of a jigsaw puzzle, with all the various pieces of history being allotted their various places in the grand scheme of things.

Today we just tend to assume that everyone has been using the same dating system from day one, but of course that was never the case. Historic texts were often dated simply in relation to the king or ruler who reigned at the time, or often not even dated at all. People during the days of the Roman Empire weren't writing 250 A.D. at the top of their texts, nor was anyone else for hundreds of years after that. The practice of using Anno Domini itself was said to have been started by the monk Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, and then popularised by the famed Venerable Bede a few centuries later. Though again, with the darkness and sparseness of the Dark Ages it's impossible to know just how popular it was. Or if that was indeed the case at all.

In reality various calendars and dating practices were in common use all across the many cultures of Europe right up until the middle ages and beyond. So the process of amalgamating all the various texts, traditions and historic artefacts of European history into one coherent, flowing timeline was something of an onerous task for the Renaissance era historians who attempted it. A process that was made even more difficult by the task of getting that history to fit in with the wider history of the world in general, and with Biblical history too.

Of course, the towering king-like figure in European history is Jesus Christ, and it's no coincidence that we ended up dating everything in relation to him. In fact, it's amazing that no one seems to find it the least bit odd that the Julian Calendar was created just in time for the birth of Christ. The Julian calendar was said to have been implemented by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, and then amended by his successor Augustus in the years following. It was the dominant calendar in the European world until it was superseded by the similar, but slightly improved Gregorian calendar in the 16th century. [2]

To me it seems just a little bit coincidental that the pagan Romans managed to create a whole new calendar just in time for the birth of little baby Jesus. This one fact alone would make me question the validity of the dating system we have, but nevertheless people seem to just accept that that's the way it all happened. Without the slightest thought, or even a pause for breath. Even science-minded academics seem to accept this Christ-centred calendar without question.

Christianity is two thousands years old, the calendar we use is also two thousand years old - and it was implemented two thousand years ago by non-Christians. The odds are quite impressive. It's easy to imagine how Christians could put this down to divine provenance of some description, but it's a little harder to forgive academics for their lack of curiosity. Surely it's at least worthy of investigation?

This calendar coincidence, along with the "no show" of the Dark Ages, does provide a wonderful opportunity for academic outsiders to revise things though. My general view is that we can simply dismiss anything pre the medieval period as largely "unknown" - or at best as "vaguely" known. Which then means we can try to fit most of the written European history into the period of the last thousand years or so - and that includes the writings of the "ancient" Greeks and Romans.

Now for clarity here I should say that this is by no means a fixed view I have, more just a bias towards that line of thinking. Nor, again, is it an original view. As I wrote earlier many others have suggested a similar view point. Most notably the Russian revisionist Anatoly Fomenko with his New Chronology series of books.

The idea that the works of ancient Greece and Rome are products of a much later time may sound an odd concept to those unfamiliar with it, however it appears much more rational once the novelty and heresy of the idea is overcame. For a start just consider that mainstream timeline once again. The high civilisation of Greece and Roman, then a thousand years of relative darkness, then high civilisation once again. This time courtesy of the Renaissance, itself inspired by the high civilisation of ancient Greece and Rome.

So, in effect, Europeans created high art, sculpture, architecture, literature. Then completely forgot how to do it. Then started remembering again a thousand or so years later. Compare this to European history after the medieval period. From the medieval period to the modern period there's a linear progression. In art, technology, music, architecture and everything else. For example, medieval art looks primitive in comparison to Renaissance art, and we see a gradual improvement in things such as technique and perspective from the medieval to the Renaissance period. Then following this things continuing progressing in skill and technology all the way through to modern photography and Photoshop. This is a progression that can easily be seen, that makes sense, and that has no large gaps in its record. One continual sequence of graded improvement. However, with the timeline from the ancient world to the medieval (and then into the Renaissance) that same progression is absent, and everything is jumping about back and forth. Art from ancient Rome looks massively superior to medieval art, and both of which put the lack of art in the Dark Age period to shame.

It's almost like if an extra century of time had been accidentally inserted between the 19th and 20th centuries. People looking back in a thousands years time would see people with a high degree of technological advancement in the 19th century, followed by a century where people completely forgot how to utilise electricity and literacy. Then followed by another century where people immediately invented the aeroplane. It would be reasonable for those people looking back to suspect that perhaps their historic timeline was somewhat screwy.

Of course, that wouldn't necessarily mean that the inserted one hundred years definitely didn't happen. It's plausible and possible that societies can advance, then regress, then re-advance again. Just as it's perfectly plausible that a period of Dark Age regression could have occurred in the middle of European history. In fact, that's so plausible that for the last five hundred years or so plenty of intelligent men and woman have believed just that. However, it does mean that the possibility that the timeline is messed up in someway is something worthy of study and investigation. It would be a reasonable thing to consider.

The parallels are quite obvious once one begins to look. For starters the ancient Roman and Greek cultures have their later parallels in the Holy Roman Empire in the west and the Greek Byzantine Empire in the east. Then when we look further we often find that the evidence for the famous figures and ideas of the ancient world tend not to actually date back much further than the medieval period.

A good case in point is the famed astronomer and geographer Claudius Ptolemy. He was said to have lived in the 2nd century AD, however his famous text, the Geography, "disappeared" for a thousand years after its completion. No copies from his own time have survived, but it "reappeared" in 13th century Byzantium. On top of this there are no contemporary accounts of his life, nor any contemporary statues or depictions of him. [3]

It's a familiar story with most our ancient texts. You may opine; "but how could so many historians so badly misdate so much history?". However, the reality is that most modern historians haven't really consciously dated anything. Rather they have just repeated the datings handed down to them by the previous generation of historians. Who in turn were handed down their datings from their previous generation, and so on and so forth. Not especially different to the way all traditions and beliefs are handed down from one generation to the next. You are told Ptolemy lived his life in the 2nd century AD, so any text or idea attributed to the man must also date from that time.

As for how these individual texts or the various people who were said to have written them came to be thought of as "ancient" there are numerous possible explanations. Some are no doubt simply unfathomable and lost in the darkness of time, others quite easy for us to see and understand.

Simple mistakes, accidents, acts of fraud and fakery, wishful thinking. [4] All these things can lead to items being misrepresented as something other than they are. Perhaps the most potent driver of such misrepresentation is the human tendency to put great value on things that are "old". Which often leads us to desire that the things that we possess or put value in are much more ancient than is really the case. That look on a person's face when they're told on the Antiques Roadshow that their antique vase isn't quite as old as they thought it was is a classic example. It's still the exact same vase, but somehow it ceases to be as beautiful. The lack of heritage and prestige makes it less desirable, and likewise less expensive.

