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Thursday, September 8, 2011

INTERLINKAGE NUSANTARA (SOUTHEAST ASIA) AND THE REST OF THE WORLD

There was an interlinkage between the prehistoric populations of Nusantara (Southeast Asia) and the rest of the world. Some of the people from Nusantara were forced to flee westwards after the Ice Age to India, Mesopotamia and possibly beyond; and influenced the West far beyond their numbers. Besides the evidence of the physical movement of people from Nusantara, cultural links back to the region are detectable in many Western folktales and other stories. Only in the past 2,000 years has the cultural flow been the other way round, that is, from West to East. The genetic links from Nusantara along the trade routes through India to the United Arab Emirates and Mesopotamia and on to the Mediterranean, however, reveal an unequivocal trait of ancient, small and focused immigrations.

The idea of the Garden of Eden being a fertile lost Paradise is a peculiarly Austronesian concept which has found its way into the West more than once. The Polynesians had a geographically understandable view of the Paradise. It was a big, lust continent in the West that was originally a homeland. It is not really there now, but is inhabited by the spirits of their ancestors and, maybe certain heroes. To get there, you have to make a dangerous water crossing which is commemorated in the boats of the dead motif found in caves, on bronzes, and cloth designs throughout Southeast Asia. It could only be the drowned Sunda continent.

The Sumerian view of the potency and danger of knowledge appears again in the older Mesopotamian version of Adam's Fall, The Might of Adapa. The 'knowledge' that was so carefully guarded could have been either technology or magic or both. In many traditional societies, the two are inseparable; claims of the supernatural enhance the power of the clever artisan, priest ruler or astronomer. Secret knowledge held by a ruler-priest caste may have been one of the seeds that changed Mesopotamia and Upper Egypt from successful Neolithic agricultural societies to the rich hierarchial cultures that we know from the archeological records. Source books remark on the striking similarities between pre-Islamic Malay magical practices, such as augury on chicken livers, and that of the ancient Babylonians. The great flowering of civilization in the Fertile Crescent of the ancient Near East lay in the sinking shorelines of Nusantara. The Sumerians and Egyptians themselves wrote about the skilled wise men from the East, a fact often dismissed as the embellishment of a fertile imagination.  We might ask just what seed it was that produced such an explosion of cities, monuments, arts, writing and empires 5,000 years ago? Although there was much technology transfer over a prolonged period, the most important new lessons from the East were those Karl Marx wrote about in Das Kapital - namely, how to use hierarchy, politics, magic and religion to control other peoples' labour.

The Malays practiced agriculture long before the first farming village, Catal Huyuk in Turkey has been dated to 7000 B.C. By the time of the appearance of the Sumerian civilization 3500 years later, pastoralists and farmers were well established throughout the ancient world, supporting large population both in the East and West. Farmers, generally speaking, are independent people, and need the city less than the city needs them. While the city dwellers can specialize in organization, and skills such as artefact production, they cannot make food without land. The second pre-requisite for urban development is thus creation of a state where the farmers and other citizens are obliged to own allegiance to the city state and to supply that city with food. There are many ways in which this subjugation can be achieved, by coercion, by force, by taxes, by religious persuasion or trickery, and finally by the use of war and spies. All are used in this regards. At an early stage, the practical navigational and agricultural science of astronomy, which Easterners were certainly skilled in, was hijacked by priestly 'astrologers' for the purposes of fooling and scaring people. This practice, of course, continues today. The addition of magical procedure, such as divining the future through examining an animal's intestines, was used in Mesopotamia, in the same way it is still used throughout Nusantara today, from village to regal level.

From the history of our own times, it not hard to argue that one technological breakthrough leads to another. We have only to think of developments in radio communications and computer technology to see how progress has accelerated on a global scale in the past fifty years. In the case of the simpler technologies of our ancestors, though, can we extrapolate back to the big leaps forward that occurred after the great post-glacial floods? Why did the same inventions of pottery, fire, tools, agriculture and metallurgy happen throughout Eurasia, if not simulteneously then at least within a relatively short period (in pre-historic term) of a couple of millennia of each other? This all makes it likely that there was long distance communication of ideas from the end of the Old Stone Age onwards. The answer to this puzzling question lies in Nusantara. It was the centre of innovation after the Ice Age and long-distance seeding of ideas from the region led to technological breakthrough elsewhere.

In conclusion, this astonishing fact radically changes our conventional view of prehistory by suggesting that the biblical flood really did occur at the end of the last Ice Age. The Flood drowned for ever the large continental shelf of Nusantara, and caused a population dispersal which fertilized the Neolithic cultures of China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean, thus creating the first civilizations. The Polynesians and Pacific islanders did not come from China but from the island of Southeast Asia (Nusantara). The domestication of rice was not in China but in the Malay Peninsula and Java Island 9,000 years ago. The Malays, before their divisions into sub-ethnics, were the first people of Nusantara (Southeast Asia), and they did not come from Taiwan or Yunnan as described by world historians and renown scholars.



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