Sunday, 23 March 2014

Looking Back.....

Reading in this book by H.V.Morton I was struck by something he said when on an ancient roadway.  He was discussing a building erected generations before to protect traders as they reached the half way point on the journey.  It had been standing there in one form or another there about three thousand years, possibly following on a resting place going back much, much further. This got me thinking about something those colonials in the Americas sometimes say regarding old UK buildings being 'ancient,' and 'historical.'  Many Americans touring the free world do find the age off buildings fascinating and it brought to mind Soub's picture of a building in Texas dating from I think 1848.  This wooden structure, reminiscent of a 'cowboy' TV set, was classed as the 'Oldest building in town.'  Now 1848 is not that far back, my Grandfather was born a mere three years earlier in 1845 and I am only 25 so it is only two generations, yet in the USA the early 1800's are ancient history.  Of course man has been living on that land for thousands of years but the mind forgets this and concentrates only on present culture when considering the past.  Our view is often limited by ourselves.
History is seen in the buildings.  Edinburgh, towering above the world was built of solid stone structures reaching for the sky ten or twelve stories high.  This reflected the available materials, the numbers crowding inside the walls and the need for walls to defend against the nasty English invaders.  The 'closes' contain housing reaching back several hundred years each with its own history, each worthy of a blog all by themselves.  Digging back further prehistoric man lived in several places around the city, both on Castle Rock and Arthur's Seat and in the Pentland Hills nearby.  
In the part of paradise in which I dwell houses arose from the wood that covered the land. Made of wood and plaster with only castles made from stone and the churches flint and rubble, contained in a form of 'clinker,' often containing Roman brickwork.  The latter showing how happy many Britons were to accept Roman standards.  Many building in this small town go back to well before the 1800, one in the High Street has a pillar dated to 1395 I was told. Dating trees is an interesting insight into the age of buildings.  Quite a few began their life in the early Medieval period and have been transformed according to contemporary needs and still serve their purpose today.  The stairs creak a wee bit mind! People were known to be farming in this district at least four thousand years ago, some of their leftovers have been found.  Before them as the Ice Age receded man trekked this land from the south of Cornwall across what became the North Sea to northern Germany following the herds hunting and gathering.  No buildings were left but signs of habitation are abundant.  The melting ice gave us the North Sea and fishermen still dredge up mammoth Tusks and the like daily.  

While such nomads dragged their weary way in the cold north the peoples of Mesopotamia were already beginning to farm, gathering cattle, sheep and goats, and no doubt dogs and cats also, to produce a more settled life.   The cities of Ur and Uruk had something like 60,000 citizens five thousand years ago.  Their mud brick buildings lie in the south of what is now Iraq.  This seems ancient to us who consider the Greek and Roman period as far distant yet Mesopotamia is a rich cultural heritage ignored for the most part and contains, so they say, our beginnings.  Further back settled life arose Jarmo at least 7000 years before Christ and hunter gatherers walked for millennia before that.  Man spread out quickly over the earth and similar finds occur in China, India and South America going back thousands of years.

It makes the history of this wee town appear quite recent.  It also makes me feel quite young.  



Lee said...

We, here in Australia think similarly to those in the US. We're a "young' country when it comes to our history as seen through buildings; from when settlement occurred.

It must be a trait of we Colonialists!

We are short-sighted because that's as far (or near) we can be bothered to allow ourselves to see, generally speaking.

A gem, a zircon crystal fragment (and it was very, very small) found in Western Australia in 2001 was determined by extensive techniques by scientists to be 4.4 billion years old

The oldest fossils, other than me that is, are from 3.4 billion years ago.

So compared to those records everything classed as "ancient" really isn't ancient...and that includes you and me, Adullamite.

Adullamite said...

I did consider Australia and meant to add a bit in but for some reason didn't. Younger than the States yet has people who probably go back much further!

Mo said...

Part of the fascination for me living here is just how much history surrounds us. Growing up medieval times seemed like fairy stories and how could it possibly be true. Living here I have the proof in the way of buildings and artefacts all around us. Now I'm curious about things much much older.

Adullamite said...

Mo, You need to get out of London a wee bit and see some of the history stuff. You will like that.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Methinks you were misinformed about that 1848 structure being considered the oldest building in Texas. For the Alamo Mission in San Antonio still stands, and it was built sometime in the 1700s under Spanish rule. In all fairness, a loyal Tea-Partier might think of that 1848 structure to be the oldest one in the state that really counts. For Texas became a state in 1845.

In regards to you wanting to feel younger, I applaud your efforts. (Snicker.)

Adullamite said...

Jerry, I think it must have been the oldest in that particular town! The Alamo of course is where you stole parts of Mexico from the people who stole that from the Indians.
I am young, 'cough'..