Similarly a written text, whatever its content, will have more value to people if they're told it was written by Aristotle in the world of ancient Greece, than if it was scribbled by Steve from Rochdale relatively recently. In fact, Aristotle is another great case in point. There are countless texts attributed to the Greek philosopher. All of which were, as a matter of fact, said to be the work of the legendary man when they were first in circulation in the middle age or Renaissance period. However, thanks to numerous anachronisms and inconsistencies, many are now deemed by historians to be the work of other authors. These works are now stated to be the work of various pseudo-Aristotles - a general cognomen given to the unknown authors to distinguish these works from the works of the "real" Aristotle. A real Aristotle who was said to be the tutor of the famed Alexander the Great no less. [5]

It's similar with the works attributed to Caesar. He was said to have authored numerous works during his lifetime, though only five such have survived. All of which are war commentaries - essentially journals of his conquests. Modern scholars believe that two of these, The Gallic Wars and The Civil War were written by the man himself. However, the other three works, though classically attributed to him, are now thought to be the work of other authors. [6] Now you would think that the doubt over three of the works would lead scholars to doubt the veracity of the other two, but no. For instance, were I to tell you that I owned five paintings by Rembrandt and you discovered that three were not Rembrandts at all would you be willing to put your faith (and your cash) in the provenance of the other two? Scholars, however, are not so cynical it seems. Plus everyone wants these to be the work of Caesar, so it would take a hard heart to come and spoil the party.

The art analogy is quite a good one actually, and the large amount of fakery in the art world is something we're all much more familiar with. The motive is obvious. You have art dealers and connoisseurs searching out lost works by the past masters. Likewise you have modern artists with abundant technical skill, but doomed to wallow in poverty painting their unwanted works. The temptation to paint something in the style of a dead great and pass it off as a genuine work is perfectly rational - if not somewhat illegal and amoral. The artist makes some money and gets the smug satisfaction of seeing his work sitting in a gallery amongst the greats. The patrons get their much longed for masterpiece. The dealer gets his cut. The market forces alone make it rational to suspect, if not presume forgery when any new painting is miraculously discovered.

The same market exists for ancient texts and no doubt the same levels of forgery have abounded. The formula exactly the same;

Famous name + very old = very expensive

It's perhaps reasonable to suspect that most of our historical artefacts are fake, or at the very least misdated and misattributed. I have a guitar in my attic that once belonged to Chuck Berry. You may not believe me, but someone else may - and they may be willing to pay good money based on that belief. Once they've bought it their faith will no doubt be further entrenched. Who would want to admit to themselves, let alone to others, that something they've invested so much time, money and emotion in was a simple act of fabrication all along? Is a statue or document in the British Museum any different to this? Is the emotional and financial investment not somewhat similar, if not even greater?

There's also another very human tendency that I think may play a large part in this confusion we see between the medieval and ancient world. This is the desire for anonymity. Imagine you're a writer expressing your opinions in the medieval world. Would you necessarily want everyone to know that you were the author? Especially if you were living in a time of religious intolerance or persecution. It's quite likely you'd be tempted to use some kind of pseudonym. There's likewise the desire to have an attractive, impressive sounding name when you're publishing something. This is true both for the actual author, and for the publisher trying to sell the books. Johannes Ferrarius sounds a lot more impressive than John Smith, and no doubt would've sold a lot more volumes.

This Latinisation of names, along with the other various pseudonyms people may have used, could have often led to confusion on the part of later readers and historians. For example, it would be quite easy for someone to find a "John Smith" in the historical record, living in let's say rural England, and simply not realise that this seeming rustic bumpkin also wrote texts under the fancy-sounding name Hermeticus the Great, or whatever the case may have been. It would be easy, and perhaps quite likely, that a person would just assume that these two names found in the historic record were two completely different people. Perhaps even two people living in completely different centuries.

It's much like with the Internet today. People often use various exotic-sounding avatars when they're gaming or expressing their opinions online. DominatorX339 on Twitter may in fact be Greg the accountant from down the road, but you'd never know this from simply viewing his profile. This anonymity allows us to express our views with less fear of repercussion. It also allows us to present an image of ourselves to the wider world that we feel will be more successful or appealing. Or that just looks and feels cooler.

Avatars also allow us to indulge our fantasies to some extent. In fact, you could argue that the ancient world was in some sense a fantasy world created in the text books of medieval and Renaissance writers. A virtual world where novel and controversial ideas could be expressed and explored without fear of repercussion. Where social and political structures could be shared and envisioned, and where personal fantasies could be enacted out. A Humanist precursor to the fantasy worlds we indulge ourselves in online today. Perhaps these Humanist authors then helped make these fantasies become political reality to some extent in the heady days of the Renaissance, and thereafter.

Today it seems we place our visions for society in the future. We create our futuristic Science-Fiction, then chase those utopian, technological visions in reality. In past times it seems they placed their visions in the past as examples to be copied. Did ancient Greek democracy really exist the way we're told it did? Maybe not. Yet by the same token we could also ask; would we have democracy today if such a vision wasn't set out and explored in these supposedly ancient texts? Perhaps the belief people had in the reality of these ancient, more enlightened times gave them the confidence to believe that such worlds could be recreated in the present.

In a way it makes perfect sense. You could perhaps even describe such faked history (if indeed it was faked) as a noble lie. If you tell someone they should fight for their liberty they'll do it more readily if they feel they have an ancient tradition pertaining to that liberty. It sets a precedent that proves it has been done, therefore it can be done again. Without which the task may just appear as a hopeless dream.

If people feel like they've had something stolen they'll fight for it back, but if they never had it to begin with they'll lack the confidence that they can ever have it. It's like if you tell someone who's earning £15 an hour they should ask their boss for a pay rise. They'll feel like they're taking a liberty and will balk at asking for an increase. However, if you tell them that the guy doing the job before them was getting £20 an hour they'll feel smited and demand parity. This is perhaps why inflation is such a grand illusion. It gives us all the impression that we're earning more money than our forebears, though quite often the opposite may indeed be the case.

Returning to pseudonyms, it's also worth nothing that today authors often write under pen names for similar reasons. In fact, I could be writing under a pen name right now. The question would then be how would someone reading this know if I was or wasn't? Would they be bothered, and would they bother going to the effort to find out even if they were? Most people generally take things on face value, simply because it's much easier and much less time consuming. This is another tendency that makes it easy to fool people, either accidentally or on purpose. It stands to reason that the whole of history is filled with such misunderstandings and twisted knots. So once again, it's always reasonable to try to have an open mind. It's far too easy to be wrong about something.

