Thursday, January 8, 2015

"in a time when most people died at an average age of 35"

1) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : "in a time when most people died at an average age of 35" ; 2) What others have to say about Life Expectancy through history - and my take on that ; 3) Longevity in Selected Ancestry and Inlaws of Eleanor of Montfort ; 4) Tudor Times Demographical Stats ; 5) How Many Hours are we Talking About, and How Heavy? ; 6) New blog on the kid : When "Answers" Paint Middle Ages Black ; 7) Creation vs. Evolution : CMI Provided some Lifespans of the Past ; 8)Other list from CMI of lifespans ; 9) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Medieval and Early Modern Lifespans, Again: Berkeleys and Related ; 10) Story of a Cardinal's Title with Pre-Industrial Demographics

The Old Evasive Manuever v2

8:23 Not to mention that the "opposition's" best case [i e off this topic, admitting Elisaeus could have been as old as 35 at the bear incident] would make Elisha an incredible 87 years old at his death ... in a time when most people died at an average age of 35

I must admit, the general topic of the tekton here is actually somewhat more interesting, namely whether the bears avenging the honour of Elisaeus in IV Kings 2, are the act of a ruthless God who can't take a minute joke about a bald head of old age or more like stopping a harassment of one prophet who is being mocked for short hair or baldness.

Here is what Haydock has to say about the verses:

Ver. 23. Bald-head. It is not known whether Eliseus was really bald, or only wore his hair short, like the priests of the Lord, and the monks at present. It may also be a term of reproach, of which the emperors Julius Cæsar, Domitian, and Otho, were very sensible. Cæsar wore a crown of laurel, and Otho a sort of false hair, to hide this deformity. (Suetonius)

Quod summum formæ decus est, periere capilli. (Petronius) (Calmet)

Ver. 24. Cursed them. This curse, which was followed by so visible a judgment of God, was not the effect of passion, or of a desire of revenging himself; but of zeal for religion, which was insulted by these boys, in the person of the prophet, and of a divine inspiration; God being determined to punish in this manner the inhabitants of Bethel, (the chief seat of the calf-worship) who had trained up their children in a prejudice against the true religion and its ministers. (Challoner) --- The boys themselves were not so little as not to be aware of the insult they were offering to a minister of the God of Juda; and probably they acted thus out of hatred to him, at the instigation of their idolatrous parents. (Sanctius) (Calmet) --- Lord. He called on him (Menochius) to revenge his own cause, (Haydock) "that the people might learn to take care of their souls, by the fear of death." (St. Augustine) (Du Hamel)

From : Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 : 4 KINGS - Chapter 2

Now, back to the admittedly less interesting words in a rare blooper by the sometimes rather good J. P. Holding.

However, Holding/tektontv has here affirmed a modern prejudice from the atheist community of people living in the bronze age to a medium of 35.

I have some hunch of where they get it from, and if my hunch is right, they are plain wrong.

But one thing real quick first. "Most people died at average age x" is not a correct phrase in demography. People die at an average age x (a k a life expectancy at birth), but most people die far off that average age.

Usually material about ages of death from bronze age is scarce. Except literary texts (most of which are from Holy Bible) which do not really support - those I know anyway - the idea of men usually dying at 35.

Statistics would hardly be medically detailed as in our age, since there was not a medical insurance. Plus most archives of tax collectors are gone. From the time of the War of Troy, we have tablets which are such archives - but they mention the taxes that are to be or were paid, and to what temple of what divinity, which is how we know that Poseidon was back then known as Potei-Daon - basically very clearly "lord Dagon", the Philistine "god" also of the sea, in the Philistine case more specifically of fish. Probably smallest tax paying unit was not even individual as today, but households.

Tombs with life ages inscribed, if the cemetary is anything like complete, of if skeleta are dug up and examined medically would be a pretty good indication.

For medieval cemeteries (since Middle Ages is also an age for which "death at 35" is touted), tombs are often not complete, since after some time dug up and bones placed in columbaries (a process from which a certain sense of piety may have saved the tombs of the youngest dead with the prettiest inscriptions) - it is still done today or was up till recently in some Catholic countries.

