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jmdecombe's avatar

What is the most mysterious civilization that ever lived on Earth?

Asked by jmdecombe (9 points ) September 24th, 2009

By mysterious, I mean the one about which we know the least, not necessarily the weirdest one.

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36 Answers

Mamradpivo's avatar

The Atlantians. They may never have existed and we’re still talking about them thousands of years later

Some of us are, anyway.

Bluefreedom's avatar

The Incas?

Ansible1's avatar

We don’t know that much about humans

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

some native american civilizations from around the mojave are actually pretty interesting, some of them had simply vanished with no real apparent reason, we do know a lot about how the lived though.

but as far as a civilization that we really know nothing about, there are plenty of pacific islands where we find evidence of premodern human interactions that we really can’t explain.

the mother of them all, of course as mentioned above, has to be atlantis. however I’m fairly confident in my own personal opinion that no such civilization every existed, and if the stories do come from a real source, it has been greatly exaggerated.

Mtl_zack's avatar

Minoans were only discovered 120 years ago. They lived on Crete and colonized many islands in the Aegean. We know much more about them now, but there are still many mysteries such as one of their languages Linear A, and the reappearance of the symbols of the double sided axe and bull horns in many artifacts. There is also the mystery of the alleged human sacrifice at mount Juktas.

They also played a sport where they would be charged by a bull and grab onto it’s horns and flip over the bull like in gymnastics. They probably grew their crops and then deposited them in communal warehouses where it would be divided up. This discovery was made in the 1950s and it was used in some communist propaganda. In the 1960s another breakthrough promoted the idea that women played a big role in that culture and that was also used to promote the feminist cause.

I’m majoring in Classics and I’m taking a course on Archaeology and another one of History of Ancient Greece. This stuff is very intriguing to me.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

There are many civilizations that passed we will never know about.

Bugabear's avatar

Im going with the “Aliens”. By Aliens I mean someone or thing that visited all sorts of different Civilizations around the globe. If you look closely as some Cultures theres always some reference to “someone who came from above”. Especially in Mayan Culture Apparently someone or thing came from the heavens and their description of them was that they where wearing suits and helmets of metal and traveled in metal crafts. Also I heard the in Israel the Hebrew word for God apparently translates directly as Beings from above. Also theres a old Chinese legend about a great flaming ball of metal that landed and Metal warriors got out did some stuff and then left. I dont know the exact details about this though. I read it in a book a while ago.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Bluefreedom: The Inca empire was still in its prime when Francisco Pizarro arrived in (present-day) South America in the 1500s. I’d say we know quite a lot about them, since they’re basically still alive (just under a different government with some immigrants mixed in) and the languages they spoke in the 1500s are still spoken today (just evolved, in the same way English has evolved since then).

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Hobosnake's avatar

the guys who built stonehenge, and I won’t hesitate to mention the Mayans. We’re pretty obsessed with their calendar.

Being a Christian, I’ve always wondered just how far pre-flood civilizations might have gotten. For all we know their technology could have been superior to ours, but it would all have been completely obliterated in the flood.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Hobosnake: Actually the Maya are another group still alive and well today!

According to wikipedia:
“The Maya peoples never disappeared…Today. the Maya and their descendants form sizable populations throughout the area (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and as far as central Mexico) and maintain a distinctive set of traditions and beliefs that are the result of the merger of pre-Columbian and post-Conquest ideologies…Many Mayan languages continue to be spoken as primary languages today;”

Hobosnake's avatar

@La_chica_gomela Sure, some of their descendants are still alive, but the civilization is gone. I was unaware of the race’s continued existence and am interested, but I fail to see how your exposing of the continuation of the race has anything to say about the disappearance of the culture.

I don’t think any of us are talking about people being mysterious due to genes or other race-based qualities, but rather the fairly undocumented culture involved with the ancient race and its mysteries.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Their civilzation is still alive! just like the Incas, under a different government, and with a lot of immigrants, but its the same people practicing the same customs and speaking the same language. That adds up to a civilization in my book.

Just like we wouldn’t say the the British of the middle ages civilization or that “British culture” has disappeared and we know nothing about it, because the British still live in the same place, speak the same language, and have the same society.

Hobosnake's avatar

@La_chica_gomela language + minimal customs (I highly doubt they’re conquering countries and practicing human sacrifice on their prisoners or even worshiping the same gods) does not equal civilization.

