Rivers of Babylon - history and science
Elias Hakalehto, PhD, Adj. Prof.
CEO, Finnoflag Oy
An Alumnus of the University College London, U.K. (Biochemical Engineering)
Vice President, International Society of Environmental Indicators
Lifetime Fellow Member, International Society of Development and Sustainability (Japan)
(Published on the 28th of October 2022)
It is customary to refer to subjective claims as a science or scientific approach as if this coupling would automatically make our claims correct or justified. "Not all is gold that glitters" can thus be modified to "Not all is a science that is insisted to be". However, there are also limitations in pure science. Moreover, many applications of science merely base on engineering or other practical results or experience. - One of the first areas globally where influential agricultural societies eventually led to the establishment of cities was in Mesopotamia around the big rivers, Eufrat and Tigris. The building up of the city-states surrounded by raw materials producing fields and boosted by irrigation and foreign trade turned a new page in human history. The old cultures in the region also initiated, exercised and cultivated a scientific approach.
To elaborate, we have to ask ourselves questions. Whose science? - In fact, science is a process, a continuum, or a stream. The result is more the history of science than a cosmopolitan science or cemented collection of facts. As with the buildings, the scientific concepts or theorems also deteriorate if they do not get repaired or progressed in due time. Finally, the outflowing efforts of man will meet eternity as the water in streams meets the ocean. This delta is the "mouth of a big river" in the ancient name of Egypt, "Kemi", and is also occurring in the name of a Finnish town. It locates at the mouth of Kemijoki, the longest river in Finland. Because of some other evidence, some researchers claim that the Finnish language does not belong to the Indo-European language group or the biblical Yaphetic group. Basic Finnish somewhat resembles the Semitic languages of the Levant.
In the best case, science's progress should be based on understanding history and the role of technologies in society, and perhaps most importantly, on the interplay and balances with the natural ecosystems. Under the sun, it was possible to harvest solar energy into plants and crops. To make it chemical energy that could produce food, nutrition, and many forms of chemical goods, not forgetting the energy commodities.
Culturally and linguistically, the Finnish people and language (as well as the other FennoUgric languages) differ remarkably from the surrounding Germanic, Slavic, Roman or other traditions. Professor of Assyriology at the University of Helsinki, Simo Parpola, has pointed out the direction of some controversy. Namely, he is firmly in the opinion of and has published evidence about the Finnish being related to the ancient and disappeared Sumeri language spoken in the first confirmed state system in the world. He has identified more than 80 central words identical or showing clear linkages or similarities between the Sumer and "Suomi" (the Finnish name of our language).
If the nations' names are investigated, it is good to remember that both countries have opened up and dried agricultural land out of swamps. And the "swamp" or "marshland" is "suo" in Finnish and "sug" in Sumer. The Earth is "maa" and "ma", respectively. They had a common word for open seas, "ab" or "a-ab-ba" in Sumer, and "Aava" or "aappa" in Finnish. Sumerian culture was the first "high culture", and its language could derive from the original "protolanguage". The land name "Finland" is "Suomi", which is supposed to mean fertile land taken from the river or sea. The word designating the soil or land is one of the most basic in the language.
In the soil, the humic substances constitute the fertile texture together with soil micro-organisms. The latter is supposed to develop in a healthy soil ecosystem, making it increasingly resilient. Therefore, it is short-sighted to fertilize the soil to obtain bigger crops. If fertilization is carried out mistakenly, in the long term, fertility will disappear. In the book describing the Great Depression, American Nobelist writer John Steinbeck tells about the loss of fertile land in the US Midwest as dust. This obliged the local people, the "okies", to wander to the West.
"Endless streams of people moved out on the highways, like ants searching for food. These are agrarian folks pushed off their land by great machines. As they flow toward the West's fertile fields, hunger and desperation change them". John Steinbeck, "The Grapes of Wrath", Viking Press, NY, 1939.
