This is about a nice bit of research, tidily done, but at first glance it’s not the sort of thing that would excite a blog which is primarily focused on evolution. Your Curmudgeon, however, is afflicted with a peculiar malady — probably the result of years of exposure to creationist blather. It is our burden that we read all science news with one primary question: What will the creationists do with this?
Today we’re concerned with something we found at PhysOrg: Manure used by Europe’s first farmers 8,000 years ago. A few excerpts will give you the general idea, with a touch of bold font added for emphasis:
A new study says Europe’s first farmers used far more sophisticated practices than was previously thought. A research team led by the University of Oxford has found that Neolithic farmers manured and watered their crops as early as 6,000 BC.
How did they figure that out? We’re told:
It had always been assumed that manure wasn’t used as a fertiliser until Iron Age and Roman times. However, this new research shows that enriched levels of nitrogen-15, a stable isotope abundant in manure, have been found in the charred cereal grains and pulse seeds taken from 13 Neolithic sites around Europe.
Here’s a link to the paper, which is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Crop manuring and intensive land management by Europe’s first farmers. Only the abstract can be read without a subscription, so we’ll stick with PhysOrg, which says:
Lead author Dr Amy Bogaard from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford said: ‘The fact that farmers made long-term investments such as manuring in their land sheds new light on the nature of early farming landscapes in Neolithic times. The idea that farmland could be cared for by the same family for generations seems quite an advanced notion, but rich fertile land would have been viewed as extremely valuable for the growing of crops. … ”
The research is based on stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of 124 crop samples of barley, wheat, lentil and peas, totalling around 2,500 grains or seeds. The charred remains represent harvested crops preserved in Neolithic houses destroyed by fire. The samples were from archaeological excavations of Neolithic sites across Europe, dating from nearly 6,000 to 2,400 BC.
The cereal and pulse samples were taken from sites spread across Europe: in the UK, they included Hambledon Hill in Dorset and Lismore Fields near Buxton in Derbyshire. Other Neolithic sites included in the research were in Greece, Bulgaria, Germany and Denmark.
That’s enough. You can read it all if you like. As we said, it’s a nice bit of research.
But this is where the Curmudgeonly Counter-Conceptual Concern (the CC-CC) kicks in. The young-Earth creationists are always babbling (no pun) that the world was miraculously created about 6,000 years ago, and everything those wicked “secularists” teach about things that existed prior to then are lies, to be contemptuously dismissed by sneeringly asking: “Were you there?”
According to Wikipedia’s article on the Ussher chronology, which most young-Earthers accept, James Ussher, the Archbishop of Armagh, calculated that “the first day of creation began at nightfall preceding Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC.”
Oops! Then how do we find rather unambiguous evidence of sophisticated farming methods being used 2,000 years earlier than the date of Creation? Did the Devil spread that evidence around to deceive us?
It gets increasingly difficult for any creationist to maintain his position without simultaneously declaring himself to be among the most incurable of idiots, but such people do exist — in great abundance. Okay, let’s see how they deal with this new research that — shall we say — dumps manure on their fanatically deranged beliefs.
Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.