Acorns to Wheat:
A Chasseen Family Saga
January 12, 2019
November 15, 2018
|Chasseen Era Questions
6th Grade Class
What do you eat?
We eat mostly vegetables and some meat. Wild meat is from large animals like deer, boar and beaver or small animals like hares, rats and squirrels. But, we mostly eat wild vegetables and nuts. We like leafy nettles, kale, wild peas and pennywort. We eat burdock like you eat artichoke. There are almond trees, pine nuts and oaks (acorns) that we like. We eat flowers like daisy, celandine and peas. It makes the food very colorful.
We grow old varieties of wheat, spelt, oats and we grow or gather lots of herbs like rosemary, thyme, basil, sage and tansy. We gather honey and use it for making bitter foods sweet.
There are some fruits we enjoy like the strawberry (from trees, not like your strawberry today, and bitter), blackberry and raspberry. Apples are small but edible, plums and pears.
Some plants are just for fun, like mastic for chewing gum.
There are foods that you made into edible vegetables but we did not know about them yet. Very few of us ate root foods because we did not know about digging up roots or sometimes our religious leaders did not allow digging up food from beneath the ground. We never had carrots (they were small and purple), potatoes (also small and purple). We never had turnips or rutabaga, beets, garlic or radishes.
|This is My 3-Minute Talk at Book Events
My main concern today is to show you that the Chasseen people were not 'cavemen'. They were successful hunter-gatherer families. They braved the transition into an agricultural society that began the modern western culture. This is the first time unrelated clans tried to live together. And the driving force for trying to live together was the security and survival it provided. This was when and where western European civilization began. My book is about a family caught-up in this transformation.
For me, the most surprising fact is that as these hunter-gatherers began living in villages, women played the major role. But when you think about it, it makes sense. Men outnumbered women by a huge margin. Women were scarce. Once a woman was of the age to give birth, she put herself at death's door every time she conceived. Giving birth was the single most dangerous task at this time, not war or famine, as you might think. And staying alive after giving birth to a second child was miraculous. By banding families together, women quickly found strength in numbers – helping each other give birth.
The other surprising fact is that women 'invented' farming. Instead of foraging through ever-changing environments, they began planting wild seeds near their huts. This gave them a constant food source and the ability to safely gather the crops. They secured the necessities: food, clothing and shelter – just as it is today. It was not until generations later that the gardens of the women became farms too big to manage. A man's upper-body strength was needed to till the soil and drive the oxen. It was a thousand years later that male vs female roles in an organized civilization would split - relying on a man's ability to grow a farm, and a woman's ability to grow a family.
December 22, 2017
Sorry, but I had a number of personal tragedies and was not able to function.
|Some Modern Concepts and Words That Were Not Available
The concept of a Written history, or written anything, was the first harsh reality in writing this book. Everything was passed down in stories and songs, and unless a catastrophe happened, all knowledge of living in the world was passed to the next generation through this oral history. Unfortunately, the book is based on a catastrophe. But, I deal more with that concept in the next book.
The notion of Community was never realized by the first Chasseen. Theirs was the generation of the first farmers, which did not bring on the feeling of community. Farming brought differing clans together, but it took quite a while for the concept of needing each other, or wanting to be with each other, to take hold. The strongest feature of community, trusting a non-family member, was brought about by women. Women needed each other to survive childbirth, the main cause of death in women. Men did farming, but also continued as hunters. Men needed cooperation among themselves to hunt; women needed a mortal savior to survive childbirth. The women built the networks of community, nurtured inter-dependency and group participation in birthing and feeding the village.
There was no concept of Work. Work as defined by "doing something for which you receive compensation of some kind for what you did." There was no concept of doing something for payment and then using that payment to buy something. There was always something that needed to be done, but that is defined by the word "labor". Your reward for labor was the reason you labored. As an example, in farming, you labor by planting crops, then harvesting the crops you planted. No one paid you to work in the fields and you spent that payment on something else.
Love is a hard concept to explain. It was mostly procreation. There was no husband and wife sentiment. There were many more men that women in the ancient world because a high percent of women died giving birth. In fact, primitive women never outlived their child-bearing age. Because of this high mortality rate, one man either had multiple mates or a series of mates. For a man, it was too emotionally expensive to invest himself in one mate for life, since few women lived after their first or second child. Also, the average age of an adult male was less than forty years, so there was no opportunity for much emotional bonding.
If you are interested in other concepts that were not available, contact me.
November 2, 2017
|Writing About the Year 4000BC
There are so many modern concepts that were not available for me to write about. It took me 3-4 years before I became comfortable in this period. As I read about the dig sites in southern France and the material they were finding, the more uncomfortable I was trying to understand these ancient people.
However, as I read through the material (translating from French), I realized these were not stupid or unintelligent people, they would never have survived. They were uneducated, not un-knowledgeable. They knew a lot about the Earth, the plants, the animals, the sky - things we have washed from our memories as uninteresting or unnecessary. Moderns can survive without this knowledge, primitives could not.
What plants were edible and which were poison? You only get one guess.
What animals were stronger and more dangerous?
How do I navigate using the stars?
If I do something this way rather than that way, will the gods be angry?
How and when do you try to appease the gods?
Absorbing all this, I could finally make myself "forget" my education and scientific knowledge. I waited until I felt I could survive in this forgotten world among intellectual equals. Not among savages.
The first thing I did was give them a way to communicate. The speech pattern I gave them is stilted, a way of talking that is not meant to be read comfortably. It is a language with no contractions. These were unrelated clans brought together for the first time in human history. They knew nothing of each other except as they began dwelling together. No introductions, no pleasantries, no knowledge of how to "get along". I felt informality would have to come later - through generations of their children.
September 23, 2017
|Farmers and Hunters Lived Separately
It was believed that hunter-gatherers disappeared with the arrival of agriculture and that the agricultural revolution reached European communities almost uniformly. However, with the ability to trace genetic patterns of Europeans today, it is now known that groups of hunters and farmers lived for many hundreds of years without mixing.
Individuals found in the archaeological sites show three separate populations. The first are the earliest hunter-gatherers, represented by remnants of various groups beginning with the Chasseen. The next are the later hunter-gatherer fishermen, also remnants of local peoples. These were joined by the new farmers, people who immigrated from the fertile crescent area. The three groups remained separate, but there is much evidence that these groups knew each other and shared common customs like worship and burial sites.
The first farmers who immigrated to Europe did not merge with local hunter-gatherers. Only a few hunters became farmers, a few immigrants became hunters. But for the most part, they lived in close proximity, but separately. Gradually over the next few hundred years, they mixed and mingled. There were still distinctly separate genetic groups after hundreds of years after the introduction of agriculture, until the beginning of the Bronze age. The conclusion is that immigrants brought agriculture to Europe and played a pivotal role in changing the genetic make-up of Europe.
May 9, 2017
Most of us think of prehistoric music as wooden drums and bone flutes; and for the most part, we would be correct. However, we should also ask: What was the music for? What function did it serve?
The beginnings of these two primitive musical instruments goes back to the original purpose of playing music. Music was designed to communicate with their gods, the creators of the earth and all things on the earth.
The drums were designed to replicate thunder - the warning sound of the gods. This is how they got your attention, so this is how you should get their attention. The drummers would start at about the pace of a resting heart-rate. Slowly, they increased to the speed of a runner's heart-rate. This was all to get the attention of the gods. Then the drums stopped.
The flute was designed to replicate bird songs. Since the gods were from "the above", and birds flew in "the above', the birds must know how to communicate with the gods. So the flute was played to sound like bird songs, to please the gods. Once the people felt the gods were pleased, the flutes stopped.
The two musical instruments were not played together. The drum drew the attention of the gods, the flute placated and amused the gods. Once the musicians had the attention and had soothed the gods, the chants could begin. Chants asked for mercy, for long life and happiness or as thankful recipients of the god's indulgences.
Music was a ceremony performed as prayers to the gods.
January 15, 2017
It was not as hard as I thought it would be to find studies of prehistoric languages. I will let you explore how the research was done. I want to discuss the results.
Different languages in Europe evolved from a core language used by a scattered group of people from the mid-6000BC era called the Cardium pottery makers. Their territory covered the Mediterranean coast from Barcelona to Monaco, all of Italy, the Balkan States, Greece and all the way east to India. Most Proto-Indo-European languages, from Celtic to Sanskrit and Germanic to Latin, derived from the shared ancient language of these people.
The evidence shows there are common root words in current European languages. The root words influenced all parts of each languages culture. The common root words for nature include: moon, day, night, wild animal, tree and honey. Common words to describe the body include: eye, chin, jaw, ear and tongue. Relationship words include: brother (meaning a male member of a clan, not just a family male member), sister, mother and father.
