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Albert Einstein once said ‘if at first an idea doesn’t seem absurd, then there is no hope for it’. Okay, so here is an absurd hypothesis. I suggest that the so-called Hongshan jade-carving Culture went back more than twice as far as the 5,500 years currently claimed in China. It was an integral part of the global seafaring art-loving megaculture whose elite communicated much as the Chinese do now with a system of pictographic symbols. It was part of a global agricultural culture, active during the last ice age, and I suggest that by burying plant and animal waste, and exposing it to anaerobic fermentation it was able to produce and capture methane, effectively farming natural biogas (much as is done in the third world today), for heating and lighting.

12,800 years ago, at a time of global warming, there was an uninvited and moderate-sized (in geological terms) meteorite impact on the Gobi desert, possibly the one I have postulated that caused the twin craters, with ejection of large amounts of pure gaseous and liquid silica, some (but not all) of which was contaminated by exploding ejecta including impact diamonds, cobalt, iron, aluminium and titanium, which coloured some (but not all) of the glass. The glass ended up at sites distant from the impact, in Inner Mongolia.

This impact was locally devastating and also caused an abrupt interruption in global warming. It set off extensive fires and secondary volcanism locally, world-wide ash clouds, and triggered the onset of the Younger Dryas cooling with a sudden reversal to full ice age conditions. There was surface re-growth of the Laurentide and other ice sheets, which, however, had been weakened by the previous warming period and so were partially liquified at ground level. So they were vulnerable to the next warming cycle. The advanced cultures recovered, settled mainly along shorelines, and under a heirarchy of astronomer-priests went to town with the building of temples and monuments to assuage the obvious wrath of the gods.

Once the glass had cooled, and deposits of local alluvial impact diamonds (‘magic sand’) had been discovered, their jade-carving techniques were applied by the Hongshan people to agate and to natural glass. The objects were of course buried with the owners after death, as charms for the afterlife, so boosting steady production over centuries (and later frustrating modern dealers who seek rarity to sustain the high prices they need to prise money from suckers like us who trust them).

I suggest this was an essentially pacific Culture dedicated to art, agriculture, sex and making megalithic monuments to keep the gods happy. Tribal wars were not a major feature. Maybe they even used methane balloons to lift megaliths - they must have lifted them somehow. They had 1,200 years - that’s 60 human generations - in which to hone the technology. Volcanic pollution triggered by the impact slowly died down. This and a natural solar warming cycle combined with the greenhouse effect of increased ‘industrial’ methane led to sudden precipitous global rewarming. A little less than 11,600 years ago one hot Northern summer this melting caused the sudden collapse of the (vulnerable) Laurentide and other Ice sheets, massive flooding as evidenced by the scablands etc, a precipitous 400 ft rise in sea levels, destruction of all coastal civilisations, and mass extinctions. And only Noah and a few other smart seafarers had seen it coming, packed in time, and took their cows and seeds with them.

LIke any good hypothesis it is outrageous, but should be susceptible to testing.

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A highly speculative hypothesis, putting Northern China centre stage 359 drdavidanderson 10-Feb-18 11:23

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