Just for the record I'm not writing under a pseudonym ..nor would I ever mis-sell a guitar as once belonging to Chuck Berry.



******************************

Notes/references.

[1] As I go on to mention later in the text, the most noted proponent of this idea is the Russian mathematician and historian Anatoly Fomenko. In his New Chronology theory he essentially compresses the last three thousand years or so of history into just the last one thousand. Claiming amongst other things that Jesus Christ was actually crucified during what we now call the medieval period. Some of his claims are highly unorthodox, but it's fascinating stuff, which I highly recommend. Though I should warn some of his books can be quite heavy going.

A further such proponent of timeline revisionism, though not quite to the same extent that Fomenko goes, is the German historian Heribert Illig. He claims that 297 extra years were artificially inserted into the calendar, covering the period from AD 614 - AD 911. An idea generally now known by the moniker phantom time hypothesis. Again, an idea well worth investigating.

The writer I would probably most recommend on such topics is the English author M J Harper. His works The History of Britain Revealed and Meetings with Remarkable Forgeries are perhaps the most relevant ones in regard this chapter. The History of Britain Revealed in particular highlights some of the problems with the accepted history vis-à-vis Roman Empire to Dark Age to medieval period. Though in this case in regards the evolution and history of the English language. His books are also highly readable, so they're quite an enjoyable ride too.

[2] To give a quick Wikipedia style overview. The Gregorian calendar was first introduced in the year 1582. It was named after Pope Gregory XIII, under whom it was introduced. It corrected the Julian calendar by shortening the average year by 0.0075 days. Stopping the calendar from falling out of sync with the natural yearly cycle. To correct for the drift the Julian calendar had already accumulated the calendar was advanced 10 days. So the 4th October 1582 was followed by the 15th October 1582. Adding a further layer of complexity to the historical record.

[3] I came across this particular example in a very interesting and useful book titled A History of the World in Twelve Maps by Jerry Brotton;

"After its completion, Ptolemy's Geography disappeared for a thousand years. No original copies from Ptolemy's own time have survived, and it only reappeared in thirteenth-century Byzantium.."

Continuing further;

"Turning to Ptolemy's biography to try to understand the significance of his book offers little help. Virtually nothing is known about his life. There is no autobiography, no statue, not even an account written by a contemporary."

[4] Another factor worth mentioning, which I alluded to slightly in Chapter Two, though have avoided in this one, is political motive i.e. the deliberate falsification or destruction of history for reasons of realpolitik. This is quite a commonly understood theme. Be it royals and rulers commissioning works of history that legitimise their reign, the stifling of dissident opinion, or the burning of heretical books. In fact, the concept is so familiar in the wider public consciousness that one would expect to find more scepticism of the historical record in general.

[5] Aristotle was said to have lived from 384 BC to 322 BC. The texts falsely attributed to him are numerous and could fill a chapter in of themselves. Notable ones include Aristotle's Masterpiece, now dated to just the late 17th century. De Proprietatibus Elementorum (On the Properties of the Elements), now believed to date from the 9th or 10th century, and to originally have been the work of an Arab author. The Secretum Secretorum - a treatise purporting to be a letter from Aristotle to his student Alexander the Great, a cherished theme in Aristotelian lore. Modern scholars believe it likely that this one also began life as a 10th century Arabic work, which was later translated into Latin ..and so the list continues.

[6] These other three works are De Bello Alexandrino (On the Alexandrine War), De Bello Africo (On the African War) and De Bello Hispaniensi (On the Hispanic War). Oddly, amongst Caesar's now lost works were said to be works of poetry - he had a sensitive side apparently. This is in keeping with the above noted high culture and apparent literacy of Alexander the Great. Perhaps suggesting that we're in the realms of fiction and romance here, rather than actual historic record. Again though, it may be the case that all these figures existed as written. Or a question of something in between. Either way it's not unreasonable to doubt such things.

Further chapters can be found here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Civilisation Judas - Juropean or Middle Eastern?

Civilisation Judas - Chapter 3 - Juropean or Middle Eastern?

In the first chapter we discussed the difference between the landed aristocracy and a hypothesised city-based aristocracy. With the general theme being that "Jewishness" emerges from within culture via the development of cities. However, this idea somewhat clashes with the general idea that the Jews in Europe arrived from elsewhere, and originated in the Middle East. In this chapter I'll explain why these two ideas aren't mutually exclusive, and how the reality is probably something of an overlap between these two processes.

We may start off with a simple premise;

Cities are more genetically diverse than the surrounding countryside.

So if we take a modern example. Let's say England. Both the cities and the countryside are predominantly white native English. However, over time immigrants arrive. These immigrants have a general tendency to settle in towns and cities, as that's where the major opportunities are. As more time passes integration occurs to varying degrees, with native white people settling down and having children with the immigrant populations. Eventually leading to these immigrant populations blending into the wider population.

As a consequence, assuming the immigration isn't overwhelming, the towns and cities will remain predominantly white English, however, they'll be slightly less so than the lesser-mixed people in the countryside.

Now this is something of an oversimplification of course. It's also perhaps a slightly poor example given how quickly the demographics of England are currently changing. So forgive me if you're reading this at some point in the future and the idea of a predominantly white England seems a little passé. The point is a useful one though, and highlights how cities can have a much more international make-up than the wider country they belong too. You only need to look at places such as London and New York, and then compare the make-up of those cities to leafier or more rural parts of southern England or east coast America.

If we follow the hypothesis that Jewish people are, or were, effectively a city-based class of some description, then we may surmise that they'll be especially influenced by this cultural and ethnic mixing that takes place in cities. Trade links develop between cities, and cultural links develop between the traders and financiers conducting this trade. This in turn may lead to intermarriages between families. Both as a consequence of arranged marriages for economic and social reasons, or simply as a consequence of personal relationships developing naturally. A trader may travel to another town or city to do business, and then meet the daughter or sister of another trader for instance. Leading to marriage and perhaps children.

Over time this process may lead to, say, English trading families, living in England, having a slightly more diverse genetic make-up than the average English family. Due to the marriages and family ties that have developed with other trading families in other cities and towns, perhaps even towns and cities in much more far flung places. Of course, to all intents and purposes they'll still look largely indistinguishable from most other English families. However, over time it's possible that small noticeable differences may accrue. In fact, we can see a similar thing with the traditional, landed aristocracy.