And to your second paragraph… Britain is still feudal?! Besides, British culture of the middle ages was documented in such a way that it remains understandable to us. The language is hardly the same, and the culture has changed even to the point where I might say that civilization is dead, but there’s no clearly definable point where it “died”. The simple truth is that very few elements associated with the British culture of the middle ages still exist today in modern British culture (for example, when was the last time the neighborhood nights got together for some serious jousting?). Not all of these values were lost at once, but by now enough of them have been lost to consider the culture and civilization gone.

You seem to be disregarding the effects of new science and technology on society, especially the internet and its effects on globalization. Even if the Mayans had kept everything else, as long as they weren’t avidly against technology (in which case they would all be dead) their culture would change drastically with even the introduction of gunpowder and horses (which basically came from Europe) their culture would be radically affected.

Also note that being conquered by a more advanced and unknown country and basically pillaged to no end doesn’t help a culture’s survival. Culture develops and continues in times of prosperity, not while being decimated.

Kraigmo's avatar

The hobbit-sized humans of Flores island, east of Bali, 18,000 years ago. They seem inherently mysterious.

It’s hard to say most though. The creators of the world’s ancient wonders, and all the unknown ancestors, are just as mysterious.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Hobosnake: You have made my point that if British culture still exists, then so does Inca culture.

drdoombot's avatar

The Amish.

Jack79's avatar

Following on what MtlZach said, there are also the Therans just north of Crete. Many believe they were the original Atlanteans. They had hot baths, flushing toilets and telescopes in 2,100 BC (that’s almost a thousand years before Troy and 15 whole centuries before the Parthenon was built). Some say they might even have electricity and flying machines. All their houses looked like palaces, decorated with frescoes and had swimming pools and gardens, and plenty of golden tools and ornaments. When the volcano erupted, they fled to various directions and no bodies were found in the ruins. They may have been related to the Minoans (or maybe even started the Minoan civilisation).

The excavations of Callisti started in 1971 and because of the amount of artefacts found and the care that must be taken so that nothing is destroyed, they will take at least 200 years to complete before we know anything about these people. And this was before that roof fell and killed the Russian tourist a couple of years ago.

kevbo's avatar

Teenage girls.

Ria777's avatar

we know very little about many civilizations. you can’t answer this question.

ubersiren's avatar

The Roanoke settlers or The Lost Colony is very interesting to me.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Hobosnake As a Native American woman I agree entirely with @La_chica_gomela . All civilizations and cultures develop and change over time. Just because Mayan culture does not exist in the way it did in the past does not mean that it is not still alive. In fact all cultures are different now vs. the distant past and it is not our place to say whether those changes have erased their culture. It is their choice, self-determination, to decide wether they are a living culture or not. You passing judgment based on your ideas of what their culture and civilization should be is a form of stereotyped racism. I am not calling you a racist at all so please don’t take my comment that way. But it is a very unhealthy way of thinking when it comes to cultural competence.

I also must say that this statement is absolutely false and quite offensive: “Culture develops and continues in times of prosperity, not while being decimated.”

Hobosnake's avatar

@RedPowerLady Perhaps I should have replaced “civilization” with “culture” and “develops” with “prospers”? Would that remedy the situation? I realize now that that is more what I was trying to say anyways.

The point I was trying to make is that all cultures (other than possibly isolated tribes that have not felt the touch of globalization) have changed to the point where the culture is basically gone, but some are better documented than others (or documented in a more understandable way for the modern world), and therefore they are mysterious.

I don’t see how I’m saying what their culture or civilization should be, or commenting on cultural competence in any way. Could you elaborate on that?

Granted, I did point out their being conquered by the Spanish, but I don’t look down on them for that, as the Spanish clearly had much greater technology and the Mayans, to have fought as well as they did, must clearly have been truly the better warriors, and they definitely had a much more rich culture than the Spanish had. I’m sorry if you took it that way.

Also, for anyone who simply dismays at answering this question for fear of leaving out forgotten cultures, it should be noted that by “mysterious”, @jmdecombe most likely means “sparking curiosity”. A completely forgotten culture cannot spark one’s curiosity, and therefore just answer the question with a culture of which something is known. It’ll make for a much more interesting answer.

