The Mother City ('Lost City' of Caral; Peru)

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Anonymous

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#1
Anyone else see the Horizon documenty on BBC2 (31/1/02) about the archeologicl work at the Pyramids of Caral, in Peru.
The pyramids, at least as old as the ones at Gaza, seem to disprove the commonly accepted theory that civilizations begin as a response to war or the threat of roving bands.
Unlike many other Ur-Cities, the Pryamids of Caral show no signs of fortifications or weapons. What they did find was evidence of a vast trading network, mainly involving fish, fishing nets and drugs ;).
So trade, not violence, seems to be the driving force behind civilization.
The Beebs link is
Horizon

For archival purposes ... Here's the text from the linked BBC webpage describing the documentary and its alleged implications.
- EnolaGaia, August 2018

The Lost Pyramids of Caral

BBC Two 9.00pm Thursday 31 January 2002

Caral dates from 2,600 BC making it one of the earliest known civilisations on Earth The magnificent ancient city of pyramids at Caral in Peru hit the headlines in 2001. The site is a thousand years older than the earliest known civilisation in the Americas and, at 2,627 BC, is as old as the pyramids of Egypt. Many now believe it is the fabled missing link of archaeology - a 'mother city'. If so, then these extraordinary findings could finally answer one of the great questions of archaeology: why did humans become civilised?

The mother of all cities

For over a century, archaeologists have been searching for what they call a mother city. Civilisation began in only six areas of the world: Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, Peru and Central America. In each of these regions people moved from small family units to build cities of thousands of people. They crossed the historic divide, one of the great moments in human history. Why? To find the answer archaeologists needed to find a mother city - the first stage of city-building.

Civilisation through conflict

They couldn't find one anywhere. Everywhere this first stage seemed destroyed or built over. And so, instead, scientists developed a number of theories. Some said it was because of the development of trade, others that it was irrigation. Some even today believe it was all because of aliens. Gradually an uneasy consensus emerged. The key force common to all civilisations was warfare.

The theory was that only the fear of war could motivate people to give up the simple life and form complex societies. To prove it, archaeologists still had to find a city from that very first stage of civilisation. If it showed signs of warfare, then the theory had to be true.

Peruvian archaeologist, Ruth ShadyWhen archaeologist Ruth Shady discovered her 5,000 year old city of pyramids in the Peruvian desert, all eyes were on the New World. Ruth's extraordinary city, known as Caral, is so much older than anything else in South America that it is a clear candidate to be the mother city. It also is in pristine condition. Nothing has been built on it at all. Instead laid out before the world is an elaborate complex of pyramids, temples, an amphitheatre and ordinary houses.

Make love not war

Crucially, there is not the faintest trace of warfare at Caral; no battlements, no weapons, no mutilated bodies. Instead, Ruth's findings suggest it was a gentle society, built on commerce and pleasure. In one of the pyramids they uncovered beautiful flutes made from condor and pelican bones. They have also found evidence of a culture that took drugs and perhaps aphrodisiacs. Most stunning of all, they have found the remains of a baby, lovingly wrapped and buried with a precious necklace made of stone beads.
SOURCE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2001/caral.shtml

 
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Anonymous

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#2
Yeah I saw it too -

I thought it was very brave of that academic chap Haas to admit he was wrong about war being the foundation for civilization, as in my personal experience academics will go to great lengths to fit the facts to the hypothesis (which is is exactly the opposite to the purpose of research)... and enter in to point scoring exercises by publishing opposing papers in journals etc to try and discredit other people's research.

How refreshing to see a group of scientists from different institutions all working together with a common purpose to discover the truth about the basis of ancient civilisation ... and even being prepared to admit they were wrong in some of thier preconceptions.

Hats off to them !!
 

intaglio

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#3
Did anyone else see the Horizon programme on the Lost City of Caral?The finding of this Mother City and that cities and hence civilisation were not triggered originally by warfare seems an important concept.

I just found that someone posted on this before me in News Stories here Please post there to keep the thread together.
 

intaglio

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#4
I feel like quoting Foul Old Ron ...

.... buggerit, millenium hand and shrimp. I went and posted on the same subject in General Forteana after carefully searching for a mention of Caral. Of course I didnt search under Horizon and Peru! Curses!!!! :hmph:

I'll put a link in to here and ask people to post here.

I agree that Haas showed himself remarkably open minded.