For example, the wealthy English upper-classes look to all intents and purposes like the rest of the English population. However, there are some slight noticeable differences that people will often make reference to. Either consciously or subconsciously. Such as the fact that aristocratic people tend to be taller than their poorer compatriots. People also often allude to the fact that aristocratic people tend to look a bit "horsey". This idea that the landed aristocracy look "horsey" in some way is a little bit silly, and it's a hard thing to quantify in any reasonable sort of way. However, it's something we all intuitively understand, even if it's just as a vague generalisation. We kind of understand what people mean when they point out this caricatured "horsey-ness".

So, are these slightly, almost imperceptible differences a consequence of the intermarriages between European aristocrats over the centuries, and their relative separation from the lower classes of society? Or perhaps are they a consequence of the differing lifestyles these people have lead over successive generations compared to the rest of the population? Or are they just figments of our imagination - the result of our cultural stereotypes and prejudices? It's difficult to tell, yet we carry these stereotypes and prejudices nonetheless.

I would suggest that a similar process is perhaps partly responsible for the slight differences that are noted between Jews and the wider non-Jewish populations they often find themselves amongst. The "Middle Eastern" features of European Jews could be due to the trade links (and consequent marital links) reaching across Europe and into the Middle East. Leading to a gene flow across the continents. Likewise, some of the other Jewish stereotypes could be in part due to successive generations of Jews living in urban or city conditions. Such as the stereotype that Jewish people are less inclined to physical activity, and more suited to academic and legal pursuits.

Of course, city living and city professions tend to require lots of time indoors, as opposed to agriculture and other countryside pursuits. So perhaps centuries of exposure to such lifestyles could lead to a natural predisposition towards those type of things. Or at the very least a cultural bias towards such living. The wearing of glasses and the high levels of literacy in Jewish societies are other stereotypes that could be similarly explained. In fact, this literacy aspect is something I'll be returning to in later chapters.

Now the above are all quite crude stereotypes of course. Vague generalisations that may simply disappear under closer inspection. However, the stereotypes, like the ones regarding the landed aristocracies mentioned earlier, are all ones we can easily recognise. So perhaps there are some grains of truth underpinning them. Though whether these grains be genetic or purely cultural is once again hard to tell. Either way, the stereotypes require an explanation even if they're wrong, and the explanation that they're a product of urban living in some ways is quite a rational one I believe.

So, to summarise this brief chapter, and to answer the question its title poses, I would propose that European Jews are both Middle Eastern and European - though I would lean towards the idea that they are predominately European, particularly with regard to the "Jewish" communities we see mentioned in medieval texts. A product of city living - a la the "city aristocracy" process - and the trade links and people flow between trading towns and cities. Trade links perhaps reaching from Europe to as far as the Middle East and maybe even beyond.

As for the commonly accepted version of history, and its view that there have been mass Jewish migrations into Europe from the Middle East, I would also consider this as a possible part of the explanation too. Though I would argue that this possible migration (of people, ideas, and perhaps also religions) is a consequence of a huge economic shift that is much overlooked. An economic shift that will require something of a revision to the commonly accepted historic timeline if its importance is to be appreciated and understood. All will be elucidated in the next chapter.

Further chapters can be found here.

Civilisation Judas - Judas of the North

Civilisation Judas - Chapter 2 - Judas of the North

In this chapter I'm going to explain what first led me to the thoughts in this book, as I feel this will be the quickest and most lucid way of providing context.

Strangely enough my original topic of interest was the history of red hair. [1] When I first began researching that history one of the things that struck me was the traditional depiction of Judas. In early art the figure of Judas was often depicted with red hair and red beard. He looked not only European, but also stereotypically northern European. This struck me as quite odd at first. It didn't really fit with the Biblical image of Judas that I had in mind at the time. Why would the archetypal villain in Christian folklore come replete with red beard?

I also discovered that many of the negative stereotypes associated with Jews in European folklore also had their parallels in stereotypes regarding red hair. For example, it was commonly believed that redheads were untrustworthy, and there were many traditional sayings and proverbs attesting to this idea. Take the following medieval proverb - "Si ruber est fidelis, diabolus est in coelis" (If the redhead is faithful, the devil is in heaven). [2]

As I looked into this history further I also discovered that red hair wasn't uncommon amongst Jewish populations in Europe, and that particularly in places such as Poland red hair was often more frequent amongst Jews than amongst the native population. [3] I also found traditions concerning the "Red Jews" of Eastern Europe, often equated with the Khazars, who were believed to be so named because of their red hair.

All these unexpected overlaps between red hair and Jewishness led me to question the wider mainstream history. The generally accepted view is that the vast majority of Jewish people in Europe are descendants of people that arrived in Europe from the Middle East at some point in the last few thousand years or so. However, the odd relationship with red hair would perhaps suggest that this isn't entirely the case. After all, red hair is hardly common in Middle Eastern regions. It's also generally associated with areas of low sunlight.

If we look at European history from the medieval period onward, when the written record really starts to take shape (i.e. after the Dark Ages), we can see that Jewish populations existed in Europe alongside every other European group. In essence they're there in Europe from the beginning of the historical record. Now it's speculated that these populations arrived in Europe before this period, however no one knows quite when or how they arrived. With some historians speculating that they spread through Europe with the Roman legions, others stating that they came much later. Either way it's all just unevidenced speculation. I would flip this view and say if there's no evidence of them actually arriving from somewhere else then why not just assume that they've always been there? Or at least been there as long as any other group.

This leads to another interesting parallel that I noticed when looking at the history that may also play into all this, and that concerns similarities between the historical Jews and the Druids. This parallel may sound odd at first. However, when you look at the historical record it becomes much more apparent.

For a start medieval Jews were forced to wear pointed hats and stars on their clothes in order to differentiate themselves from the rest of the population. Again this would suggest that they didn't look sufficiently different so that people could easily distinguish between Jew and non-Jew. For example, were they dark-skinned, a la native Middle Eastern people, clothing tags would hardly be necessary for making the distinction between them and their white-skinned compatriots. Now were I to draw a picture of a man or a woman dressed in a pointy hat and a star-covered cloak what would immediately spring to mind for most people would be the classic image of the witch or wizard. Those archetypal figures from northern European folklore and tradition.

On top of this medieval Jews were often accused of utilising spells and magic by Christian folk, some of whom believed that all Jews possessed magical powers which they derived from making a deal with the Devil. These seeming overlaps between the traditions regarding Jewish people and traditions regarding druids and witches seem strange at first, but become impossible not to notice once the comparison has been made. A further overlap comes in the form of the "blood libel" - the accusation that Jews would murder Christians in order to utilise their blood in religious rituals. This included the idea that Jews would actually drink the blood or bake it into bread. Again, the image of witches or Satanists drinking blood is a common motif that easily springs to mind when we conjure visions of people practising dark magic. Of course, the druids were likewise accused of carrying out human sacrifice too.

