Biblical Paleoarcheology

The Local Pottery Generation (G4)

Article #35

Some settlements had pottery while others did not. Some had farming while others did not. These may seem like trivial facts to the uninitiated, but they underlie the core arguments for human evolution. Since the time that Robert and Linda Braidwood studied the Amuq Valley in Syria, in the 1930’s, archeologists have been trying to prove that Simple came before Complex because people evolved slowly from animals and had to discover or invent everything from scratch. Human evolution is a story in search of facts.

Are Periods Sequential or Contemporary?
Critical thinking requires us to consider the story of the Bible as well as the story of human evolution when examining the facts. If the Flood happened, then carbon dating is invalidated because of a catastrophic atmospheric event. Even for relative dating, it is unreliable. If Noah was a farmer and came from a technologically advanced civilization, then hunting encampments are not necessarily earlier than farming settlements. Even though I have placed Natufian hunters before pre-pottery settlements and those before pottery settlements (see diagram above), they should be considered generally contemporaneous. Very few settlements show systematic improvement. Some were abandoned while others regressed. The facts do not prove human evolution.

A recent book by the Yale University Press concedes the following: “It turns out that the greater part of what we might call the standard narrative has had to be abandoned once confronted with accumulating archaeological evidence.” (1) The expert authority Marc Van De Mieroop states that “Sometimes populations had to return to a hunter-gatherer existence… We have to keep in mind that both lifestyles existed in the same geographical area” (2). Biblicists believe that Noah farmed at the same time that Natufians hunted. Tell Halaf had high quality pottery, while Catalhoyuk had an inferior style of pottery. These sites were 400 miles apart, so one was not dependent on the other. Each culture represented a separate particular tribe and its individual choices. Consider the unique experience of Catalhoyuk in Turkey.

Catalhoyuk
Most settlements were small. Catalhoyuk is an impressively large town on two sides of a river (3). People built houses touching each other, so that the only access was by the roof. People lived as equals, with no class system. Looking at pottery style, Catalhoyuk would have existed during the Pottery Neolithic. It’s final population is estimated between 5,000 to 7,000 inhabitants. Using our population growth model, we calculate that one or two founder couples from the first generation could have reached this tribal size in 75 years. The “Table of Nations” (Genesis 10,11) places sons of Japheth, such as Meshech, in this area of Turkey (4). So, imagine Meshech’s family moving from the Middle Euphrates River area to Catalhoyuk after obsidian was found near there, and growing together as a tribal unit. They suddenly abandoned their town, perhaps because of the miracle of the creation of diverse languages. Where did they go? Obviously, they continued west and could have been responsible for colonizing the Aegean, Mycenean, and Bulgarian regions.

model and photo by Nutzungsbedingungen CC BY 4.0

The Missing Transition from Aceramic to Pottery
The missing links of evolution are still missing. Most pre-pottery settlements were abandoned, rather than morphing into pottery settlements. It is still a mystery why we can’t find abundant evidence for the transition to pottery. “One of the most controversial issues of the Near Eastern prehistory is the transitional period between the pre-pottery and the pottery stages of the Neolithic period; this can, more specifically be named as the problems concerning the earliest use of pottery.” (5) For example, out of 15 pre-pottery sites around Cayonu, only 2 contain pottery in later stages. Archeologists expected to find most sites transitioning from no pottery to pottery, but the facts did not support their story. “However, only a very few of these sites continue into the pottery period.” (5) In other words, some sites didn’t use pottery and others used pottery from the beginning. Transitions are rare.

The lack of evidence for a transition has been a mystery, but so has the sudden disappearance of pre-pottery settlements, as well as the people who lived there. Where did they go? Archeologists believe there was a Pottery Neolithic period but admit “there is almost a total lapse in the archaeological record”. (5) They admit that they are speculating, so we can speculate too. “What was happening at this transitional stage, we can only speculate for the time being. There are clear indications of depopulation of regions that were rather heavily inhabited during the pre-pottery stage.”(5) Did the Pottery Neolithic even exist as a separate period? Did the descendants of Shem make pottery, while those of Japheth and Ham generally not? Did the pre-pottery people migrate down to Eridu to help build the city of Babel? Or did they stay in their settlements until the miracle of the diversity of languages, when they were motivated to migrate away?