One thing that got my goat was the unnecessary *swelling and inspirational* music that was used to highlight the peaceful qualifications of the Caral civilisation

The link to the Horizon siteLost City of Caral
 

rynner2

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#5
I found the programme faintly irritating. I've followed archeology as a spectator sport for many years, but never before heard the theory that warfare 'created civilization'. Obviously Haas and presumably some others had this view, but was it ever a majority one? It seems to me the programme set up a straw man for the purpose of knocking it down again.

It seems to me that the most obvious way for a civilization to arise would be through growth. Start off with small villages doing a bit of this and a bit of that. But some villages will have more natural resources and will grow bigger, giving more chance for specialisation and further improvements in ways of producing food and other goods, leading to trade and more growth. (Population explosion is not a new thing!)

Now if there are several such civilizations in a region, it could well be that trade conflicts could lead to warfare, and thus I'd expect civilization and warfare to develop side by side. It looks like Caral was lucky in having the region to itself, so warfare never had a chance to grow. (Or perhaps the inhabitants were so blissfully stoned most of the time, and making love and playing flutes, that they just couldn't be arsed with fighting!)

But to put warfare first seems to put the cart before the horse - you've got to have at least two separate groups of people before you can have a war.
 
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Anonymous

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#6
U know that people usualy find what they are looking for in science, society, and archeological interpritation. I know they claimed to be distressed that the War theory didnt apear to be true but.... i wounder if its the "free market trickledown" etc thing has worked through...(if the antics of our local collage are anything to go by they have just started to use discredited "market" theories now!).... Im not saying they are wrong but....

gay Cambridge Scolars "discovered" that the Greeks respected and reveard Homonsexuality..

Victorian's "discoverd" that some animals wernt as evolved as others (i know thats not quite how it is but...) Which matched nicely with justification for raceism and treating poor people bady.

just an idea....i'll get me coat...........
 

harlequin2005

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#7
Although never having read any 'scholarly' debate on the underpinning of civilisation, I'd always taken as read that warfare was a driver of civilisation. For want of a better term the 'Harry Lyme' Hypothesis - In 500 years Italy laboured under some of the bloodiest, most violent and repressive regimes, and in a state of near perpetual civil war and produced Leonard, Michaelangelo and the Rennaisance. In the same period Switzerland lived under near continual peace and plenty and produced the cookoo clock. (Badly paraphased I know but it gives the gist)

There again, this could be a socialogical theory rather than an archelogical one, therefore I wouldn't have seen it...

8¬)
 

FelixAntonius

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#8
It sounds very reasonable sidecar, reminds me of a scientist called Stephen Schneider, reported in Discover in 1989, as saying when asked, as to his media approach:-

"we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public's imagination. That of course entails geting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have...Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being efective & being honest."


Personally, give me a Fortean any time!!!!!!
 

intaglio

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#9
harlequin said:
Although never having read any 'scholarly' debate on the underpinning of civilisation, I'd always taken as read that warfare was a driver of civilisation. For want of a better term the 'Harry Lyme' Hypothesis - In 500 years Italy laboured under some of the bloodiest, most violent and repressive regimes, and in a state of near perpetual civil war and produced Leonard, Michaelangelo and the Rennaisance. In the same period Switzerland lived under near continual peace and plenty and produced the cookoo clock. (Badly paraphased I know but it gives the gist)

There again, this could be a socialogical theory rather than an archelogical one, therefore I wouldn't have seen it...

8¬)
Whenever I see that Harry Lime quote it makes me want to reach for my gun! During the Renaisance Switzerland was never at peace - it was too busy supplying the mercenaries used by the Italian States for their warfare. Hence the large number of able bodied men free to explore art and science instead of going out to be maimed and killed.

Sorry i'll go and take the dried frog pills now
 

harlequin2005

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#10
Whenever I see that Harry Lime quote it makes me want to reach for my gun! During the Renaisance Switzerland was never at peace - it was too busy supplying the mercenaries used by the Italian States for their warfare. Hence the large number of able bodied men free to explore art and science instead of going out to be maimed and killed.

Hence the Swiss Guard at the Vatican and Bluntschli in GBS' 'Arms and the Man' (Yes I know its not the right period, but it illustrates the tradition of the Swiss as the weapon of choice in Europe)

I used the quote simply to illustrate an idea, not upset anyone :)

The art tended to be to the glory of the local warlord and the science seemed to try and make weaponry for aformentioned warlord. And I don't think the Swiss were actually fighting their own battles, just everyone elses...