Interestingly, the Star of David is also a common motif in pagan spellcraft. We intuitively associate the six-pointed star with Judaism and Israel, however we also commonly view it as a magical symbol. In fact, both the hexagram and the pentagram were often called by the name Solomon's Seal. This epithet is found in both Jewish/Islamic tradition and in western occultism. It was said that the symbol (both the five and six-pointed version, traditions vary) appeared on a signet ring possessed by King Solomon, which gave him magical powers. Including the power to conjure demons and to converse with animals. Again fittingly witch-like. It's also worth noting that medieval Scottish coins have been found which feature both six and five-pointed stars.

Now as you're reading this you may be pointing out the fact that druids were said to exist during the days of ancient Rome, long before the medieval period even began, and that any actual overlap between medieval Jews and ancient druids is simply a non-starter. This is a perfectly reasonable position to take if you're new to this sort of revisionism, and have complete faith in the current academic version of historical events. However, I would suggest that all these ideas need reassessing, and would start by pointing out that the only real evidence we have for the druids even existing at all are Roman texts.

The story goes that in these ancient times Britain and much of north-western Europe was populated by people that were governed by such druids. In somewhat primitive, more naturalistic societies. Societies that lacked the art of writing, that taught their beliefs and sciences orally in the open woodland, and that were eventually wiped out (not without sentiment) by the highly civilised and literate Roman Empire.

This is said to be why there was no trace of them left, nor any continuation whatsoever of their culture in the parts they inhabited. However, there is one problem with this entire story. The Romans only conquered Britain as far north as Scotland, and completely failed to conquer Ireland. So where did all the Scottish and Irish druids go? It all makes very little sense when you actually challenge the logistics of the idea.

My favoured personal opinion is that these Roman texts are largely fraudulent or fanciful. In fact, I doubt they're even Roman at all. Or at least ancient Roman at any rate. They were probably written much later - perhaps around the medieval period itself. The "druids" depicted in the texts just seem to be a convenient placeholder to fill the gap before the dominant culture (whatever that was at the time these texts were written) arrived. In effect a re-writing of history, erasing the original or opposing culture and putting a straw man (i.e. the druids) in its place. A straw man with the general witchy-wizardy feel of the previous culture, but without any of the actual substance. After all, this idea that the druids didn't possess any written language, and insisted on transmitting all their knowledge orally is a rather convenient trope in this regard. [4]

I would suggest that, in truth, we have very little idea of what was actually going on before the medieval period - and when we get this far back in history we simply find Jewish people mixed in with the Christian people right from the get-go. So perhaps this "druish" placeholder is in some sense a cover for a Jewish tradition that's rooted in northern Europe just as deeply as any Christian or pagan tradition. Though no doubt very far removed from what we think of as being "Jewish" today.

This brings me nicely onto the final part of this chapter, which lends even more weight to this argument. Namely the similarities that can be found between Judaism and the ancient Celtic Christian world. Firstly, the Celtic Christians celebrated Easter at the same time as the Jews celebrated Passover. In fact, it was said to have taken the famed Synod of Whitby in AD 664 to finally put an end to this practice. This was when, if we're to believe the few textual accounts, King Oswiu of Northumbria agreed to celebrate Easter in accordance with the customs of Rome. However, even then it's said that the Scots in the north still continued to cling to the older custom.

Another curiosity is the name David. Scotland, like Israel, had a King David - or rather two of them, King David I of Scotland and King David II. The Welsh also famously have their Saint David - or dewy sant as it's rendered in Welsh. On top of this we also have the feminine name Dhuoda (or Dhuada) from the early medieval period. This name is said to be a variant of the name Davida - i.e. a feminised form of the name David. The most famous Dhuoda is probably the Frankish writer Dhuoda, Duchess consort of Septimania and Barcelona (AD 824 - 844). Curiously Septimania, a historical region in the south of France, has often been referred to as a Jewish kingdom, owing to the large Jewish population it was said to have. Though again the actual historical record is a little patchy.

What's interesting about the name Dhuoda is that it's not dissimilar to word druid. In fact, the presumed male variant, Dhuod, would be even more similar. Which would perhaps suggest a possible link between the names David and Druid. There's also the name Drua, a female Jewish name once in use in medieval England - quite a beautiful and unique name for anyone thinking of baby name. It's similarity to druid is quite obvious. Lending weight to the notion that the "druids" in the historical record are simply ancestors or precursors to the medieval European Jews, with the apparent separation simply being a product of confusion or deliberate misrepresentation on the part of later writers.

After all, we do seem to have the current situation; The Druids disappear during the "Dark Ages" without a trace. The Jews then appear in medieval Europe following these Dark Ages from whence knows where.

The name Jew itself is somewhat interesting in this regard too. We have for instance the French word Dieu meaning God, which sounds very similar to the word Jew, though it looks quite dissimilar when written down on paper. Likewise we have a bevy of other words sharing a similar root. For example, we have the god Tiw (or Tyr) - pronounced tue, where we get our word Tuesday from. We have the Teutons. Likewise the Tudors. In fact, the name Tudor is said to be a Welsh variant of the Greek Theo or Theodore, again meaning god.

We also have the Tuatha Dé Danann - the famed ancient race from Irish mythology. The Old Irish word tuath means "people" or "tribe" and the , once again, is said to be the equivalent of dios or deus meaning God. Giving a loose translation of "tribe of god". The supposed added appellation of Danann gives things an even curiouser turn as this was said to be used to help differentiate this Irish tribe from the ancient Hebrews. As Irish monks also used the term Tuath Dé to refer to the Israelites.

Added to all this we also have the fact that Ireland was once called by the name Iberion (Hibernia) and the Israelites were anciently called Iberi, derived from the proper name Eber or Heber. Hence the name Hebrew. [5]

Another curiosity worth mentioning concerns the English town of York. In Roman times it went by the name Eboracum. Now Ebura is said to mean yew - as in the yew tree. However, in Italian the word ebreo means Jew, which is obviously very similar, and both are quite close to the word Hebrew. The obvious similarity of the words Jew and yew is also impossible not to notice. Given the seeming links between all these words it makes one wonder if the name Eboracum perhaps betokens that in earlier times York was predominantly a Jewish settlement.

