The Birth of the Beast, Jericho
By Ben Stone
A long long time ago, in a very fertile valley located near a pass through the mountains that the caravans used to take …… WAIT!
This is no fairy tail!
There is a place we call the Dead Sea, but 10,000 years ago that valley was called Reah, which is Canaanite for fragrant. It was also called Yeriho, which was Hebrew from the same root word and may refer to date palms. Today we pronounce the word Jericho. But in those days the valley of the Dead Sea was a rich Neolithic age settlement supported by productive farms growing dates, figs, grapes, olives, hemp, poppies, and a brand new food crop that would change humanity, wheat!
Located in a most fortunate position near the entrance to the mountain pass that lead to the Mediterranean Sea, was a natural outcropping of rocks that made the perfect robber’s roost. As far as we can tell, around 9000 years ago (see note below) a gang of thieves fortified themselves in that robber’s roost and began raiding the surrounding valley and the caravans passing through the valley. Going strictly by archeological evidence, with the construction of an early tower and wall that accompanied it, we can surmise the State was born at that rocky outcropping, the oldest defensive structure we have found to date. From this key fortification the robbers could sweep out and “tax” the countryside as the harvests were brought in by the farm villages that dotted the wide fertile plain. Caravans traveling from the rich Mesopotamian farm villages to trade their wears on the Mediterranean coast were harassed by the robbers unless the “protection fee” was paid.
The account above flies in the face of the myth most people believe about the birth of the State, but that’s simply because most people have chosen to believe the lies of the State rather than the obvious evidence. The myth of the birth of the State asserts that groups of people were unable to govern themselves, constantly fighting and bickering among themselves, and therefore chose to relegate their own sovereignty to a group of strongmen, chiefs, or priests who wisely guided them to civilization. Then somehow, through some odd accident, the State became oppressive. This myth has been supported by court prophets, court historians, and a variety court jesters since the first mobster, drunk on his own ego and the blood of his victims, put a wreath on his fat head and declared himself king. It doesn’t matter in the least that actual archeological evidence to the contrary must be ignored or twisted and distorted beyond recognition in order to hold such a myth as the truth. It doesn’t matter that respected figures in history have openly refuted this myth; people embrace it rather than face the truth.
Think about the following information:
A considerable amount of archeological sites have been found, not only in the Middle East but also all over Africa, Europe, and Asia from prior to 9000bc, the age of the first tower and wall at Jericho. The next evidence for a State didn’t appear for another 3000 years at Uruk in ancient Sumer, the opposite end of the “Fertile Crescent”. And what is that evidence? A wall and tower fortified structure with evidence of a garrison, planted squarely on the conjunction of trading routes separating fertile farming cultures and the sea. Uruk, like Jericho, was the perfect location for a robber’s roost.
With archeological sites where there is no evidence of a State, e.g. the valleys and plains of the Dead Sea area prior to the emergence of the fortifications at Jericho, every little settlement, village, or farm maintained caves, tunnels and dugouts to stash their harvest and keep it safe from pests like bugs, animals and thieves. Also each settlement, village, or farm grew and traded a variety of crops without any one crop dominating production. But when the State appeared on the scene, stash holes became a place to hide people and farming shifted to the over-production of grain.
None of the early fortified robber’s roosts or even the walled cities would have had the capacity to hold, sustain, and protect the entire population of the surrounding tax producing communities. In those days the city walls would have only protected the elite and those who directly served them.
If Jericho was a walled, towered garrison for 3000 years before any other State became strong enough to present a challenge, who were the inhabitants of Jericho afraid of? Why would they build a fortified garrison if no other State existed to threaten them?
As James C. Scott argues in his book The Art of Not Being Governed, every early State required two things to exist; an abundant supply of slaves and the over production of grain to feed the slaves.
Considering the above evidence, I conclude the early walled garrisons were built strictly for the protection of the mobsters who both preyed upon and feared the surrounding farm communities. After all, it hardly sounds to me like the stateless free people voluntarily surrendered their sovereignty to a group of strongmen, chiefs, or priests who wisely guided them to civilization. It sounds more likely to me that a Mafia-like group of thugs found it easier to hide behind walls and towers while stealing from the productive class, rather than the life of a highway man, robbing travelers while living in the wild and hiding behind rocks and trees. In other words, thugs too dishonest and lazy to be proper highwaymen invented the State, and so it remains today as it always has been since its birth on those fragrant palm covered valleys and plains 11000 years ago.
Note: the earliest known fortifications at Jericho date to 9000bc, not 9000 years ago. this was a typo in the original article.