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if the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, is not growing or shrinking we can presume that events on Earth must be relatively reliable.
"how long would it take to eliminate all traces of human activity"?The Earth will have anomalously high levels of plutonum and such like for a while.If some disease suddenly wiped us out, nature would erase us prety well - the pyramids and stonehenge sugest that we would still leave a mark in 5 or 10 thousand years. Other things might last a bit longer.The lack of fossil fuels might survive as evidece for a long time and the radioisotopes from nuclear reactors would take a long time to decay back to the levels that were present before nulear reactors and bombs were made. With really good analysis you could probably still spot us after a million years.
"When the people became hungry, (and they became malnourished born out by the bone deformities and evidence of poor diet) They could no longer build these follies and abandoned the impoverished soils"So they carried on doing it for a thousand years."My guess is that there are many more ancient cities buried beneath the shifting sands of the Sahara and dried up river beds viewed from satellite "Have a look.http://pack.google.com/intl/en/integrated_eula.html?hl=en&ciint=ci_earth&ci_earth=onciint=ci_earth&utm_source=en-cdr-earth4&utm_medium=cdr&utm_campaign=en"You may be right and these were built simply as a monumental defiance against nature. "We won't know, but the fact that they sought to preserve their dead and the persistent belief that they were seeking imortallity makes it look like they were trying to defeat nature (and several thousand yers on they have a degree of success.)