The Myths and History of Red Hair

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Ancient Avatars of the Medieval World

(This article is a chapter from the book Civilisation Judas. Details of which can be found at the bottom of the page.)

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.

Civ Judas pic

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 some way becoming increasingly common in alternative circles - if not in the world of academia itself sadly. 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. 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 thousand 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 providence 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. So we can essentially deem the medieval period an event horizon, before which everything is darkness. This 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 noted earlier many others have put forth a similar viewpoint. 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 overcome. For a start just consider that mainstream timeline once again. The high civilisation of Greece and Rome, 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 continue to progress 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 thousand 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 women have believed just that. However, it does mean that the possibility that the timeline is messed up in some way 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.

It's a familiar story with most of 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. 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 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 great 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.

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. 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 immoral. 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 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 that 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 stories, then chase those utopian, technological visions in reality. In earlier 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 all the 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 noting 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.




Civilisation Judas is available on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback edition.


Civilisation Judas book on grass

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


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Kindle Amazon US Amazon UK




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