The Egyptians were one of the first great civilizations to arise along the Nile River. These tanned people wore diaper-like outfits and drove around in compact chariots. Their big claim to fame was constructing giant pyramids so they could store dead pharaohs wrapped from head-to-toe in adhesive tape.
They must have been extremely big rulers because their tombs were humongous. Nobody knows how they were built. Many believe aliens were behind them. My thinking is that it was a highly advanced group of people in spaceships traveling at the speed of light could build a structure made of rocks, come on, what about plastic or fiberglass. It doesn’t even have automatic doors to get in or how about duct tape for the mummies? They also came up with something called hieroglyphics: symbols and stick men in suggestive positions, but hey, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get kids to read. They found scribbling on hard surfaces was too time consuming so they invented papyrus and thus the first uh hem, hot images, were set down on paper. Forget how the pyramids might have been built, the bigger mystery was how the human body could contort into some of those positions.
For labor they used slaves, like the Jews, to build these monstrous monuments that took years to construct. The Jews were like, “We’re tired of lifting big blocks and making large triangles.” They thought it was all one big pyramid scheme, but their whining had no effect on the pharaoh, so they said, “Oy vay, we’re out of here.” The pharaoh was like, “Oh no you ain’t.”
Moses stepped up and said, “You gots to let my people go.”
“I ain’t gots to do nothing,” the pharaoh snapped back.
With God in Moses’ corner, the big guy threw down a number of plagues on the Egyptians. There was a famine, scores of swarming bugs, and a bloody Nile to name a few.
Ra, the sun god, was no help to the pharaoh so finally he succumbed. “Okay, I’ve had it,” the pharaoh barked. “I want all you crazy Jews out of here… and take your God with you, because I’m so sick of sleeping with frogs in my bed and picking festering boils on my skin.”
That sounded good to the Jews so they fled north to a promised land, taking a shortcut through the Red Sea. They brought everything they could with them; food, tents, silver, goats, a golden calf, etc. The one thing they forgot was a map. Eventually, after forty years, they found a little plot of dessert land with high hopes of just living there in peace and quiet. Location, location, location. If the Jews knew what they were in for, they might’ve stayed in Egypt building pyramids. The pharaoh was left to cuddle with the Sphinx.
On the other side of them was a growing empire known as Babylonia, where the people spoke in incoherent sentences. It is thought that all foreign languages came out of there. The poor drank beer and the rich consumed wine, which may explain all the babbling. They invented the potter’s wheel most likely to hold their booze. They also invented the seed plow which really pissed the oxen off. They were responsible for the first system of writing, and the earliest known codes of law.
These two elements paved the way for “the attorney.” This prompted them to go grab the Jews and enslave them because they made the best lawyers. So, in 587 BCE, Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar’s army captured Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and exiled the Jews to Babylon (modern day Iraq). Once again, the Jewish people were on the move.
At some point, the Persians rose to power under Cyrus who developed a unique form of governing. Everyone conquered could keep their language and culture, but not their money. Taxes went to maintain the exquisite gardens, which they trimmed into animal shapes. They would sit under fig trees and work on Algebra problems because they like to do math for fun.
They passed this knowledge onto the Jews, many of whom became shrewd accountants. Ultimately, Cyrus found the Babylonians annoying so he crushed their kingdom. The Jews exhausted him with their constant complaining about psychosomatic illnesses so he released them because the elderly women often made him feel guilty.
After arriving in Jerusalem, the Hebrews rebuilt their city and visited the temple to thank God that all their troubles were behind them. If they only knew. For now,
things were looking up for the Jews. From Cyrus to Darius to Xerxes, these Persian rulers amassed a vast kingdom. Eventually, their greed for more power would be their downfall as they attempted to expand their territory into Greece. It was a no brainer because the Greek girls were virgins with a dowry.
In the Mediterranean, a teenage boy known as Alexander strolled onto the scene. He was taught by the famous philosopher Aristotle, and pondered questions like “Why haven’t I taken over the world yet?” Up to now, the 19 year-old was only known by Alexander the So-So, but soon the hairy warrior would begin a snatch-and-grab mission in the civilized frontier.
He started out by uniting the Greek city-states and led the Corinthian League. It wasn’t enough. The type A go-getter began to excel by becoming the king of Persia, Babylon and Asia, and created Macedonian colonies in Iran. It was quite an impressive résumé for such a young man who also liked to redecorate the empires he conquered. He changed his last name from “the So-So” to “the Great,” which had a better ring to it. Malaria struck him in 323 BC and Alexander learned he couldn’t conquer death.
Athens had developed into a hub with hang out areas such as the Acropolis and the Temple. Renowned philosophers like Socrates postulated, “To be is to do” while Plato formulated “To do is to be.” Later Sinatra chimed in with “To do be do be do.” Aristotle just wanted to know, “Who’s your daddy?” These life teachers were respected and just wanted to know why. Was that too much to ask? Today, they would be considered unemployed bums with a worthless major.
