Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New discoveries at Stonehenge

Recently, researchers have announced that they have discovered the evidence of two large ancient pits within the perimeter of the Cursus directly north of Stonehenge. The pits were discovered using non-invasive technologies such as ground-penetrating radar and measure about 16 feet across (they have apparently been filled in for centuries or even millennia and cannot really be noticed with the naked eye).

Here is an article describing the location of the newly-discovered pits from MSNBC's "Cosmic Log." Here's another one from Discovery News describing the pits as well.

Both articles mention the fact that, for an observer at the Heel Stone (an important and distinctive stone located in the Avenue at Stonehenge), the pits would mark the sunrise and sunset points on the summer solstice. This third article on the pits, from the Huffington Post, contains a statement from the researchers that Stonehenge itself is "precisely due south" of the mid-point of a precession route they theorize took place on the Cursus.

These facts provide further confirmation that the overall site was precisely aligned to facilitate celestial observation. All articles also mention speculation that the Cursus (a long feature of two parallel mounds stretching for 1.5 miles east to west and joined in a narrow ring, named because early scholars mistakenly believed such mounds were the remains of ancient Roman running tracks) was used for processions of celebrants on the summer solstice day, although not much evidence is provided to support that hypothesis.

Based on previous dating of material found below the Cursus and below some of the embankments at Stonehenge itself, scholars believe the Cursus predates the construction of Stonehenge proper by at least five centuries.

All of the analysis accompanying the newly-announced discovery of these pits is interesting, but more interesting to me are the following points which the new discovery appears to support:
  • First and most obvious, the fact that these ancient pits can be calculated to align with the summer solstice sunrise and sunset to an observer at the Heel Stone raises the following question: have the British Isles somehow been immune to continental drift over the past fifty-odd centuries, or is the entire theory of plate tectonics incorrect? Readers of this blog will know that there is substantial evidence worldwide that the conventional theory of tectonics is incorrect (see here and here for starters).
  • While conventional history argues that Stonehenge and other contemporary structures were built by neolithic or mesolithic peoples who were primarily hunters and gatherers, the size of the stones, the scope of the construction, and the sophistication of the astronomical and mathematical concepts preserved at these sites makes such assertions ridiculous. Some researchers claim to have found evidence that the very faint magnetic fields of the stones at Avebury are aligned in a deliberate fashion (they can't measure the fields on the Stonehenge stones, because these stones have now been secured with steel rods to keep them from falling over or being deliberately tipped). Martin Doutré's 1999 book, Ancient Celtic New Zealand presents compelling evidence that the circles of Stonehenge are related in size by a factor of phi -- a sophisticated mathematical concept. It is unlikely that mesolithic hunter-gatherers had the time or inclination to master such concepts as phi and the detection of faint magnetic polarities within stones, nor are such features likely to be coincidental -- they are clearly deliberate.
  • As Mr. Doutré has also argued (backed up by extensive evidence and thorough analysis on his part), Stonehenge appears to contain a direct scale model in two dimensions of the Great Pyramid of Giza, with the apex designated by one of the post-holes in the Avenue adjacent to the Heel Stone itself (see here). If this analysis is correct, then there is a strong possibility that the Great Pyramid actually predates Stonehenge, meaning that it was not really built during the reign of Khufu as conventional historians insist. Even more significant, perhaps, is the fact that the Great Pyramid appears to represent a scale model of the northern hemisphere, designed and built by people who knew the earth was a globe (its base perimeter is proportionally related to the circumference of the earth at the equator by a factor of 1:43,200 -- a suspiciously important precessional number and not likely to be a coincidence). If Stonehenge relates to the Great Pyramid, and the Great Pyramid relates to the spherical earth, then the builders of Stonehenge are very unlikely to have been primitive mesolithic hunter-gatherers.
The detection of these new pits adds further confirmation that the designers of Stonehenge were dedicated astronomers, and probably had a very sophisticated understanding of the globe and its motions.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The synodic cycle of Venus, and why it is currently the evening star

The planet Venus is currently in position on its orbit to function as the beautiful evening star. No doubt you have noticed it in the sky at sunset, along with the waxing crescent moon. The moon is currently further and further behind the sun each evening, ever since the sun "overtook" the moon to cause a new moon on the 25th of this month (see explanation of the mechanics of this process here). Above is a picture of the first sliver of the moon after the new moon, following the sun towards the sunset on the 26th.

Venus spends part of its time as the evening star and part as the morning star. Because the orbit of Venus is interior to the orbit of the earth (closer to the sun than the orbit of the earth), Venus is always seen relatively near to the sun, either in the morning or the evening (the same holds true for Mercury). It will never be seen traversing the entire sky during the middle of the night the way the planets whose orbits are exterior to the orbit of the earth can be seen to do (Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in particular, with the naked eye).

The mechanics of this process are well explained in this webpage by astronomer John P. Pratt. That page contains a helpful diagram of the orbits of the earth and Venus which can assist in understanding these mechanics, and which is reproduced in simplified form below.

In this diagram, the sun is obviously in the center, and the orbits of the earth (outermost) and Venus inner ring) are shown around the sun. The earth is indicated as a blue disc on the outer ring, and various positions of Venus are shown as numbered grey circles on the inner ring.