There was also, of course, the famous massacre of the Jews in York in 1190. The story told is that the Jewish inhabitants of the city were accosted by Crusaders who were preparing to go on the Third Crusade. Their demand was that the Jews convert to Christianity. However, the Jews asked the warden of York Castle for refuge, which he agreed to, and they barricaded themselves into the tower of the castle. Surrounded and besieged by the mob most chose to commit suicide rather than face baptism. With the few Jews that didn't finally falling victim to the baying rabble outside. [6]

It seems a little strange that the Jews would take refuge in a castle stronghold belonging to the very Christian community accosting them. So perhaps the story is somewhat garbled and the Jews themselves possessed the castle from the outset? Something which would possibly be the case if Eboracum was indeed originally a Jewish settlement. It's interesting to note in this regard that there is a treaty from the same period between Alphonso, king of Castille, and Sancho, king of Navarre which expressly mentions castles belonging to Jews. In it Alphonso pledges "Nagara, a castle of the Jews" and Sancho pledges "Stella, which Peter, the son of Roderic, holds, being a castle of the Jews". So perhaps there were similar circumstances in England at this time as well. [7]

Incidentally, and finally for this chapter, it's also worth noting that yew trees are traditionally found in churchyards in Britain and northern France. The very locus of druidic activity. So again, perhaps we have echoes of an ancient religious or cultural tradition lost in the mists of time. The yew tree was said to be associated with death - no doubt in part due to its toxicity. Making it poisonous to humans and animals. In fact, one theory for why it's so commonly found in churchyards is that it was used to keep animals away from burial grounds. The wood of the yew was also used to make bows, making it doubly associated with death.

Interestingly, Caesar himself, in his Gallic Wars noted that Cativolcus, the leader of the Eburones poisoned himself with yew rather than submit to Rome. [8] This has mild echoes of the above mentioned suicides at York. The Eburones were a Gallic-Germanic tribe that occupied the northeast of Gaul. Their name likewise has the "Ebura" prefix suggestive of the name Hebrew.

The tree was also associated with death in other ways. For instance, in folklore it was said that Jesus was crucified on a yew tree. [9] A traditional ballad titled "The Leaves of Light" contains the follow verse;

And they went down into yonder town
and sat in the Gallery,
And there they saw sweet Jesus Christ
Hanging from a big Yew tree.

Finally, it's also perhaps worth mentioning the Dule (or Dool) tree here. These were trees that were used as gallows for hanging criminals in Britain. They were usually situated in prominent locations so that justice could be seen to be done. Jesus, of course, was said to have been crucified alongside criminals, so the link is quite fitting. The trees were known as "grief" or "lamentation trees", a suitable theme. They also sometimes went by the name "Justice Tree". In this regard the duality is quite notable. What is justice from one perspective, may be a cause of sorrow and grief from another. Judas, similarly was said to have died by hanging from a tree. Though in that case under his own volition following the guilt he felt after his betrayal of Jesus. Various trees have been suggested as the one he used, including the Elder and the appropriately named Judas Tree, which produces flowers of a deep pink colouring. The figure of Judas seems to be an almost inverse image of the figure of Jesus. Their similar fates perhaps denoting two sides of a moral tale regarding the life of man, and man's final fate under the law.



***************************************

Notes/references.

[1] I have another book available covering this history, An Esoteric History of Red Hair.

http://redhairmyths.blogspot.com/2018/02/available-on-amazon.html

[2] This proverb is noted in a work titled Nero su nero by the Italian writer Leonardo Sciascia, published 1979.

http://redhairmyths.blogspot.com/2017/11/excerpt-from-nero-su-nero-by-leonardo.html

[3] From the paper Red Hair: A Mutation, A Royal Trait, and Sometimes a Curse by Aminah Sheikh, supervised by Dr. Rashid Alam. The paper quotes from a much older article tilted On the Racial Characteristics of Modern Jews.

"In an article titled, "On the Racial Characteristics of Modern Jews," researchers found that there were "..thrice as many red-haired individuals as either Poles, Russians, or Austrians, and half as many again as Germans." Although this is quite an old article from 1886, it suggests to us the high amount of red haired Jews in Europe."

[4] You can almost imagine the conversation;

Medieval Person A: "So how come we have no idea what these people believed?"

Medieval Person B: "Well, they just insisted on never writing anything down, their beliefs simply wouldn't permit it, shame really."

[5] I came across this piece of information in a very interesting book titled When Scotland Was Jewish by Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman and Donald H. Yates. A book filled with curious pieces of information linking medieval Scotland with Jewishness. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in exploring the topic further.

[6] An account of these events can be found in the works of the 12th century English historian William of Newburgh. A further source is the 12th century chronicler Roger of Hoveden (or Howden).

[7] Likewise found in The Annals of Roger of Hoveden.

The full passage..

"These are the treaty and covenants which were entered into between Alphonso, king of Castille, and Sancho, king of Navarre, his uncle, for submitting the points in dispute between them to the judgment of the king of England. For this purpose each of these kings gives three castles in pledge, that he will receive and fulfil the award of Henry, king of England, son of the empress Matilda, and father-in-law of king Alphonso ; and he who shall fail so to do, is to lose the castles underwritten. For this purpose king Alphonso gives in pledge Nagara, a castle of the Jews, Arnedo, a castle of the Christians and a castle of the Jews, and Celorigo. In like manner, Sancho, king of Navarre, gives in pledge the castle of Stella, which Peter, the son of Roderic, holds, being a castle of the Jews, as also Funes and Maranon."

[8] The Gallic Wars. Book 6. Julius Caesar.

Later in the book I question whether Caesar actually even wrote this text. So I'm being a little cheeky in quoting from it here too :)

Incidentally, the use of poison from the Yew tree as a form of suicide was said to be quite common in the ancient world. A further example comes from the works of the Roman writer Florus. Where in the work The Epitome of Roman History it's stated that the Cantabrians, under siege from the Romans, chose to take their own lives ..by sword, fire or a poison extracted from the Yew tree. Rather than submit themselves to captivity.

[9] In the Qur'an it states that Jesus was born under a palm-tree. So it seems trees abound in these tales.

"So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish): 'Ah! Would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!'"

Sūrah 19 - Maryam. The Holy Qur'an. Wordsworth Classics of World Literature, 2000.

Civilisation Judas - The Other Aristocracy

Civilisation Judas - Chapter 1 - The Other Aristocracy

In this book I'll be covering a broad range of topics, all of which in some way relate to the development of western civilisation and its underlying core tenets. I should probably start by explaining the title though. It pertains to something I call archetypal Christianity, and alludes to my conjecture that the Jesus and Judas archetypes both have their roots, or at least some of their roots, in economic and political developments. As opposed to specifically religious ones. This may sound a little dry at first, but it actually offers a much more interesting and cohesive explanation for things. Economic forces are obviously a huge driving force in today's world, so it would be foolish to discount this influence when looking backwards.

