Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Hebrew tradition calls the leader of the fallen angels by the name Lucifer. He is also known as the Morning Star. The same term is used by early Jewish Christians to describe the Messiah.

Both the Messiah and Lucifer claim the throne of the mountain of God, the holy assembly. Indeed, there are two astronomical morning stars -- Venus and Mercury alternate in that position depending on their orbit relative to the Sun and Earth.

The Bible uses two analogies for Lucifer's camp of fallen angels -- the cities of Tyre and Babylon. Both were known for their rich markets and international trade. As the king of Tyre or Bablyon, Lucifer entices the rulers of the earth to enter into trade relations by the promise of riches.

By increasing his wealth and power, Lucifer attempted to raise himself above the heavens:

Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou has said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God...By thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches.

Ezekiel 28:2-4

The prophetic condemnations of Tyre and Babylon have more of a moral sense than a focus on idolatry. The luxurious nations through their commerce have become haughty and their greed has engendered violence. They attempted to rival the seat of God with the beauty and wealth of their great cities.

Sometime before the middle of the second millennium BC, we see evidence of a great spike in trade between Southeast Asia and the regions of eastern Africa and West Asia. The trade consisted primarily of aromatics and precious metals.

The earliest hard evidence of the spice trade comes in the discovery of cloves at Terqa in ancient Syria dated to 1,700 BC. These dates were confirmed just in 2004 after lab tests at UCLA. Before modern agricultural techniques, the clove flower grew only in selected locations of insular Southeast Asia mostly in the eastern Malay Archipelago.

After much study, I believe there were two main spice routes out of Southeast Asia, each controlled by one of the clan confederacies until medieval times. The cinnamon route was controlled by the fallen angels camp, while the traditionalists controlled the clove route.

The Spice Routes

The clove route started in the Moluccas and southern Philippines, the source of cloves, and continued northward to the mainland and then along the coast of Asia to marsh ports in present-day Iraq. The cinnamon route started in Indochina and southern China, one of the main sources of cinnamon and cassia, and went southward into Indonesia, and then across the Indian Ocean to the port of Punt in present-day Tanzania.

As long as they were not at war (of the non-spiritual or non-commercial type) both confederacies could use the other's routes after paying the appropriate tariffs.

Because spices were consumed and perishable, the hard evidence of tis trade has been hard to come by. In ancient Egypt dating from the New Kingdom to the Ptolemaic period, we find evidence of black pepper, orange, camphor and nutmeg. Aloeswood, the most precious aromatic that was and is more costly than gold, has not been found in ancient sites likely because it was rare and nearly always burnt as incense.

However, there is one more durable type of evidence that may be able to unlock the earliest dates and most intricate geographic details of the trade. Cowrie shells used as money endure very well in all types of climates. Although cowries have a wide natural distribution, the different sub-species are more limited in geographic origin. A study of specific sub-species of cowries found at ancient sites can offer valuable clues in reconstructing early long-range trade.

For example if a certain type of cowrie shows up at sites from a specific period at two locations, but not at intervening sites from the same period, it may be seen as a clue pointing toward direct trade between the two locations.

The great opening of the spice trade to the west coincides with the expansion of the southern Nusantao culture known as Lapita. Sailing technologies were improving allowing for easier long distance journeys. It was this advance that allowed the fallen angel camp to open a major transoceanic trade route. Previously the northern, more coastal route, had been dominated by the dragon and bird clan.

Relief of ocean-going outrigger ship from Borobodur, Java

The increased competition helped bring about a period of increasing wealth and social divergence. The first signs of strong class resentment begin to appear in the literature. The empires of luxury were rather distasteful to some of the regional peoples especially those of pastoral background. The great wars of conquest were about to begin. The signature of these wars is the heap of one destroyed city directly upon the heap of another. Today, these heaps appear in the region as hills, some of them quite high in elevation, testifying to the level of human destruction.

Paul Kekai Manansala