Ivan's avatar

Christian = Creationist?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Hobosnake
All cultures have changed to the point where the culture is basically gone.
Just because a culture develops does not mean that it is gone. If that were the case we wouldn’t have any cultures in existence today. I would also think it is beneficial for you to know that many indigenous people keep their cultures within their society so to assume that the cultural components of pre-colonized mayan society are no longer in existence in today’s society would be a big mistake on your part. They simply aren’t advertised.

I don’t see how I’m saying what their culture or civilization should be, or commenting on cultural competence in any way
You are commenting on what their culture, or rather their civilization, should be because you stated quite clearly that as it stands today their culture today does not equal a civilization. Your reference: Language + Minimal Customs does not equal Civilization is a clear example. You are putting your value judgment on this person’s culture and saying that it does not equal a civilization. And as you said this statement here: Also note that being conquered by a more advanced and unknown country and basically pillaged to no end doesn’t help a culture’s survival. suggests that their culture is not surviving. All of these assumptions are examples of poor cultural competence.

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Perhaps I should have replaced “civilization” with “culture” and “develops” with “prospers”? Would that remedy the situation?
Perhaps you could re-write what you mean because I am completely lost as to what you are referring to.

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I am not making judgments on wether or not the Mayan culture and civilization is mysterious or not. For some it may very well be. For others, because it is alive and prospering it does not fit the definition of mysterious. This is not what I am disputing. What I am disputing is your assumptions about the Mayan culture in saying that it is not thriving today and that it is no longer a civilization. And also the following statement: “Culture develops and continues in times of prosperity, not while being decimated.”

Although in relation to this question the asker does say mysterious equates to what we know the least about and if a culture is alive and well then it is hard to say that we know the least about them. And I believe that is the point being argued in the first place in relation to the Mayan society.

Hobosnake's avatar

@RedPowerLady thanks for pointing out the first sentence. I had every intention of going back and editing that to say all ancient cultures, but forgot to.

I said language + minimal customs. not culture. Every “culture” can be considered a “civilization”, they are nearly synonymous terms. I was not making that claim. I meant that the continued language (which has probably evolved significantly since then anyways) and very few continued customs of today does not add up to the ancient culture of over 500 years ago.

As for ”‘Also note that being conquered by a more advanced and unknown country and basically pillaged to no end doesn’t help a culture’s survival.’ suggests that their culture is not surviving. All of these assumptions are examples of poor cultural competence” , that is making no such claim. The Spanish conquering of the Mayans might be equated today with a country continually nuking another country that didn’t have the technology to defend themselves (don’t get on my case for saying the Mayans were incompetent, I realize that was an overstated metaphor, but I’m trying to put it into perspective). The richness of the culture would understandably deteriorate as the carnage continued and the preservation of culture became a very low priority. It is difficult to focus on anything else when one has to focus a good portion of his attention on survival. If we were being nuked to no end, might we stop celebrating our holidays? I should think so.

“Perhaps you could re-write what you mean because I am completely lost as to what you are referring to.”: I’ll completely change the sentence for you with my original intent in mind.
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Cultures flourish in times of prosperity, but are in danger while their people are more concerned with other things.
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Look at pretty much all “golden ages” and notice that they are times of peace and prosperity, during which a nation can focus on such activities as the arts and their religion rather than on more stressful subjects such as survival and money. These, by definition, are the catalysts for culture.

What I am disputing is your assumptions about the Mayan culture in saying that it is not thriving today and that it is no longer a civilization.

I didn’t mean that. The Mayans may have a new civilization, and it may very well be prospering. What I’m trying to say is that, through various influences, all civilizations from 500 years ago have now almost completely changed, and that one of the reasons for the Mayan change is that the ancient civilization was harassed by the gold-hungry Spanish.

From now on I will do my best to clarify that I mean the ancient culture, which has mostly disappeared and remains fairly undocumented, and is therefore mysterious, as I’m sure the Mayans living today do not have innate memories of their forefathers from over 500 years ago.

And, as I said before, the word mysterious is more attributable to the cultures we know little enough about to be immensely interested in.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Hobosnake Thank you for clarifying. I certainly understand your point more clearly now and I appreciate your clarifications/revisions.

I also still disagree with you. I am Native American and we have ancient cultures that are still alive and well today. And we still have ceremonies, language, and customs that are ancient despite the oppression we have faced. Our culture has changed and cannot be the same as 500 years ago in it’s exact form as is true for any culture however it still includes many of the same components. It is also important to understand how oral history works in Indigenous populations. Our cultures revolve around keeping accuracy in customs from the past.

