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71 comments

Fertilizer... (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 9 months ago | (#44290517)

Even native americans knew burying a fish next to a corn plant helped it grow faster (assuming a raccoon didn't dig up the fish first)

Re:Fertilizer... (2)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 9 months ago | (#44290647)

Yeah, the native americans that white people met when they arrived in the 16th century.

We have no idea what the native americans did or didn't know 8000 years ago.

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

icebike (68054) | about 9 months ago | (#44290683)

Yeah, the native americans that white people met when they arrived in the 16th century.

We have no idea what the native americans did or didn't know 8000 years ago.

We have the same source of knowledge of 8000 year old Americans as we do for 8000 year old Europeans.

And much more of it is preserved and undisturbed by 12 thousand years of European warfare and constant reworking of the land.

Re:Fertilizer... (4, Interesting)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 9 months ago | (#44290885)

And much more of it is preserved and undisturbed by 12 thousand years of European warfare and constant reworking of the land.

Instead it was disturbed by 12000 years of warfare and reworking of the land in the Americas. It is a shame though that most of the Amerindians didn't have writing. There are so many things we could learn, for example, about the Mississippian culture, the spread of maize agriculture northward and its effect on how people lived, ecological problems they encountered in say the Southwest and Ohio Valley, etc. etc., etc. Not to mention the eternal riddle of why they tolerated those hairy smelly invaders from across the Atlantic.

P.S. Great book on the pre-Columbian Americas is 1491 [wikipedia.org] (there's also a good "sequel" called 1493).

Re:Fertilizer... (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 9 months ago | (#44291205)

Instead it was disturbed by 12000 years of warfare and reworking of the land in the Americas. It is a shame though that most of the Amerindians didn't have writing. There are so many things we could learn, for example, about the Mississippian culture, the spread of maize agriculture northward and its effect on how people lived, ecological problems they encountered in say the Southwest and Ohio Valley, etc. etc., etc. Not to mention the eternal riddle of why they tolerated those hairy smelly invaders from across the Atlantic.

P.S. Great book on the pre-Columbian Americas is 1491 [wikipedia.org] (there's also a good "sequel" called 1493).

Well, actually no. There were no major wars on North America prior to the arrival of Europeans. Minor tribal skirmishes, but no enduring structures overlaying prior structures. In fact the only enduring structures of any kind were in the desert southwest. Natives did not heavily work the land, and practiced slash and burn for their agriculture more than anything else. This is why early viking settlements stand out so obviously.

The net result is that many (thousands) of native north american settlements were discovered in undisturbed state, even in heavily populated areas of the north eastern states. Even Clovis and pre-Clovis sites, when found, don't show the heavy disturbance of plows, later civilizations, or buildings. Mound builder's mounds are virtually always intact. The history of the land was very different.

Middle american indigenous people did build extensive structures which were also more or less abandoned intact after the Spanish.

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

betterprimate (2679747) | about 9 months ago | (#44293441)

Your response seems more to do with South America. Spanish never touched most of North America which makes me think you're off-track in the response to the GP.

I'm not vetting his claims, but there was warfare among the native North Americans a few hundred years before colonization. The result was the Five Nation confederacy and the indoctrination of The Great Tree.

Re:Fertilizer... (2)

icebike (68054) | about 9 months ago | (#44293471)

Really? I mentioned the Spanish in passing, as the very last word, and that's all you saw?

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

betterprimate (2679747) | about 9 months ago | (#44293575)

Really sorry that I misread, I was gung-ho. Been drinking. :D

There was enough warfare to establish the Five Nation confederacy (know 7, or is it 6 again?) Insight on that would be great if you got it.

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

betterprimate (2679747) | about 9 months ago | (#44293535)

Sorry, friend, I misread. Though I think it's necessary to counter this western line of thinking, despite it being a direct response to the racists (or at least generalists) above.

Perhaps I can plow through and cover all claims with some simple brevity....