For bronze age, getting back to when Elisaeus died, tomb material from abandoned sites may be in better preservation as to original structure - but it is scarce. Very scarce.

Middle Ages again : registers from manors where many lived, or from parishes with many farms or from cities.

Lacking in bronze age.

Middle Ages again : death rolls in fraternities and guilds where one prays for the deceased on their death dates (so those died on January 8 any year would be incribed for January 8, next time someone died on January 8 the guy would be inscribed below those already there and so on - same principle as martyrology, except in martyrologies it's about patrons you pray to, in death rolls about souls possibly in purgatory that you pray for.

But would such note age, mostly? And infants dead before 7 were not put there, unbaptised were considered damned to limbo and baptised who died before 7 (or after having lived longer as Down's syndromer's "idiots" or "sillies" as they were called) were considered as guaranteed heaven anyway. Baptism opens the gate, only mortal sin can close it, and below 7 (probably) and with Downs' syndrome (very probably, at least severe cases) one hasn't enough use of freewill to commit one.

So these would not be sources for infant mortality statistics, unlike the tombs. And without infant mortality, we have no such low figure as life expectancy 35. For correcting the skewed view this can give, there is "life expectancy at 21" by Middle Ages Historians.

Can we get sth similar to death rolls for Bronze Age? Lacking in bronze age. Too.

Touting the figure medium life expectancy 35 (without taking into account it may include a higher child mortality and therefore not be a real "life expectancy" in the proper sense of the word does give people a break when it comes to denigrating whatever historical age they want to denigrate, usually either Middle Ages (and thus Catholics) or Bronze Age (and thus Christians, Jews and Muslims in general).

  • "life was miserable back then : people died around 35" (so if you share ideas with back then you risk bringing back times when people die around 35 OR so their ideas which you share reflect the technological ignorance which did not allow people to live longer)

  • "life was miserable back then : people died around 35" (so they searched for comfort even clinging to a straw, and the ideas they recorded either in OT or in Scholastics and other medievals are the false comforts they took to, which we don't need because our life is supposedly so much brighter)

  • "people died around 35 back then : so old men were rare" (so young men were overly attached to authority of the few old men that were around and these were insufficient to give people back then a mature reflection over things).

Of course, once one realises that medium life expectancy 35 either is taken from another age and bandied about onto any age you have some grudge about or included children dying and once you had survived childhood your chances were getting about 60 or 70 (like Bible says for bronze age/iron age shift), all these implications fall to the ground.

Behind these there is another implication which is attractive to some: modern technology would be supposed to have raised normal life length from "35" to more than double - as opposed to just raising it from 65 to 75. Take into account how abortion has lowered it too. For once in a while! Aborting is a very much worse thing than seeing a child die from fever one cannot cure.

In other words, any challenge to primordial interest of maintaining technology is painted out as a threat of death at 35. Obviously not true - but it is being touted and it is being believed and it is being argued from.

So, if Elisaeus had been 87 when dying this would not have been unbelievable. People have gpone past 100 in our time and especially in Japan and Greece which were less or more recently much touched by modern technology.

I'll be back with another article about what others say about life expectancy in Middle Ages.

I will cite one source which observed English Aristocrats - who are better known than the people. If they are a fair sample, people lived long too - but Marxists will tell you they aren't, that commoners lived lots worse than aristocrats and died lots younger.

As for Bronze Age, we have more or less anyone's guess.

Except that the guess which places life expectancy for an adult to age 35 is extremely likely to be wrong. And if the reason is that one believes commoners were lots worse off, physically, then one is perhaps speculating for Marxism.

So, stating it would have been incredible if Elisaeus had died at age 87 "in a time when most people died at an average age of 35" is just lousy for someone bragging a video series called Miss Dusters (i e freely after Myth Busters).

Hans Georg Lundahl
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
St Lucian of Beauvais

No comments: