Some weird ideas cross my desk every day, and I don’t usually subject my readers to too many of them. But sometimes I just can’t help but share some of the truly nutty things people believe. Today we’ll have a Reader Mailbag edition of the blog. Let’s start with an email I received last week from a very concerned fellow who genuinely believed he made a massively important discovery about recent U.S. history.
This is the final part of my review of Robert Bauval’s and Thomas Brophy’s 2011 book Black Genesis, about the “black” origins of Egyptian civilization. In this episode, the cows come home.
The authors correctly note that Nabta Playa contains the oldest evidence for cattle domestication yet found, and they offer some interesting material—drawn largely from previously published reports—about the culture of Nabta Playa and their rituals surrounding cows. The authors then suggest that this directly contributed to ancient Egyptian cow rituals. (Note: Not all archaeologists agree that Nabta Playa’s cows were domesticated.) This is certainly possible, but rituals related to cattle can be found wherever cattle were domesticated, and at roughly the same time that the Nabta Playa people were ritually burying cows (and indeed for a thousand years before), the people of Çatalhöyük in Anatolia were also worshiping bovines, in the form of bulls, a prominent religious symbol. Given the widespread veneration of cattle in the Neolithic, more is needed to draw a direct line from Nabta Playa to the Pharaohs.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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