  • The native North Americans had the oldest democracy.
  • They had a confederacy, a republic
  • Their languages comprised of at least six written languages; we can at least count for two today but have identified several others and their approximate origins
  • They lived in harmony with the land.

You cannot judge the superiority, moral, nor wisdom of a civilization simply by their structures. Well, yes, you could, but it stands to show the greater, the more egotistical the structures built by a society, the lesser and inferior the society. How can a civilization be so organized, grant unforeseen power to women, and survive in democratic harmony with neighbor and nature? How can such a civilization be seen as inferior? Others wrote about it. Others who lived at that time. Their characteristic of them was far from barbaric but considered them "god-like". They wrote home about it and them left for the wilderness with them.

If you are to judge a society by what it leaves behind, know this... a civilization that leaves nothing behind is by far the most superior.

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44294991)

The native North Americans had the oldest democracy.

- The oldest extant democracy maybe, with the Six Nations, but Classical Mediterannean democracy pre-dated this by 2000 years

They had a confederacy, a republic

- a tribal confederacy yes, but nothing resembling a republic in a modern sense

Their languages comprised of at least six written languages; we can at least count for two today but have identified several others and their approximate origins

- Unless you include the Nahuatl speakers of Mesoamerica as North American, no written language systems existed before European Conquest

They lived in harmony with the land.

- Native Americans practiced extensive modification of the land and are known from archaeological evidence to have driven many species to extinction

Native American society was just like any other human society: complex and possessing its own strengths, but also full of flaws and brutality. And needlessly idealizing Native American Civilization in order to measure it to some inapplicable European yardstick is just as racist as decrying it as somehow primitive and deserving of Conquest.

The fairest thing to say is that Native civilization was getting by just fine on its own until it had the misfortune to encounter one that had the fortune to discover iron metallurgy and gunpowder and (most ironically) smallpox earlier.

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 9 months ago | (#44298361)

No major wars on the pre-invasion American continent?
1. Have we really looked?
2. Mesa Verde and Chaco canyon were built for the same reasons folks built castles in early Europe.

In the Aleutian Islands, archeologists are discovering several periods of raiding and warring between islands, all of which correspond to less food available in the nearby ocean.
same old same old.

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

icebike (68054) | about 9 months ago | (#44298711)

I'm sorry, but you can't equate a tiny part time skirmish between tribes a major war no matter how much you hyperventilate.

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 9 months ago | (#44300237)

visit Mesa Verde. Climb the canyon walls with water and food in your arms instead of camping in tipis or wigwams by the streams where it is verdant and lush.

If the entire population fights, that is a major war. Unless you wish to define war as involving populations of a large size that would exclude the ancient Greek, Roman, and Babylonian civilizations as well as all the 'wars' mentioned in the Old Testament.

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

icebike (68054) | about 9 months ago | (#44301091)

I've been to Mesa Verde.

Its a tiny tiny place. 100 to 150 people maximum occupation at any given time.
It was occupied for 700 years. It was NOT built as a defensive fortress. There is little to suggest it was EVER under attack. Roughly half of the spaces were Kivas (religious buildings).

There was no huge war here. It was never conquered, simply abandoned.

Have you been anywhere else in north america? Its a big continent. You should get out and see it sometime. Yo

Re:Fertilizer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44292495)

> Not to mention the eternal riddle of why they tolerated those hairy smelly invaders from across the Atlantic.

What makes you think the natives weren't also hairy and smelly? Do you have some evidence that they invented the shower, shave, and/or deodorant?

Re:Fertilizer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340129)

The Cherokee had something they did often that they called "going to water". That is to say, they bathed. The settlers from Europe did not. It is a matter of record - they were stinky fuckers.

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

tsa (15680) | about 9 months ago | (#44296161)

Yeah we definitely learned from that! As soon as the aliens land we'll bomb them to oblivion as fast as we can. Good riddance!