The Jesus and Judas archetypes can in many ways be viewed as symbolic representations of Christians and Jews in general - and it's with these stereotypes that I'll begin. I'll start with the "Jewish" stereotype. We tend to have a relatively fixed definition of the word Jew (though even now the label is very vague and often subjectively defined). However, I believe historically the term was much more loosely used, and I think its general sense originally just implied a member of a particular economic group in society. This will no doubt sound a little controversial to many people reading, however I'll explain my reasons for this thinking below. It's a concept I refer to as the other aristocracy. It's this that links Jewishness with city life, and by extension civilisation (the word civilisation having its roots in the Latin civitas, meaning city). Hence the title of the book; Civilisation Judas.

I can explain it as follows;

Imagine it's some distant point in the past (let's say the medieval period for argument's sake) and you have a bunch of lower class or common people living in a particular area. Now over time those people will largely remain lower class. However, some of these people, through their natural intelligence or craft, may rise up the social ladder. These people will likely be drawn more towards towns and cities, as city life offers more opportunity for employment and business. Whereas in the countryside roles are more traditional and fixed - the aristocracy own the land and the peasants work it.

So, over time, in cities and towns intelligence accrues towards the top end of civil society, as intelligent people take advantage of the social mobility it offers. This then results in two different types of aristocracy in wider society. One, the more commonly known landed aristocracy - a group or class we're all quite familiar with, the other a city-based aristocracy - a not so familiar concept. Like the landed aristocracy, this city-based aristocracy tend to marry amongst themselves (i.e. within their own social class). Which then helps to forge and cement trade and family networks within towns and cities, and also between towns and cities.

The core difference between the landed and city aristocracies can be summed up as such;

The landed aristocracy are tied to their land and derive their wealth and status from it. With their power resting largely on tradition and force (the force needed to defend their territory, raise militias, maintain law and order, etc).

However, the city aristocracy don't have vast areas of land, what they have is transferable wealth - money, gold, trade links, etc. Their power largely rests on innovation and intelligence. Unlike the landed aristocracy they are not tied to the land, but are in a position to move, and to move their wealth as well. However, in contrast to the landed aristocracy they also largely lack the force needed to defend themselves from violence, or to raise physical attacks upon others directly themselves.

Thanks to these factors the landed aristocracy tend to have an interest in maintaining the state and the status quo. Whereas the city aristocracy tend to have a more internationalist outlook. These two forces at times come into conflict with one another. Though at other times their interests overlap. The hoi polloi generally switching their allegiance between the two forces depending on which worldview seems to be offering the better prospect at the time.

It's my general view that historians tend to overlook or even completely miss the importance of this city-based aristocracy. I think this may largely be due to the fact that most western historians tend to look at history as a history of nations. A history that the deep and complex trading and cultural networks between "international" cities and towns doesn't fit neatly into. We tend to be given the following view of history;

Nations interact with each other as nations at the international level. Then within each nation there is an aristocracy at the top (generally synonymous with the aforementioned landed aristocracy), a peasant or labouring class at the bottom, and a middle class of some description wedged in the middle between the two.

Now I believe this model to be a vast oversimplification. One that downplays the function of cities and towns, and that also fails to take into consideration how wealth, particularly transferable wealth, can aggregate within such urban areas. It also fails to consider the consequence of what happens when people or groups acquire such wealth, but because of social norms or the fixity of wider traditional society can't acquire large tracts of land to become part of the landed aristocracy themselves.

It's in this "city aristocracy" sense that I believe the label Jew was often used throughout history, and that such conflicts between "Jews" and the wider populations of their "host" countries stemmed from this interplay between city and country. In fact, on the topic of transferable wealth it's interesting to note that the root of the word jewellery, wealth literally carried around on the body, is jew. There are also other English words associated with city-based professions that would perhaps suggest some kind of Jewish provenance. Jury, of course, associated with legal proceedings. Due or duty, meaning tax. Words like judge, judicial, etc. We also have the Temple area of London. One of the main legal districts and a noted centre for English Law.

Now at this point anyone reading may be feeling a little confused. Is not Jewishness entwined with the history of the Jewish religion? Did not the European Jews arrive in Europe from the Middle East?

Though I don't discount that these statements are somewhat true - in fact, it's something we'll be returning to later in the book - my general view is something quite different. I believe that what we think of as Jewishness is something that emerges from within our culture ..rather than something that arrives from somewhere foreign to it. I believe that the above described "city aristocracy" process is the driving force behind this, and that although we tend to view Jewishness predominantly as a religious or racial phenomena, originally it was actually a social and economic one. I believe that the religious and ethnic traditions grew out of this, rather than the other way round. In my next chapter I'll explain what led me to first explore these thoughts.

Further chapters can be found here.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Civilisation Judas - Contents Page

This page is essentially the homepage for the first draft of a book I've been working on. It's titled Civilisation Judas, and is more or less a revision of the history of western civilisation. Particularly with regard to the religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. It's quite a speculative work, and is pretty much a collation of my own thoughts and opinions. I think of it as an "ideas" book, and don't regard it as the definitive or "correct" version of history. Nor am I especially wedded to the perspectives it presents.

In fact, as I state at times in the book, I don't really believe there ever can be any genuine sort of definitive history. Only more or less probable scenarios and timelines. Scenarios and timelines that we can only ever ascribe a likelihood to. A likelihood that to some degree will always be somewhat subjective to the person making it. I do however hope that the book presents some interesting and novel viewpoints, which readers will take value from.

I should also mention that, as ever with viewpoints, especially viewpoints about religion or culture, there will no doubt be some in the book that people disagree with. Or that even cause offence to some people. Though I don't mind people taking offence, it was never my intention. So if you do take issue with anything written please bear that in mind. Again, these are just my thoughts and opinions, so it's perfectly cool if you disagree with them. Even strongly. Likewise if you do have any criticism feel free to leave it in the comments below.

(The chapter titles below will become links hopefully as I upload the chapters over the next few weeks and months.)

Chapters.

1. The Other Aristocracy
2. Judas of the North
3. Juropean or Middle Eastern
4. Ancient Avatars of the Medieval World
5. Port of the Gauls
6. Slavery Central
7. Rent and Mortgage
8. Written Law vs Natural Law
9. Uncivilisation Jesus
10. The Mother vs The State


Friday, October 12, 2018

Some Music ...and some organisation.