Again I disagree that the ancient culture, which has mostly disappeared and remains fairly undocumented, and is therefore mysterious, as I’m sure the Mayans living today do not have innate memories of their forefathers from over 500 years ago. I also want to re-emphasize that it is not your opinion on whether this culture is alive or not but rather that of the Mayans.

But we are allowed to disagree and I suppose it will have to be left at that. I will say one last thing and that is with more cultural understanding of Indigenous cultures, i.e. some more cultural competence, you may have a better viewpoint of what I am saying.

Hobosnake's avatar

@RedPowerLady I’d be happy to leave it at that. I’m sorry I didn’t clarify sooner, and feel privileged to have had the opportunity to talk to a Native American. If your culture has hardly evolved in 500 years, then I might just have to look into that! (don’t take this to mean that I don’t believe you, I am genuinely interested, and I do believe you. Now that you mention it, I remember the extent to which some Native Americans have preserved their culture, and continue to be impressed with it. Lack of sarcasm is just difficult to express online)
History and culture is one of my favorite subjects, and, me being the all-out academic nerd that I am, that is saying something =). However, you are right in pointing out that I truly know little about ancient cultures.

Lastly, I’d like to point out the irony that this thread was only going to contain a single, short response from me.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Hobosnake Thanx for the intellegent debate.
Lastly, I’d like to point out the irony that this thread was only going to contain a single, short response from me. LOL

filmfann's avatar

Whoever designed and built the Great Pyramid of Giza.

WhiteStar's avatar

behold i hold some truth to some of these ancient civilizations, but you should only specualte on them of what i am about to say, partially from my own memories, i had originated from a place above, which is not of this world, and yes were very much advanced, i really don’t know if humans existed then, because we were not on your planet….until later after our world, had become uninhabitable, by some environmental calamities, and we boarded our celestial star, which i remember actaully the structure of the ship, which i am not going to hand out any alien knowledge to you guys nor the entire world at most, but we as a species were quit different, but we were also quit similar of that of human features, resembling more asianistic features with slanted eyes, long black gorgeous fine hair, and our skin was pale. though ill tell you somethings that resently started to remember, was that our planet was once like yours, beautiful, we had advanced cities, similar to skykcrappers but used for different purposes, there was no globalization or industrialism, it was just us, our waters were of yours our skies were of your skies, but then it died slowly and became a red pitch colr with great wind storms, embedded with sands.

i have been in egypt,maya, just like aztec, india, native indians, and so many more, european not to long ago in the 1940s, know im african american surprised!!!!!!!!!!!. and i have vague little memories of all that i am, because what ever i am, i am an acient soul, and i believe that my time is almost up, that i will ascend to the higher realm very soon, and i will never be here again, and atlantis is very much real…..i am also from alantis actually i say my heavenly people which they would be called gods to your people have come here like i have and played a great part in the architectural structures that still exist, most of them have been distroyed by environmental changes on the earth to, and we also play a great signifficance in culture but never religion.

but don’t worry, there is nothing to be fightened of, were all dead anyways that was billions of years ago before human kind i suspect or the beginings of human kind, i am dead also, but know most of use are alive and don’t realise who were really are and how much knowledge we as humans possess, and how i can change the world in just a short time with my developing knowledge of my superior culture, and technologies, whci i will not go into detail about.

i have taken my time to come out about this, i seek to still remain covert until i choose to come out but i am as normal as a human is and have ambition as anyone else does just inmatters of technology and architecture. that is not my purpose that is my love, my karma my ability i am capable of.

anyone who has had similar experiences or knowledge, it was meant to be for a reason, and we may know each other…i am also looking for someone i lost long ago.

WhiteStar's avatar

another thing is that i know many of my people are very advanced, intellectually, and reside in the science fields, and in the governemnet also, many i believe are already literally running the world as we know it, with other people, but they will not come out because that will about mass panick…...aliens running the world urghhhhhhh!!!!

filmfann's avatar

@WhiteStar Welcome to Fluther. Lurve.

Kraigmo's avatar

@whitestar, How many of these extra-terrestrials are involved in the running of the world? Because the persons running it, are not doing a very good job, as a whole. Although I realize you did make qualifiers between what you believe and know, and this was only a belief.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

I’d have to go with the people who inhabited the ruined city which was recently discovered under the ice cap in Antarctica. It had to have been buried under ice since long before recorded history. Who were they and what was their life like?

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