Re:Fertilizer... (2)

betterprimate (2679747) | about 9 months ago | (#44291019)

You do realize they have a robust written and verbal language composed of multitudes of dialects and languages? We also know they have the oldest and longest sustained democracy history has ever seen.

The Iroquois's "greatness" rivals that of the Ancient Greek.

Re:Fertilizer... (2)

niado (1650369) | about 9 months ago | (#44296843)

You do realize they have a robust written and verbal language composed of multitudes of dialects and languages? We also know they have the oldest and longest sustained democracy history has ever seen.

The Iroquois's "greatness" rivals that of the Ancient Greek.

#1 - The Iroquois [wikipedia.org] did not have a written language. Cherokee [wikipedia.org] (which is a southern Iroquois language) has a syllabary developed by Sequoyah [wikipedia.org] in 1821. Other extant Iroquois languages are now written using IPA. [wikipedia.org]
#2 - The Iroquois league was probably formed after 1450. Democracy in ancient Greece supersedes this date by ~2000 years. It is certainly likely that rule by consensus (a form of democracy) was practiced on a local level before this date, though this would be hardly unique.

This is not to take away from what the Iroquois accomplished.

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44290901)

This entire topic is fishy and full of shit! Heck, animals were the first farmers, they have been spreading the seed and fertilizing them basically since the first existed. Man being an animal did it naturally too at first and more deliberately later. Some animals, like elephants for instance have even cleared areas for new growth. Man see, man do do, how they learned to farm and show off to Bubba. "Hey Bubba, watch this!"

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

AlecC (512609) | about 9 months ago | (#44295647)

Which is roughly what TFA said, rather than the contrary as had been assumed up to now.

Re:Fertilizer... (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 9 months ago | (#44290907)

Even native americans knew burying a fish next to a corn plant helped it grow faster

As far as anyone can tell that was actually a European trick that some Indians had learned. When the Indians taught it to the Pilgrims, the Pilgrims just figured it was an Indian trick.

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44290985)

Even native americans knew burying a fish next to a corn plant helped it grow faster (assuming a raccoon didn't dig up the fish first)

Yeah, I learned that myth as a kid too. This is a science article [sciencemag.org] .

Re:Fertilizer... (2)

Seumas (6865) | about 9 months ago | (#44291297)

I just always assumed fertilizer was discovered by a CEO.

Re:Fertilizer... (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 9 months ago | (#44295503)

Naw, it was developers and web designers who co-made the discovery when they promised everything would be better when they used the latest and greatest shiny.

Re:Fertilizer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44291715)

Native americans were a fun group and were first to put shit into empty sewn corn husk bags placed at the doorway of random tepees. They would light the bag then yell "Fire". One time when they couldn't light a bag several days passed then they noticed some green sprouts popping up. A Eureka moment happened.. that's what started the fertilizer industry !

Re:Fertilizer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44298347)

Why would you plant corn if you had fish ?

if this isn't news for nerds, stuff that matters.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44290529)

... then I don't know what is!

Typical... (4, Funny)

kd4zqe (587495) | about 9 months ago | (#44290535)

We find out that we excel at the use of spreading bullshit even earlier than we thought... The joys of being human!

Re:Typical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44290585)

So it was coincident with early management?

Bullshit! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44290537)

n/t

That means no text, laddie.

I hope they didn't spend public money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44290545)

I propose a moratorium of government spending on the history of scatology.

Are you sure politicians weren't the first users? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44290559)

Are you sure politicians weren't the first users? They have been spreading manure since the dawn of man kind.

How does this jibe with what's in the bible? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44290607)

I mean, the earth is only 6000 years old. Who pulled this '8000' out of their ass?

Re:How does this jibe with what's in the bible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44291987)

Obviously God created 2,000 year old shit when He made this place.

What's really surprising... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44290637)

...is that people were convinced that fertilizer was a modern "invention" in the first place. I'm sure it didn't take the genius of a particle physicist to notice that the grass grew better where the animals took a shit, but then I'm not an archaeologist. Kind of like the conspiracy theorists who claim that there was no way human beings could have build the Pyramids without some kind of advanced technology or alien intervention...people seem to seriously underestimate the wisdom of their ancestors, almost to the point of arrogance.

The funny part is that essentially nothing has changed beyond our level of technology. People believed in crazy, stupid shit in antiquity, how is that any different from today? Our ancestors had wonderful things like white make-up made from lead, they drank "radium water" to CURE illnesses. I can't imagine that worked out like it said on the tin. We're much more advanced now though. Now we have people drinking homeopathic remedies containing exactly zero molecules of often poisonous compounds like arsenic, we have walking pairs of tits like Jenny McCarthy telling people not to vaccinate their children...and for all of our wondrous technology, even despite "putting man on the moon," we still have people killing each other over what imaginary friend they've bonded with. Just like the good old days.

Re:What's really surprising... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 9 months ago | (#44291051)

What's really surprising is that people were convinced that fertilizer was a modern "invention" in the first place.

If by modern you mean 3000 years ago. RTFA. It wasn't an assumption - they just didn't have any evidence to the contrary. Much work has been done on early Middle Eastern agriculture because that's one of the spots where it started, and from whence it spread to Europe. Basically they just started looking more at early European agriculture.

Re:What's really surprising... (2)

able1234au (995975) | about 9 months ago | (#44291681)

I grew up on a farm and it was obvious that around cattle dung the grass was greener due to both the nutrients and that the dung held moisture longer. This would be obvious to any vaguely observant farmer. The bigger question is whether they would gather it or not. This works well when you have stables as the manure builds up. But would you go around picking up dung? That is time consuming. More likely you would let the animals into the fields after harvest to eat the stalks and leave their dung behind for next year's crop.

Early Discovery Due to Regional Climate? (4, Interesting)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 9 months ago | (#44290643)

Farmers in the Near East—what is today Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and neighboring countries—began cultivating plants and herding animals about 8000 B.C.E., but there are no signs that they used animal dung for anything other than as fuel for fires.

Since it's far more arid in the Middle East, the use of dung for fuel was more obvious due to dried dung being a common thing to find laying around. Where as in Europe, which is far wetter, seeing green things sprout up in dung in the Spring was more easily observed.

Re:Early Discovery Due to Regional Climate? (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 9 months ago | (#44290803)

Since it's far more arid in the Middle East, the use of dung for fuel was more obvious due to dried dung being a common thing to find laying around. Where as in Europe, which is far wetter, seeing green things sprout up in dung in the Spring was more easily observed.

Not true. 8000 years ago was smack dab in the middle of the middle of the ‘African Humid Period’ [allianz.com] .

Much of north Africa and ME countries were much wetter, and much more lush in prior times, beginning 12,000 years ago and lasting until 3,500 years ago. There is no way civilization would have begun in a middle east as arid as it is now, let alone flourished.

Re:Early Discovery Due to Regional Climate? (4, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 9 months ago | (#44290973)

Since it's far more arid in the Middle East

8000 years ago it wasn't as arid. Once upon a time, what now seems like the ironically named Fertile Crescent really was fertile. A lot of the degradation also has to do with soil exhaustion and erosion, cutting down too many trees, etc.

Re:Early Discovery Due to Regional Climate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44298159)

So was it man caused global warming that turned the fertile crescent to a barely habitable zone?

Re:Early Discovery Due to Regional Climate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44291043)

Farmers in the Near East—what is today Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and neighboring countries—began cultivating plants and herding animals about 8000 B.C.E., but there are no signs that they used animal dung for anything other than as fuel for fires.

Since it's far more arid in the Middle East, the use of dung for fuel was more obvious due to dried dung being a common thing to find laying around. Where as in Europe, which is far wetter, seeing green things sprout up in dung in the Spring was more easily observed.

Dry or wet, I really don't think it took any more of a layman 8000 years ago to realize that stuff grows out of shit quite well.

