I have always found evolution a fascinating subject, including the evolution of culture. If we step back far enough into the mists of time, we can begin to see vast cycles and patterns. Recently, science has begun to see some of the patterns described in ancient books.
In traditional Indian texts, a Mahayuga or great age is a complete cycle of ages spanning some 4,320,000 years. There are 1,000 of those in a day of Brahma, a subset of much larger cycles. Some scholars such as Sri Yukteswar Giri (Yogananda’s master) see a smaller cycle of ages, perhaps within the first, of about 24,000 years. (notably by a divisor of devic years) The Mayan calendar studies a similar time cycle of some 25,625 years.
This cycle corresponds with the precession of the equinoxes, what causes us to cycle back through the zodiac, shifting from the age of Pisces (Jesus, symbolized by the fish) to the age of Aquarius. This cycle is known as the Great Year, similar in length to the above. (exact time involves vast variables so can only be estimated)
I touched on the impact of these cycles in The Roots of Fear. These are not simply cycles of time but cycles of awareness, hence a cycle between dark ages and longer ages of light.
A friend of mine recently played a recording of an address by Dr. David Frawley, a westerner well versed in India’s traditions of Yoga and Veda. He observed that not only was there the precession of the equinoxes, clearly recognized in India’s astrology called jyotish, but there is also precession of the earths elliptical orbit.
At the moment, the seasons are moderated by where the solstices land in the orbit. Winter is close to the sun, summer further. At the opposite end of the cycle 11,000 years ago, they are reversed, leading to hotter summers and cooler winters. This may be a factor in the ice ages.
In the film An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore observes that the melting of the polar ice caps could raise sea levels 20 feet in a short time. He illustrates the effect on many large coastal cities. By contrast, during an ice age, populations are more concentrated in tropical areas. As the polar ice caps are then spread over much of present North America and Russia, for example, sea levels were proportionately lower. Frawley suggests as much as 3-400 feet lower. He observes that the land masses would be quite different then. Indonesia would not be a bunch of islands, India would be larger and the fabled Saraswati river (discovered in satellite imagery) would still be flowing. Just look at the continental shelf off many countries for an idea of it. (Google maps, Satellite view)
It’s a fascinating notion and one that would explain why there are so many structures off the coast of places like the Caribbean and Japan. The Gulf of Mexico may be reduced to a lake. Frawley observed that India’s landscape has saved it from some of the destruction of invasions and changing geography, which is why many of the oldest texts remain there.
In his book Critical Path, Buckminster Fuller suggests that humans evolved in the South Pacific and the dominant culture center has shifted primarily west ever since. Frawley was suggesting the same. Books like Guns, Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond talks of how geographic advantage supported the later part of this movement.
I suspect there’s a great deal more to learn about our long history than we know. As Frawley observed, we have an idea of only 20% of it. The oldest stories are the stuff of legend.