8¬)
 

Breakfastologist

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#12
gay Cambridge Scolars "discovered" that the Greeks respected and reveard Homonsexuality..
Lucky the finest scholarly minds were applied to that one. You would think its pretty obvious to anyone who has read any Plato (I expect similar goes for other early writers, but I haven't read them) but apparently not. I would not suggest that the scholars were pushing some kind of gay itinerary, mind, as the references are pretty blatant most of the time.

Oh no, sorry, rereading the line I've quoted I notice it is homonsexuality, which is another matter entirely :p
 
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Anonymous

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#13
No walls = Peace?

A city with no walls?

Anyone recall that other city with no walls, Ancient Sparta?

The Spartans, famous, of course as proto-hippy pacifists who stopped the entire Persian army at Thermopolae by giving out flowers and holding a love in - NOT.

As I recall, Sparta had no walls so that the Spartan elite warriors would never grow weak or complacent, and also as a way of flaunting their warrior powers to the rest of the world: "We don't need walls 'cos we're dead hard".

I agree with Sidecar - scholars distort the past in their own image.

E.g., until a few years ago, everybody thought that the Olmecs were peace-loving tree huggers, in touch with the natural world. Now it turns out they were jagua worshipping psychos into child sacrifice.

M
 
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Anonymous

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#14
Having watched the prog last night, I'm astonished by the negative tone of the comments so far! OK, it wasn't all that detailed, but that comes with the format. I'd of thought that Forteans would be fascinated to see a scientists changing their position in light of new evidence that upsets an entire paradigm.

However, that wasn't what I found enthralling, and indeed moving. The fact that there appears to be evidence that a human culture operated for a thousand years without the apparent need for weapons gives me great hope for what we can achieve. Remember, although it didn't make this point, no weapons probably means not just no army, but no police, which means that this great civilisation and its monuments were created by volunteers. (One up for all us old anarchists!)

What did frustrate me was that the prog didn't touch on the question of gender relations in the Mother City. Was it a Mother or a Father city? Rianne Eisler & Marija Gimbutas (sp?) have argued that some early prehistoric city cultures in Europe were Goddess cultures, I wanted to know if the same was true in America.

All in all a really good documentary, and I'd recommend catching any repeats.
 
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Anonymous

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#15
Breakfast said:
Lucky the finest scholarly minds were applied to that one. You would think its pretty obvious to anyone who has read any Plato (I expect similar goes for other early writers, but I haven't read them) but apparently not. I would not suggest that the scholars were pushing some kind of gay itinerary, mind, as the references are pretty blatant most of the time.

Oh no, sorry, rereading the line I've quoted I notice it is homonsexuality, which is another matter entirely :p

how about that!..i invented a whole new strand of sexuality!... do u think they are good at danceing or interior design?....
 
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Anonymous

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#16
the other day i heard an interview on radio 4 with a representative of a South American Government that didnt have an army!..(i think it was Pararague..(Spellt wrong...Paragwi it sounds like ..sorry im thick).... anyway refreshingly he said..."well it sort of withered away, we took some money for schools from its budget, some money for roads, and so on. Eventuly we didnt have an army and we found we didnt need one" !!! this in South America!...can be done.......
 
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Anonymous

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#17
Didn't mean to be negative...

Wintermute, I for one didn't mean to be negative, just sceptical of attempts to find Eden in the past.
without the apparent need for weapons
What about hunting weapons? Or were they vegans as well?
Remember, although it didn't make this point, no weapons probably means not just no army, but no police,
If nobody has weapons, then the criminals and dissidents don't have weapons. Perhaps the police practiced unarmed combat. Or used planks of wood.
...which means that this great civilisation and its monuments were created by volunteers.
Or perhaps an oppressive religious ruling class tricked them into it.
No evidence of an army or militia doesn't mean they didn't have one - think of ancient Minoa, the civic character of the extant remains, and the size of the Minoan Empire.
...great hope for what we can achieve.
Well, just suppose this city really did manage without an army or militia and never fought a war - well and good. A pacifist civilisation might just work in isolation with no barbarians at the gates.
But that only means that that worked for them in that particular circumstance. It's like People Power: effective in the Phillippines, but just a chance to massacre dissidents at Tiannemen Square (pardon the spelling).
I'm afraid that most of what's been achieved in terms of civilisation has been done behind a ring of steel.

