When did human civilization begin?  If we look at this as a scientific investigation (and not a quiz of Biblical stories), the best answer, based on current knowledge, is sometime during the last Ice Age—between 40,000 and 30,00 years ago—in Europe and Asia, by descendents of our African ancestors.

The Hyborian Age, as envisioned and chronicled by Robert E. Howard, began somewhere around 25,000 years ago. “Conan the Barbarian” was a native of it. Howard posited that this age of man began after the flooding/fall of Atlantis, and ended before modern civilizations arose in the Far East.

There are extraordinarily sophisticated cave paintings in Europe that were created at least 30,000 years ago.  Some of them bear incredibly potent 3-D illustration effects. (Don’t take my word for it: you can look it up!)

Modern history (i.e., the story of man) is composed of written records from after “the Flood.” It tells of human societies in the Middle East, Asia, South America, and other coastal communities around the world. The “Flood,” as should be fairly obvious, was a rise on global waters due to the end of the Ice Age, with concomitant melting and coastal flooding as the planet began to warm once again. Dozens, if not hundreds, of civilized societies located on seashores and riversides were subsumed by the rising of the world’s waters due to glacial melting. Many were in the Mediterranean and now lie underwater.

I believe that Robert E. Howard was correct, that humanity had reached a fairly high level of sophistication before the ice retreated. Much, however, was lost in the floods that followed the melting. But much remained: geology, geometry, astrology/astronomy, the intentional planting of seeds, animal husbandry, the making of cloth and clothing—all carried over from antediluvian times.

So much was lost in the flooding . . . but so much knowledge survived, that by 3,000 years Before the Common Era (BCE), human civilization was once again modern and sophisticated. Mathematics, architecture, animal and plant breeding, plumbing, art and literature had already become part of who we are.

But who were those first advanced societies—how long ago did they begin, and how did they maintain sophisticated knowledge despite the trauma of worldwide natural catastrophes? In the history of human literature, these questions have driven some of our finest, most inquiring minds to write some of our finest, most inspiring epics.

“Where did we come from?”  remains the basis for and exploration of some of our most inspired and inspiring works of fiction and nonfiction. It is the most compelling investigation of the human mind.