In today's world, it is crucial to maintain food production, which requires fertilizers or soil improvement, as well as water and fuel. We have in my company Finnoflag Oy, therefore, kept searching for novel means of sustaining soil. It includes the integration of industrial recycling with the circulation of substances in Nature. - We live on "Mother Earth". And our Motherland "will show us her friendly face" if we behave ourselves. She does not forsake us, but is it us who have forfeited her? - Any technological or cultural development stream should be built upon the best wisdom it carries. Just like a river consists of the accumulated minerals of the soils on its way and that of the waters united with it. For the sake of all of us.
Regardless of the country or its location, its inhabitants are inherently integrated into its soil. Although the goods are subjected to international trade, which has been increasing, it is also evident that the distribution of health, wealth and nutrition are always under various threats. Although justice is requested or demanded, it seldom occurs in full glory. The legislation has faults and incomplete intentions or interpretations that unavoidably lead to miseries and corruption. Although taxation is supposed to collect funds for equal opportunities of various peoples, it often leads to injustice in the distribution or built-in errors in the collection. The latter are paving the way to paint, troll targeting or misusing the initial purpose of the law, leading to increasing inequality, not lessening it. And justice is occurring in proportion to fair land use.
Soil has always been the object of human wrongdoings. We listed the three interrelated concepts in a previous blog (HYPERLINKKI "Secret garden in the heartland of cultures", 8th of July, 2022), namely:
1. microbial culture (or microbiome)
3. human culture
The progress of human societies is linked with socioeconomic development, which springs from the well of sustainability and ecological balances. It is said that the Saharan desert was also initiated because of excessive farming with irrigation that eventually salted the soil. This lesson was likely to be bitterly learnt by the ancient Sumers who disappeared northwards as a nation without anybody knowing exactly where. - At some point in history, many countries were attached to the Assyrian kingdom, including the areas of today's Syria. There was also a widely spoken language of Aramaic, which is also one of the original languages in the Bible. It also has many common words with the Finnish language.
In later times, the superpower of that time, Assur and its ruler Sargon II conquered the biblical North State Israel, moving its people violently to the areas between the upper Eufrat and Tigris and Media, starting in the year 721 BC. There the ten exiled tribes of Israel, derived from the sons of Jacob, decided to move as a nation northwards. They searched for the legendary "Arzadeth", which was then told to be an uninhabited land. Its location has remained unknown and somewhat controversial. The escape of Israelites took place sometime in the last years of the Assyrian state, before 609 BC. The South State Judah was about the same time conquered by the Babylonian king Nebukadressar II, and its population was outrooted to Babylon in 598 BC, and Jerusalem was destroyed. In 539 BC, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin returned to their homeland and rebuilt it.
The ancient truth is that the soil and its microbes must flourish to provide healthy succession and versatility of soil microcosmos. Many leading experts have stated it that the "Food Crisis" equals to "Soil Crisis". This fact should be kept in mind by governments, elites and decision-makers. Otherwise, we are on the path towards totalitarian states, where the monopoly of resources like food and other necessities could lead to injustice and collapse, as has taken place many times in history. Democracy, indeed, is a garden by the riverside.
The streams of cultural development have flown regardless of human politics, disputes or wars. Any wise ruler would respect the ages-old truths about the interdependence of man and his environment and avoid conflicts with them. But, at the end of days, we seemingly need to refer to the words of John Steinbeck in his book "The Grapes of Wrath":
"The last clear, definite function of man - muscles aching to work, minds aching to create beyond the single need - this is man. To build a wall, to build a house, a dam, and in the wall and house and dam to put something of Manself, and to Manself take back something of the wall, the house the dam; to take hard muscles from the lifting, to take the clear lines and form from conceiving. For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments."
Besides the soil, rivers have an extraordinary and crucial function for our human cultures. As it is vital to safeguard the structure and fertility, it is also warranted to get the water to make food production increasingly feasible on a sustainable basis. There is an alternative to an overly dominating attitude toward the land. Then the cultures may flourish being established on the agriculture platform based on the microbial strains and their interactions with the rivers that contributed to their birth.