M
 
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Anonymous

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#18
I'm not suggesting that it would be possible to get to a weaponless society overnight, or perhaps ever. I'm certainly not a pacifist, and I agree that sometimes civilised values have to be defended by force of arms, as in WWII. However, the fact that a civilisation appears to have existed without weapons, armies etc for a thousand years means (as someone said on the prog), that violence isn't an innate human trait. If that's true, its incredibly important, because it means that there is some point in working towards a culture where we no longer use weapons against each other.


No evidence of an army or militia doesn't mean they didn't have one - think of ancient Minoa, the civic character of the extant remains, and the size of the Minoan Empire.
I was under the impression that some schools of thought believe that Minoa was a peaceful, Goddess culture, which found it necessary to defend itself against the forces which overran it after the eruption - I haven't looked this up though, so I'm quite
prepared to be corrected.

attempts to find Eden in the past
One of the interesting things about stories like the Mother City, and suggestions that the transition from gatherer/hunter cultures to agriculture mafde people work harder and die earlier is that the various cultures with an 'Eden', 'Golden Age' or whatever myth might actually be basing them on the dim memory of reality, rather than just fantasising.
 
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Anonymous

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#19
Ah well...

Before you can have a pacifist civilisation, you have to eliminate or really very thoroughly absorb, all internal external threats or potential threats.

You probably couldn't even risk a multicultural approach because one sub-culture might diverge and arm itself to impose its will on the rest. This means extirpating all hint of religion, because divine revelation validates and motivates all manner of, otherwise pointless, cultural facism.

Such a civilisaion doesn't actually sound like a very nice place to live.

One of the interesting things about stories like the Mother City, and suggestions that the transition from gatherer/hunter cultures to agriculture mafde people work harder and die earlier is that the various cultures with an 'Eden', 'Golden Age' or whatever myth might actually be basing them on the dim memory of reality, rather than just fantasising.
It is real. As I recall from a college anthropology class, hunter-gatherers, even today (as long as nobody's shooting at them or trying to commit genocide) only 'work' a few few hours a day - almost idylic, apart from the abandoning-the-old-to-die thing.
I was under the impression that some schools of thought believe that Minoa was a peaceful, Goddess culture, which found it necessary to defend itself against the forces which overran it after the eruption - I haven't looked this up though, so I'm quite
prepared to be corrected.
Me too. Is their an archaeologist in the house?:D

Worth adding, though, that they got trashed by the Achaeans so either (i) they were pacifists and it was a bad idea, or (ii) they had an army but weren't very good.


that violence isn't an innate human trait
Ah, well, here we'll have to differ. I think violence is an innate trait, especially for (most) men (a hormone thing). Besides

civilised => resist instinctive urges => frustration => violent feelings.

As far as non-violent civilisations are concerned, I think you can achieve such a society as long as you embrace and channel our innate violence. A future utopia would have to have vast, continent-wide games of paintball once a month... or use lots of drugs.


M
 
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Anonymous

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#21
What about Pax Romani?
Ask the Carthaginians... no hang on you can't because the Romans killed or enslaved them all, demolished Carthage down to the foundations and scattered salt on the fields...

Seriously, though, Xantic, can you be more specific?
 
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Anonymous

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#22
I was referring to that the romans seems to have had a very good internal peace. But I don't know much about it.
 
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Anonymous

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#23
Roman peace

First, it depends on your definition of peace.

There were some large revolts in the border provinces - mostly bloodily crushed. Then there's the civil wars bracking the start and end of the classical empire. In terms of political life - corrupt would be an understatement. Then there's the issue of civic life - well the streets weren't exactly safe.

Then there's how they achieved the Pax:

Basically a ring of steel. They had to fight constant wars with the hairy barbarians on the fringes. They also had to trash or subjugate other advanced cultures around them, with the exception of the Persians who were as hard as they were. They had to crush disent internally - didn't work with the Christians, more's the pity - and they vented their violent urges through the arena.

In other words, the Pax Romana wasn't very peaceful. It was patchy, enforced with a big - very, very big and relentless... OK so the metaphore breaks down - stick, and if you opened your ears you'd hear plenty of screaming from the arena, the crucifixions, not to mention the sound of slaves being flogged.

