Book and film reviews

The enigma of the Danube civilization

The discovery of the oldest high culture in Europe

From Harald Haarmann
CH Beck, Munich 2011
ISBN 978-3-406-622106
286 pages. 

(Published in Grail World 76/2013)

In the general sense of history, the cradle of European civilization can be found with the ancient Greeks. Their much admired culture was then adopted by the Romans. When the Teutons destroyed the Roman Empire in centuries of battles, these barbarians saw themselves as the successors and heirs of Rome and even adopted its religion: Christianity.

But for some decades it has been recognized that there was a highly developed old European culture long before the ancient Greeks, even long before most of the other advanced civilizations of antiquity: the Danube civilization, sometimes also called Vinca culture (after the place where Vinca Belo was found Brdo on the right bank of the Danube near Belgrade).

In his work, Harald Haarmann presents the new knowledge about this "Old Europe" in detail. It offers some surprises, if not to say sensations. Because in today's Balkans a high civilization already existed nine millennia ago!

About 12,000 years ago in the “fertile crescent”, between the Zagros Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, agriculture and cattle breeding were discovered, or invented, and developed. These were the prerequisites for people to settle down.

At that time, today's Black Sea was still an inland lake (probably even a freshwater lake), on the banks of which several thousand people lived. Because there was a land bridge on the Bosporus. This land bridge allowed people and ideas from Asia Minor to reach the Balkans. When this isthmus broke about 8,000 years ago [1], a huge waterfall poured from the Mediterranean into the Black Sea. The water level of the Black Sea rose; but so slowly that hardly anyone should have drowned as a result. Nevertheless, some researchers see a possible origin of the Flood legend in this map of the Mediterranean.

From now on, the people in the west of the Black Sea, i.e. in the Danube region, had to develop independently and adapt arable farming methods, grain types and livestock farming to local conditions. They succeeded so successfully that they built a special civilization that was far more developed than was long thought possible.

Between 7,000 and 3,000 BC A highly developed old European culture flourished in the enlarged Danube region - between the Adriatic and the Carpathian Mountains, between today's Ukraine and northern Greece.

This first high civilization in Europe is older than the city of UR (whose beginnings go back to 4,000 BC) than ancient Egypt (beginning of the Old Kingdom around 2,700 BC).[2]) and as the Babylonian Empire (2nd millennium BC). This old Europe had a remarkable level of civilization and technology, here are a few examples:
• Agriculture: einkorn, emmer, peas, flax; Cherries, lentils, naked wheat, olives, hulled barley, wine, etc.
• Livestock: dogs, cattle, sheep, goats.
• Millennia before the Greeks, wine was pressed and olive oil was produced.
• The potter's wheel, a forerunner of the potter's wheel.
• Ceramics: The first kilns in which the temperature could be regulated. High-quality utility ceramics and art objects, especially standing female figures.
• Copper mining and metal casting: 7,500 year old copper tools, the oldest tools made of metal to date. The oldest gold artifacts were also found in ancient Europe.
• The first permanently inhabited places in Europe and the oldest large settlements with a city size of up to 10,000 inhabitants - significantly larger than Catalhöyük in Anatolia or the oldest cities in Mesopotamia. [3]
• The old Europeans of this Danube culture already had single-family houses of more than 100 square meters and built the first two-story row houses.
• A special surprise that the professional world did not want to accept at first was the old European script. Historians have long been certain that the world's oldest writing system was developed by the Sumerians around 5,000 years ago. In “Brief, terse, curious” on page 54 “The riddle of Glozel” it is mentioned that there could possibly be older writings which experts dismiss as forgeries. The Danube script is currently the oldest recognized script!
• The first cylindrical cylinder seals come from old Europe.
• Society and religion: The Danube culture was presumably a matric one[4] Society in which men and women had equal rights. Hierarchies were of little importance. Mainly female deities were worshiped.

Why did this apparently peaceful primordial civilization of old Europe disintegrate? Several causes seem possible to archaeologists, either as a single cause or in combination:
* Climate change; Floods that sparked unrest and the first wars in the history of ancient Europe.
* social changes such as migration by neighboring nomads; or even a military conquest by the "Kurgan peoples"?

The well-known archaeologist Marija Gimbutas (1921–1994), from whom the term "Old Europe" originates, took the controversial view that peaceful, female-centered (matriarchal = matriarchal) civilizations were conquered and suppressed by violent, patriarchal peoples. (See. "The Cult of the Great Mother" under "History of religion" and "Briefly" Knapp, curious "page 228" The expulsion from paradise "). The last word has not yet been spoken on this subject.

In summary, it remains to be stated that the Neolithic Revolution began in Asia Minor and was then further developed in the Danube region, depending on the local conditions. In old Europe there was a considerable surge of innovation on which later Mediterranean civilizations could build. -

You can also read about this under Book Reviews "From the original patriarchy to a global crash".

[1] It has recently been suggested that the Black Sea may also have been filled by melt water from Ice Age glaciers.
[2] The traditional dates are used here. The question of whether the pyramids are perhaps tens of thousands of years old remains open.
[3] Jericho (in today's Palestine), often referred to as the "oldest city in the world", had from 8050 BC onwards. A city wall and about 3,000 inhabitants.
[4] Matristic: A coined word that seeks to differentiate between matriarchy (rule by women) and patricharchy (rule by men). This is to indicate a culture in which women and men were equal partners and the feminine element was highly respected.