Lost Civilization, Lost Knowledge

The May 2006 issue of National Geographic Magazine features an article on a tattooed mummy found sealed in a tomb in Peru. The 1500 year old mummy is a woman from the Moche society, which predated the Incas by several centuries. Archeologists found artifacts including golden jewelry, golden sewing needles and golden weaving tools, and many types of weapons.

This article brought to mind the fact that we know many early societies were able to refine metals, recognize the value of gold, and develop other relatively sophisticated technologies, but they didn’t have the ability to write down instructions in a durable form, and today we have no clue how they did these things.

This discovery led me to realize that today, if our own Western Civilization children were transported to the mountains of Peru, or some equivalent, only a tiny percent would have any inkling how to even grow food, let alone discover, mine and process metals. Would they be able even to shape stone hatchets for felling trees and managing a supply of firewood?

How fascinating that we consider ourselves so wise and evolved, but we are such prisoners of technology.

Perhaps you have memories of basic survival skills you learned and practiced as a youngster on camping trips or similar adventures. Have you taught these skills to your children and grandchildren? Have you written about them? What are we doing to prepare future generations for life in the post-petroleum era that’s likely to begin within their lifetimes, if not within our own? Are they prepared to cope with natural disasters that disrupt power and other services?

Do you have memories of wood stoves, cooking over a campfire, growing and drying food, or other skills that would serve you well in survival mode? Have you shared those stories? Let’s pool our memories of basic life skills, for the good of our families and communities!

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal

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