There's debate over how the Roman Empire collapsed. I'd argue it collapsed because the Romans lost cohesion and left defence to others:
-the aristocrats - the traditional officer class - grew to despise the military
-the church sucked in all the young innovators and challenged civil authority
-the government hired barbarians to fight barbarians

M
 

dot23

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#24
having missed the documentary I can't stay on thread - unusually ;P

MHP - I thought the main reason for the collapse of the empire was the army being overstretched on too many fronts, and a succession of bloody battles against progresivey larger and better equiped armies. that and the aristocracy going barmy from too much alcohol and drug abuse.
 
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Anonymous

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#25
This means extirpating all hint of religion, because divine revelation validates and motivates all manner of, otherwise pointless, cultural facism.
Thats true really only in terms of the desert monotheisms (Judaism/Xtianity/Islam). Religious wars were pretty much unknown before they came along, and remained unknown in places not influenced by them. Even within these religions there are tendencies which not even those who see them as heretics would accuse of 'cultural facism'; eg Quakers, Sufis, and, to be honest, large numbers of Anglicans.

Worth adding, though, that they got trashed by the Achaeans so either (i) they were pacifists and it was a bad idea, or (ii) they had an army but weren't very good.
They got trashed by the Achaeans because a huge volcanic eruption destroyed their major city, and the resulting climate change wrecked their economy. Up till then they'd been able to hold them off.
 

intaglio

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#26
Pax Romana

This really was a peace because compared to what went on before it was. From our point of view it was authoritarian, corrupt and downright aggressive. From the point of view of the conquered you were no longer at constant war with your neighbours, there was a consistent legal system and you could travel from one end of the empire to the other with a good chance of survival. You had excellent trade links and a common currency and language - oh and you could still worship your tribal gods.

It is true that if you were a common slave life was pretty awful, so no change there, but an educated slave had a good chance of becoming a roman citizen. Oh and in the Republic gladiators rarely fought to the death - this is why gladiator school was a popular way of getting out of military service (good food, good pay, and loadsa women).
 
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Anonymous

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#27
Dot23 said
MHP - I thought the main reason for the collapse of the empire was the army being overstretched on too many fronts, and a succession of bloody battles against progresivey larger and better equiped armies. that and the aristocracy going barmy from too much alcohol and drug abuse.
Yes, but if all the bright sparks hadn't been busy undermining secular society when they should have been devising new and more dynamic ways of defending the empire, we migth all be speaking Latin today.

Wintermute said:
Thats true really only in terms of the desert monotheisms (Judaism/Xtianity/Islam). Religious wars were pretty much unknown before they came along, and remained unknown in places not influenced by them. Even within these religions there are tendencies which not even those who see them as heretics would accuse of 'cultural facism'; eg Quakers, Sufis, and, to be honest, large numbers of Anglicans.
Yes, I blame the desert monotheisms. I think seemingly benign manifestations, e.g. Anglicanism, are just the virus in its dormant state. A totally peaceful state would have to stamp them out too, just in case. Religions that might be allowed to survive would be those that were a cult rather than a sect, e.g. Cult of Mithras in the Roman Empire, sharing more or less a world view with everybody else, but seeking a special relationship with one god.

They [the Minoans- got trashed by the Achaeans because a huge volcanic eruption destroyed their major city, and the resulting climate change wrecked their economy. Up till then they'd been able to hold them off.
Good point. However, had they been an armed-to-the-teeth warrior culture perhaps they would have repelled the invaders anyway, or migrated elsewhere as the Goths did when driven out by the Huns. Any pacifist elements in their culture won't have helped.

BTW Intaglio said
Oh and in the Republic gladiators rarely fought to the death - this is why gladiator school was a popular way of getting out of military service (good food, good pay, and loadsa women).
Interesting; do you have a source for that? I'd like to read it.
 
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Anonymous

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#29
I think you'll find that its Costa Rica in central america that has no army, and its the most stable country in a volatile part of the world.
 
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Anonymous

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#30
But I bet they have a police force

Aliester6666 said
I think you'll find that its Costa Rica in central america that has no army, and its the most stable country in a volatile part of the world.
This is new to me. Fascinating. Perhaps the Costa Ricans are truly a civilisation without walls.

I assume there's a Costa Rican police force with the capability to physically restrain criminals - so whatever their strategic stance, internally they can't be Wintermute's anarchist pacifist heaven.... or can they be? Wouldn't the armed drug lords take over if they were - or is that just a stereotype?

I don't know anything about them, so can you tell me, do the Costa Ricans have:
-a position as a buffer state between two larger nations?
-anything worth invading them for?
-a treaty with anybody big, e.g. the USA?
-an armed police force?
-a militia?

M
 
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