On the other side of Greece, the city of Sparta was on the rise. It was known for its elite fighting force, which wore skimpy outfits. The soldiers were called hoplites because they could quickly hop around with their shields and spears. Soon Athens and its empire and the league led by Sparta would butt helmets and wrestle in the Peloponnesian war. This would bring about marathons and Olympics.
They had gods for everything and plays were written about them. The characters lived in oceans, caves, mountains and the depths of hell, to name a few locales. There were gods of love, music, war, pleasure, drunkenness, etc. Those Greeks had a lot of breadth. This god crew did silly things like go on Odysseys, fight oneeyed monsters, kill siblings, sleep with their mothers and even turned people to stone. These gods were so confident that they refused to wear clothing when being sculpted. One thing is for sure, no one ever asked the Venus di Milo to ever lend a hand.
Off in the Far East, the Chinese were busy building a great wall in hopes of keeping invaders or pesky rodents out of their country. Dynasties from the Shang to the Ming to the Qing would rule. Many traveled by horseback but for some reason were very poor drivers. Chinese restaurants were popping up everywhere and egg rolls were the rage. Kingdoms soon began warring because people were upset about the nonspecific lame fortunes in their cookies. The emperor was the only one who ever won. Monks began fighting each other with kung fu, swords and chopsticks. At some point, gun powder was invented and soon firework stands were popping up all over the countryside.
To the west, in the boot shape territory known as Rome was a republic supposedly
Julius Caesar climbed the corporate ladder from infamous general to the Godfather of all Rome. As their leader he would conquer more land, invent a salad and get busy with Cleopatra, who would later get busier with Caesar’s best friend Marc Anthony. “When in Rome…”
The Roman Empire reached from Europe to Africa to the Middle East, then reached in everyone’s pockets. Sometime in the first century, over in Israel, the son of God raised a ruckus by healing people and teaching folks how to love one another. Some didn’t like that message so they decided to teach their own philosophy of hating and crucified Him. The love your neighbor thing finally did catch on and began to resonate and this new Christianity began to spread all over the world.
Everyone had their own ideas of how this religion should be run, so someone had to be in charge of the flock and thus the pope became the new emperor. The pontiffs of ancient times helped in the spread of Christianity and the resolution of various doctrinal disputes. It was their way or the highway. The highway to hell that is. Major decisions like being forgiven, going to heaven and how much money you need to give to the church would now rest in his holy hands.
Over the years, Rome began to weaken and was splitting into two empires. In 455, the barbarians, namely the Vandals sacked the city. It was like Revenge of the Nerds. The Germanic tribe looted what they could snatching things like grain, pottery, candles, togas and lots of wine barrels, after all, it’s not a party without the booze. The Romans were like “What the hell happened to the good life of decadence and debauchery?” The senator bribes would stop, the orgies would seize and the pope got the hell out of Dodge and moved to Byzantium while the Jewish people would be scattered around the world. In the other hemisphere, the Aztecs in Central America were eating chocolate Acai berries and ripping out hearts to appease their Sun God. The North American Indians were enjoying life—hunting buffalo, smoking peyote and tickling each other with eagle feathers.
The Byzantium Empire started to flourish as Europe was coming into the light while still in The Dark Ages. The economy was among the most advanced in that whole neck of the woods for many centuries. The main city, Constantinople was a prime hub in a trading network that at various times extended across nearly all of Eurasia and North Africa. It was the main stop on the Silk Road which would later became Route 66. They gave us mosaics, palaces, monasteries and probably area rugs. The Muslims and Turks would often attack them because they were stealing all their mathematics and astronomy knowledge and making claims like they invented the Pythagorean Theorem and discovered not only the Big Dipper but the little one as well. The Byzantines were a smorgasbord of people that spoke Greek, Arabic, Latin and maybe even some Pig Latin. They would flourish for over 1,000 years.
The authority of the Byzantine emperor as the legitimate Roman emperor was challenged by the coronation of Charlemagne in the year 800. He was crowned the new emperor by Pope Leo and thus began the Middle Ages, which began at the start and not the middle. This king basically united most of Europe, converting them to Christianity with mottos like, “You either love our God of love or we’ll kill you.” Hey, whatever works. This attitude spilled over to the crusaders in the tenth century. The crusaders, who used Constantinople as a rest stop, had a mission to free the Jews from Muslim control and gain access to the holy sites in Jerusalem and to prevent the expansion of Islam to the near east. At times, they killed some Jews obviously forgetting their goal of freeing the Jews.
Things reached a grinding halt in Europe when the Black Death emerged. This disease really plagued the people. It was carried by fleas on the bodies of rats… and that’s fur real. It was a valuable lesson in always brushing your rat before snuggling in bed with it. The Bubonic Plague wiped out over 100 million people. On an up note, it really opened up the job market. You could not warn people of the dangerous epidemic by tweeting either, simply because no one could read. Because of the devastating disease, people reawakened to their own immortality and got in touch with their humanistic spiritual side and their world view began to change. The renaissance was about to blossom. Can you say naked paintings? We’ll delve more into that in part two.
by Jeff Charlebois
Check out Jeff’s hilarious new book Medical Secrets Revealed available now at amazon.com