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Illustration of wolf in sheep costume

Wolf In Sheeps Clothing by Melissa Washburn

We have no wisdom traditions nearly as old as we are, and maybe that’s because we’ve buried something important.

In the last couple of months, we all got older—by some 100,000 years. New discoveries in Morocco suggest we’re now 300,000 years old! Even at 25 years per generation, that’s 12,000 generations. So, every report from Ancestry.com should now be as thick as an old phonebook, and we must accept the fact that we have no wisdom traditions nearly as old as we are. Maybe we’ve buried something important? In the last few years, civilization also got a lot older—and that could be a clue. Now we know that humans built massive structures at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey nearly 12,000 years ago. These 60-foot circles included 20-ton stones that required hundreds of people to move, and a 50-ton stone was left in the quarry. All this heavy lifting came before the wheel, before metal tools, before farming, and even before people raised sheep or goats. This massive stone complex was built by people we think of as lowly hunter-gatherers.  We also now know that people have been smarter for far longer than we thought. One likely theory about the evolution of the human brain suggests that we became so smart beca …

Stephen Kiesling is a former Olympic rower, cocreator of the Nike Cross Training System, and editor at large of Spirituality & Health. A 35th anniversary edition of The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence has just been published.


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