Clue in creationism (-1, Redundant)

morcego (260031) | about 9 months ago | (#44290675)

Clue in creationists using this as "proof" earth is only 9000 years old in 3 ... 2 ...

Re:Clue in creationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44291045)

And thank you, chucklefuck, for bringing creationism into the discussion and hence giving more airtime to those idiots. Well done you greasy skidmark.

Re:Clue in creationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44294509)

What does "clue in" mean in this context? Is this some neologism?

Re: Researchers Discover First Use of Fertilizer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44290783)

No shit??

Re: Researchers Discover First Use of Fertilizer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44290893)

What a load of BS

Pfft, it has nothing on superdirt from the Amazon (5, Informative)

transporter_ii (986545) | about 9 months ago | (#44291347)

It still covers up to 10% of the Amazon basin, is man made, and if we could figure out how they did it:

If recreated, the engineered soil could feed the hungry and may even help fight global warming, experts suggest.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/11/081119-lost-cities-amazon.html [nationalgeographic.com]

Imagine if manure spread thousands of years ago still grew crops today. The terra preta —"dark earth" — of the Amazon is still working today.

Re:Pfft, it has nothing on superdirt from the Amaz (1)

eriks (31863) | about 9 months ago | (#44292457)

I agree that terra preta is *awesome* -- and I want some in my garden -- but it's probably only about 2500 years old... Definitely should be possible to create it with charcoal and kitchen waste and a few years of experiments.

Obvious corollary (4, Funny)

real gumby (11516) | about 9 months ago | (#44291415)

If they learned to harness bullshit 8,000 years ago, than surely corporate bureaucracy must be that old as well!

Re:Obvious corollary (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44291773)

No, but I imagine we will determine the first elections were help about 8,000 years ago pretty soon, too.

Aaa! Unnatural and possibly dangerous foods (0)

mi (197448) | about 9 months ago | (#44291667)

If the humanity back then had today's ways of organizing and raising awareness, these potentially dangerous means of agriculture — meant solely to enrich the farmers at the expense of the consumers' health — would've been banned long ago.

Hunting and gathering are the only responsible way to get sustenance. Oh, wait, no — hunting is evil too. Gathering only!

Re:Aaa! Unnatural and possibly dangerous foods (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44297207)

Ug gathers you do not mate very often. Want to go bird hunting with Ug?
Meander. Meander taal.

had to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44292411)

this post is a bunch of horse shit

I thought it was going to be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44292895)

They learned to improvise devices to blow up the other tribe's settlement so they could help themselves to canoes, horses and womenfolk.

Rearrange the words (1)

Catmeat (20653) | about 9 months ago | (#44293667)

Rearrange the words of the headline and the story still makes sense...

>

First Researchers Discover Use of Fertilizer

Do bears shit in the woods? (1)

pravel (112978) | about 9 months ago | (#44295109)

Do bears shit in the woods?

Re:Do bears shit in the woods? (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 9 months ago | (#44298593)

Do bears shit in the woods?

Absolutely.That's why there are trees all over the places there aren't cities.
Conversely, Popes shit all over civilization which is why there are Catholic churches all over the places there aren't bears.

I am sure it started this way (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about 9 months ago | (#44295911)

Thousands of years ago farmer raising newly domesticated cows, pigs and chickens said "Hey, what are we going to do with all this manure?"

Another farmer said, "Sell it at a premium to the organic vegan hippies. They are already used to eating shit."

First use of fertilizer (1)

tsa (15680) | about 9 months ago | (#44296201)

I wonder what the researchers use fertilizer for... making bombs probably. It took them quite a while to figure out what it's really for. :P

Next, they'll figure out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44297391)

...who discovered manure! :-)

Re:Next, they'll figure out... (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 9 months ago | (#44298699)

...who discovered manure! :-)

The first bacteria. (Free oxygen was the first manure).
Of course, in the greater scheme of things, polite folks say, "What goes around, comes around."

But in the big house, the saying is, "One man's asshole is another man's vagina."

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