All of these words display the aspects of life that were fundamental to ancient peoples. Interestingly, there is no common word for wheel. The wheel was invented long after the Cardium pottery culture fell apart.
Religious words and phrases are: chief of the gods, to pledge oneself, holy forces, poet, poetry, punishment and immortality. Poetry began as a religious art form. One of the most ancient poems in all of Proto-Indo-European languages is "Protect, keep safe, man and cattle". The ancient meaning of cattle being livestock (not just cows).
Another aspect of ancient languages is how they sounded. To study the sound of ancient languages, most research relies on studying primitive cultures still functioning today. There are thousands of ancient niche languages. Unfortunately, a dozen or so become extinct every year. These niche languages are in expected, highly populated regions such as China and India, but also in North America and European countries.
One interesting finding is that ancient speaking sounded more bird-like. Our current whistling is a remnant of this sound. Whistling and other high-pitched sounds can carry long distances and that was an important feature to ancient people. Click HERE
to watch a youtube demonstration of an ancient whistling language. There are still remnants of other animal sounds like the rolling 'R' used by singers and the 'tsk, tsk, tsk' (with a shaking of the head) meaning disapproval.
November 2, 2016
|Invention of the Wheel
The first evidence of a wheeled vehicle in Europe is around 3200-3300BC in the present-day Poland-Germany area. There is more evidence of wheels being used in the furtile crescent before this, in 3500BC. This evidence suggests it would be another 1000 years before the wheel was brought to southern France. By that time, 2500BC, the Chasseen culture had given way to the Celts. There was never a wheeled vehicle during the time period of this book or during the culture of the Chasseen people in this book.
October 12, 2016
|Who were the Chasseen?
First and foremost, the Chasseen were people like us, but without the technology, organization and understanding that 6000 years of discovery has taught us. They were more familiar with and aware of the natural world than most of us.
The Chasseen (some archaeologists use Chasseens) were the first to rise from a singular hunter-gatherer life to a more diverse life as small family clans coalesced into farming communities. The clans shared with each other their own personal traits and family traditions while participating in a mutually beneficial work-load. Differing talents became an advantage.
Chasseen is the name given to a loose collection of nomadic hunter-gatherers transitioning to a more stable life-style. This is the beginning of communal life in Europe. However, these were still bands of diverse people with minimal organization. They did, however, intermingle on a regional basis during seasonal worship events.
Their culture covers about 1000 years, from 4500 to 3500BC. Their influence extended over several large groupings. In general, the groups were separated by the mountain ranges of Europe and were concentrated near river basins. One group covered most of the Iberian Peninsula around to the Italian coast. There was a group from the Paris basin to the Danube area and one other group located in Northern Europe. Each had their own trade routes, but maintained a similar culture. The two latter groups were eventually displaced by a pre-Celtic culture. The Iberian Peninsula group, because they were more scattered, maintained their culture much longer. They were probably intermingled with the Celts and later the Gauls.
The Chasseen were neolithic (neo-new + lithic-stone age). They already had grinding stones for acorns to make bread and used these same stones when they switched to growing wheat and barley for bread. They had no metal technology, but mastered the use of flint and obsidian. Originally, they used an atlatl for hunting but changed to a bow and arrows. Bowls and cooking utensils for communal meals were made of clay and they used personal clay bowls with bone implements. Their cook-pots were unique for having three large lugs near the bottom of the pot to hang on a tree and drop in hot rocks for cooking.
Chasseen were the first in the region to herd goats (and later sheep) and trained their dogs to assist in herding. They made cheese without churning (farmer's cheese). They cultivated wild peas, millet and harvested fruits such as apples, pears and plums. They ate almonds. There was no wine, so they made wheat beer (still available today).
The Chasseen began as a matriarchal society. The women mastered the technique of moving wild grains to local fields, then turned the seeds into a gardening endeavor. This endeavor changed to full-fledged farming as the women taught themselves the techniques of crop rotation and multi-seasonal planting/harvesting. This continued until the workload of farming overcame their child-rearing and domestic responsibilities and the men took over. The men changed from hunters to farmers as the advantages of a continual and reliable food-source became apparent.
The women also started our modern society. They began living together in unrelated family groups to share the trama of birthing a baby. Hunter-gatherer groups had mostly males because the women usually died in childbirth. As the women gathered in groups to share the farming chores, they also learned to depend on each other for childbirth duties. This was the beginning of social groupings and raised the birth rate of the village.
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