Where were Settlements Located during the Fourth Generation?
In spite of the fact that hundreds of settlements existed at this time, each would have had fewer than 100 people. Having explored the extent of the Fertile Crescent, each tribe or family would have been enjoying a time of growth in the region they selected. The regions would have been basically the same as the previous generation: the Middle Euphrates, Upper Tigris, Zagros Mountains, Levant, central Turkey, and Cyprus. Some exploration took place. The first hamlet in Crete had a population of 25-50, which grew until the period of Mycenean palaces around the time of Abraham. Greece may have had settlers arrive by sea around this time. The oasis of El Kowm in the Syrian desert also began early. Not much was visible in Egypt yet.

Gobekli Tepe
One of the strangest constructions of all time, perhaps even more than the pyramids, is the site of Gobekli Tepe. In fact, it is so difficult to explain that some have attributed it to aliens from outer space. The 200 “T” shaped pillars weigh up to 10 tons each and are arranged in 20 circles having two larger pillars in the center of each circle. There are no houses, farms, or cemeteries. Many consider this to be some kind of religious temple, but the only images are of animals. No idols. It does not have an altar-like table as Eridu does. So who built it and what could it be?

The Biblical answer makes much more sense. Early tribes built it as a yearly gathering place for fellowship and to share their experiences. Edward Banning estimated that it “could have been built by 12–24 people in less than four months” (6). So 50 to 100 people could have built it in a month. Moreover, “These labour estimates are thought to be within the capability of a single extended family or village community in the Neolithic, and also fits with the number of people that could have comfortably been inside one of the buildings at the same time.” (6) One authority states that the people who built Gobekli Tepe would have come from 200 km around it (see map below). This would have been early families from the Middle Euphrates region, where the first agriculture and settlements are found (7).

Why did they build it? These tent-like structures are located on a high hill, 25 miles north of Haran and looking down from 800 feet above it. Haran was the traditional family homesite for Tarah, Abraham, Rebekah, Rachael, Leah, and Jacob. Perhaps Noah and Shem were buried there? This would not make Gobekli Tepe a temple to false gods, but a synagogue for righteous patriarchs who had a concern for raising up generations that would remain loyal to the true God. The two central pillars represented the mother and father of the tribe, while surrounding pillars represented significant children of faith. No idols are present. It was a tribute to family with grateful recognition of the abundant world of animals that made up their livelihood.

Summary
As the population grew from a thousand to five thousand in the fourth generation after the Flood, tribes were growing throughout the Fertile Crescent. Farming, hunting, and herding all existed in different places, sometimes in the same family. The children of Ham migrated into Canaan and the Zagros Mountains, while the children of Japheth migrated west to settlements such as Catal Hoyuk. The children of Shem honored their God and their genealogy by raising their children in the fear of the Lord in places such as Gobekli Tepe. That’s history as I see it.

References
(1) Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States by James C. Scott 2017
(2) A History of the Ancient Near East: ca. 3000-323 BC by Marc Van De Mieroop 2016 p. 11.
(3) Çatalhöyük wiki | TheReaderWiki
(4) The Genesis Record by Henry Morris 1976 p. 248.
(5) “Pre-Halafian Pottery of Southeastern Anatolia, with Special Reference to the Cayonu Sequence” by Mehmet Ozdogan and Asli Ozdogan 1993, p. 87.
(6) Göbekli Tepe
(7) Who built Göbekli Tepe? – Tepe Telegrams (dainst.blog)

2 thoughts on “The Local Pottery Generation (G4)

  1. Interesting seeing how things were time placed by pottery & other issues. And the reference from Henry Morris’ book. His son, John Morris, married a friend of mine from the OU BSU, Dalta Eads Morris.

    1. The need for thousands of years makes no sense. How long does it take to make pots if you already have the skills. I have great respect for Henry Morris Sr and all his children. I’m glad they moved to Dallas. I hope to get to the ICR museum one of these days. It’s interesting that you knew John’s wife. It’s a small world.

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