I thought I'd share some of my music today. The following is an album/playlist that's organically came about over the last year or so. I'm recording music purely as a personal hobby these days. So consequently the songs were just written and recorded loosely in the moment as and when the fancy took me. I'm really pleased with how natural they sound. Though as ever it's hard to judge the value of something you have a personal investment in.



Also, it's reached the point where there are so many articles on this blog that I imagine it's getting increasingly difficult for visitors to find their way around. So I think I'm going to start adding tags to posts so people can view the articles that are more tailored to their specific interest. I was thinking of the following categories;

  • Conspiracy*
  • Language
  • History
  • Politics
  • Music
  • Earth**
  • Social Commentary
  • Art
  • Literature
  • Science
  • Maths
  • Animals
  • God

Obviously some articles will fall under multiple tags, and some perhaps none at all, but it'll at least allow some type of distinction :)

*I'll probably just be using the term conspiracy as a catch-all to signify anything vaguely in that general area - Altantis, UFOs, etc

**Likewise, earth will be flat earth, ball earth, maps, cosmology and so on and so forth...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Beard-barians are at the Gates

A bit of idle speculation about language today - I've been considering the term "Barbarian".

(To beard or not to beard,
that is the question)

The classic explanation for how this word came into being goes back to the Greeks. The story going that the super-civilised Greeks deemed all none-Greek speakers uncivilised, and that their foreign babbling just had the onomatopoeic sound of "bar bar bar" to the Greek ear. Hence the moniker barbarian.

Though this tale is no doubt slightly apocryphal, from an etymological point of view it does at least bear some linguistic fruit. The word "babble" for instance has a similar connotation. Interestingly, we also have the Tower of Babel, which resulted in the splitting of the single universal human language into a multitude of mutually indecipherable languages in the famous Biblical tale. Come to think of it, the word Bible itself is not dissimilar to the word babble too.

The name Babel is a variant of the name Babylon, and both these names are said to come from a word connoting "confusion".

From the Wikipedia page for Babylon;
In the Bible, the name appears as Babel, interpreted in the Hebrew Scriptures' Book of Genesis to mean "confusion", from the verb bilbél ("to confuse"). The modern English verb, to babble ("to speak meaningless words"), is popularly thought to derive from this name, but there is no direct connection.
I wonder if being "in Babylon" simply means being "lost" or in "a state of confusion". More of a symbolic concept than an actual place perhaps.

We also have baby-talk too, where babies string random sounds together in a similitude of real language. Or concurrently where adults speak random "coochie-coo" type nonsense to interact with said babies. Again, perhaps Babylon means to be in a state of babyishness - i.e. humanity, or at least a section of it, being in an undeveloped, unknowing state. The Kindergartens of Babylon.

However, in spite of all these barbar/speech overlaps, it occurred to me that the name barbarian also shares its root with the name barbarossa, which means "red beard" (barba + rossa). So perhaps the term translates more simply as "bearded".

Now this would make a lot more sense as barbarians, aka "uncivilised" people, tend to be bearded. In fact, the very bearded-ness is a product of this state of being. In order for a man to shave his face everyday he has to have the trappings of civilisation to some extent. A few weeks trekking through the jungles, or lost on the high seas quickly reduces man to his bearded state. To his uncivilised state.

Therefore, clean-shaven equals civilised, and bearded equals the barbarian at the gate.

So if this is the case then it would be interesting to look back on when the act of shaving actually began (if this is even possible, and assuming it had a single beginning). It would also be interesting to look back on artwork throughout history to see where men are and aren't depicted with clean-shaven face. Something I think I'll now watch out for when I investigate history further.

I should also mention before I move on the other etymological avenue regarding the term barbarian, which in some ways relates to the beard rendition. We have the occupation of barber, who cuts the hair and beard. Also in this regard we have words such as barbed, as in barbed wire, which comes with similar connotations of cutting. So I guess you could also relate the term barbarian to acts of bloody violence. It's odd how these things often tie together so well. It's probably also worth mentioning here that in earlier times barbers often performed other "cutting" services, such as the procedure of castration.

Anyway, I think this is a topic I'll be returning too after I've dug a little deeper. Before I finish today though I think it'll be fun to look at some famous figures from history and see if their facial hair or lack thereof correlates with their level of civility.

Abraham Lincoln - beard, but no moustache!

Adolf Hitler - odd little moustache.

Osama Bin Laden - full beard.

Fidel Castro - bearded.

Chairman Mao - clean-shaven.

Che Guevara - bearded.

FDR - clean-shaven.

Mahatma Gandhi - moustache.

JFK - clean-shaven.

Joseph Stalin - moustache.

Karl Marx - full beard.

Martin Luther King Jr. - moustache.

Mussolini - clean-shaven.

Vladimir Lenin - Moustache plus evil goatee.

Winston Churchill - clean-shaven.

So, if I start by separating this somewhat rudimentary list of figures out we can see if any patterns present themselves.

Clean-shaven: Chairman Mao, FDR, JFK, Mussolini, Winston Churchill

Fully bearded: Osama Bin Laden, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Karl Marx

Moustache: Hitler, Gandhi, Stalin, MLK, Lenin

Oddball: Abraham Lincoln

I'm not too sure what to make of those groupings LOL.

The only pattern that I guess you could see is that the "fully bearded" figures do seem to have something of a "threat from the outside" vibe. In keeping with the idea of the bearded barbarian at the gate. Guevara and Bin Laden are in essence anti-Western cartoon bogeymen. I guess Charles Manson would be another 20th century figure that could fit this description of a bearded threat to civilised society. "Bed-In" era John Lennon I suppose could also fit this description, though it pains me to put him in a list with such people. That in turn could also bring us to the figure of Jesus maybe - the archetypal bearded man. (In fact, I have some interpretations about the Jesus story which could play into this idea which I'll be sharing at some point).

Thinking now I probably should have included Saddam Hussein in the list. He fits the moustachioed bad guy motif perfectly - though it's notable that he finished his days replete with beard. Ayatollah Khomeini also fits the bearded-barbarian theme quite nicely.

I'm very tempted to state that clean-shaven figures represent the civilised social order, bearded figures a threat from the outside, and moustached/semi-shaven figures a perversion or adjustment of the social order. Though this would mean accepting that Gandhi is alongside Hitler, and also that Chairman Mao represents the embodiment of civility.

It would also mean reading way too much into something which is no doubt primarily just a simple fashion choice :) Quite an interesting topic though nevertheless.