By Inez Comparet

Were our first ancestors civilized or uncivilized? Did they wander constantly, hunt and fish for a living? Could they write? Modern science once thought our first ancestors were the most ignorant barbarians. However, the recent findings of archaeologists have altered this concept. Dr. W.W. Dawson, a Canadian scientist, has this to say in his book, The Bible Confirmed by Science. "Neither in Egypt nor in Babylonia has any beginning of civilization been found. As far back as archaeology can take us, man is already civilized, building cities and temples, carving hard stone into artistic forms, and even employing a system of picture writing. Of Egypt it may be said, the older the country the more perfect it is found to be. The fact is a very remarkable one, in view of modern theories of development, and of the evolution of civilization out of barbarism. Such theories are not borne out by the discoveries of archaeology. Instead of the progress we should expect, we find retrogression and decay. Where we look for the rude beginnings of art, we find an advanced society and artistic perfection. Is it possible that the Biblical view is right after all, and that civilized man has been civilized from the outset?

W.W. Prescott in his book, "The Spade and the Bible" says, "Not a ruined city has been opened up that has given any comfort to unbelieving critics or evolutionists. Every find of archaeologists in Bible lands has gone on to confirm and confound its enemies." Life centered on the temple. The temple towers of Babylonia were of the same design, a series of vast, almost square platforms, with stairways leading up. The shrine for the god was on the top.

The ziggurats at Ur had three to eight platforms. The shrine at the top was in blue glazed brick with a golden metal roof. The Babylonian word ziggarat means a pinnacle on top of a mountain. The theory is that the ancient conquerors of these plains were mountaineers who, either from homesickness or from religious conservatism or both wished to worship their god on the high places as they had always done. In Chaldea they had to make the high places with their own hands. The account of the building the tower of Babel is the record of such an event.

In Genesis 11:2-3 we read, "And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and asphalt had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build a city and a tower, whose top may reach into heaven." These temples were not only places of worship. Around their courts were storehouses for the tithes and offerings brought in by the faithful worshipers, or paid as rent by tenants. There were living quarters for the priests and the temple servants. There were workshops and factories where the men and women, attached to the temple were employed, spinning and weaving into cloth the wool, which the farmers brought. There was also casting and hammering into art objects the copper and silver paid as tithes by the merchants of the city.

Exhaustive accounts were kept of what was received and what was disbursed. Immense cattle yards were kept where the livestock, given to the temple, were cared for. Contracts were found setting forth their responsibilities and regulating their profits, documents referring to granaries, freight boats, etc.

The temple stood in relation to the people as the state does in modern times and the records here are of administration. The records show an efficient and well-organized community. Each person had a cylinder seal, which was rolled across the wet clay and used in place of a signature. These seals are very small, some only 5/8ths of an inch long. It took great skill and very tiny tools to carve these. Various semi precious stones were used. One of gold was found in the tomb of a queen.

About 3750 B.C., the art of the seal reached perhaps its highest expression. They carved figures whose physical characteristics were emphasized realistically. At the center of the composition there was a panel containing an inscription. One inscription shows a bearded hero watering buffalo from a vase out of which flowed two streams, and then it shows water and a rock border at the bottom. The inscription names Ibnisharrum as the owner of the seal and dedicates it to Shargalisharri, king of Akkad. He was a grandson of Sargon, or Cain, as we know him. This whole scene was on a cylinder seal less than an inch long and perhaps the size of my little finger. No modern jewel engraver could do better.

Because it is difficult to imagine life other than in terms of that which they knew, they assumed that man's occupations and needs hereafter would be similar to what they have been in the past, that the next world is a continuation of this world. Whatever a man used in this lifetime he will use after death. The woman took her spindle, needle, mirror and her cosmetics. The carpenter took his saw and chisels, the soldier his weapons of war. The king must be provided with a goodly sample of his pomp on earth. It is not surprising then that the archaeologist derives most of his material from the cemeteries of the old world. What he finds illustrates not only their beliefs and burial customs, but also their life style. From the royal tombs at Ur, dating about 3000 B.C., come some very beautiful things. The famous gold dagger of Ur, a weapon whose blade is gold, its hilt of lapis lazuli decorated with gold studs, and its sheath of gold filigree work. With it was another object scarcely less remarkable. It was a cone shaped container of gold, ornamented with a spiral pattern and containing a set of little toilet instruments, tweezers, lancet and pencil, also of gold.

The royal graves all had a harp. The most magnificent yet found, has a sounding box bordered with a broad edging of mosaic in red, white and blue. The two uprights were encrusted with white shell and lapis lazuli and red stone arranged in zones separated with wide gold bands. Shell plaques engraved with animal scenes adorned the front. Above these projected a splendid head of a bearded bull wrought in heavy gold, with a lapis lazuli beard.

Queen Shubad, on her deathbed, wore an ornate headdress of a long gold hair ribbon covered by beaded wreaths with gold pendants. She also wore heavy gold earrings and a golden Spanish type comb with five points ending in lapis centered flowers of gold. By the side of the body lay a second headdress. On a diadem, made of soft white leather, had been sewn thousands of minute lapis lazuli beads. Against this background of solid blue, were set a row of exquisitely fashioned gold animals, stags, gazelles, bulls and goats. Between them there did their leaves shield clusters of pomegranates, three fruits hanging together. There was a helmet of beaten gold made to fit low over the head with cheek pieces to protect the face. It was in the form of a wig, the locks of hair hammered in relief, the individual hairs shown by delicate lines. The ears were rendered in high relief and are pierced so as not to interfere with hearing.

Sir Leonard Wooley, who headed the expedition at Ur said, "As an example of the goldsmiths work, this is the most beautiful thing we have found. If there were nothing else by which the art of these ancient Sumerians could be judged we should still, on the strength of it alone, accord them high rank in the roll of civilized races.

The content of the tombs illustrates a very highly developed state of society. A society in which the architect was familiar with all the basic principles of construction known to us today. They commonly used not only the column, but also the arch, vault, and the dome. Architectural forms which were not to find their way into the western world for hundreds of years. The craftsmen in metal possessed knowledge of metallurgy and a great technical skill. The merchant carried on a far-flung trade and recorded his transactions in writing. The army was well-organized and victorious, agriculture prospered, and great wealth gave scope to luxury.

Not all the world had a high culture for basically only those who have it now, had it then. Sir Charles Marston in his book, The Bible Comes Alive says, "All stages of civilization exist today throughout the world, and so far as we are aware, always have existed. And where glorious monuments certify to a great past, those who now dwell around them often testify to a great decay." The old truths of the Bible, which are ever new, will abide. Like their author, they are "The same yesterday, and today, and forever." They can't be shaken. Current world history is fulfilling the Bible's prophecies. Its truth is written on the ruins of earthly kingdoms. Neither the Bible nor Babylonian excavations know anything of uncivilized man. Life at the beginning was necessarily simple, but it was not only enlightened, it was cultured.