This diagram shows the "synodic" cycle of Venus. A "synod" is a gathering or meeting, and the term "synodic" denotes the period of time that it takes for a heavenly body to reappear at the same point relative to another heavenly body -- in this case, the synodic cycle of Venus relative to the sun as seen from earth. The synodic period of Venus is 584 days, as explained very clearly and helpfully on the webpage linked above.

The points of the synodic cycle marked on the diagram above are as follows:
  • 1. Venus appears after being invisible due to passing behind the sun, from the perspective of the earth. Venus is invisible for about fifty days between point 6 and point 1. At point 1 and until it reaches point 3, Venus will be "east of the sun" and therefore will be trailing the sun, and thus it will be the evening star. You can easily verify that Venus is the evening star in the positions from point 1 to point 3 by looking at the blue disc of the earth and thinking of it turning on its axis, which you are looking down on from a point over the north pole (thus the disc is turning counter-clockwise). As a point on the edge of the disc turns around towards the sun, it is daytime to an observer at that point, and as the disc keeps turning counter-clockwise, the sun will eventually disappear from view to that observer, and Venus will still be visible to that observer.
  • 2. Venus reaches its point of "maximum eastern elongation" -- the greatest angle of separation from the sun on this side of its orbit, as viewed from the earth (it will reach the same maximum angle again on the other side of its orbit, at point 5). This maximum angle of separation from the sun (or "elongation") is about 47o for Venus.
  • 3. Venus begins to be "swallowed up" by the sun and hence invisible. This is somewhat analogous to the new moon, except that the moon goes from being ahead of the sun to trailing the sun at the new moon, and Venus goes from being an evening star that trails the sun to being a morning star that leads the sun during this time. Venus will be invisible for approximately eight days between point 3 and point 4.
  • 4. Venus emerges onto the western side of the sun, and will now be the morning star (it may be somewhat confusing to learn that Venus is termed "west" of the sun when it is a morning star, since morning stars are seen in the east, but the way to reconcile this terminology is to think about the fact that when Venus is the morning star, it will be closer to the western horizon than the sun at daybreak: it will be ahead of the sun when the sun comes up in the morning over the eastern horizon -- Venus will already be a bit ahead of the sun and on its way towards the west). Venus will be the morning star from point 4 through point 6.
  • 5. Venus reaches its point of maximum western elongation, which is analogous to the situation described in point 2 above.
  • 6. Venus disappears behind the sun for another fifty-day period, enroute to starting the synodic cycle over again.
There are various tables on the internet which show the dates at which Venus passes through various points on its synodic cycle over the years. Here is one from Wikipedia. It shows that Venus passed its point of maximum western elongation (point 5 in our discussion) on January 8 of this year 2011, and that it will get all the way around to its point of maximum eastern elongation (point 2 in our discussion) on March 27 of 2012.

The terms "superior conjunction" and "inferior conjunction" are used in reference to the two planets with orbits interior to earth, Venus and Mercury, to designate the points at which they pass the sun on the far side (superior) and near side (inferior) from the point of view of an observer on earth. Thus, superior conjunction is the point midway between point 6 and point 1 of our discussion and diagram, and inferior conjunction is the point midway between point 3 and point 4 of our discussion and diagram. As can be seen from the table linked above from Wikipedia, Venus passed the point of superior conjunction on August 16 of this year 2011, and thus we are seeing Venus currently between points 1 and 2, and closer to 1 than 2 right now.

Here is a link to another table which shows similar data for Venus going out to the year 2050 and back to the year 1900. To find 2011 and 2012, you can move up to page 10 in that online document.

There is a lot more celestial mechanics related to the motions of Venus, including the fascinating pentagram-shaped circuit of Venus over five such synodic cycles, which equates to very close to eight earth years, and the pattern of Venus transits across the sun (which do not occur every time there is an inferior conjunction, due to the slight difference in orbital plane between earth and Venus, just as the difference in orbital plane between the earth and the moon mean that we do not get lunar eclipses and solar eclipses every month at the full moon and new moon). Many more amazing aspects of the celestial mechanics of Venus can be seen with excellent diagrams and illustrations at this website by Nick Anthony Fiorenza.

Be sure to look to the west each evening this week and in the coming months for the beautiful planet Venus as the evening star.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tutankhamun's DNA

In the previous post, we pointed out that the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun was significant for many reasons, especially for the largely intact nature of the tomb. Although it had apparently been robbed twice in antiquity (probably within a few months of Tutankhamun's burial), the tomb's entrance was later covered by huts built to house the workers building the tomb of Rameses VI almost two centuries later and forgotten.

The ancient robbers were apparently unable to penetrate the nested oak shrines housing the sarcophagi of the king, or else did not have time or the inclination to do so, and thus Tutankhamun remains the only pharaoh whose mummy was found in modern times where it was originally laid to rest by the ancients.

As a consequence, his tomb provides a remarkable window into ancient Egypt. Some of the clues that are preserved in Tut's tomb may turn out to be extremely important to arguments that mankind's ancient past differs from what is taught today in conventional history books.

For example, the magnificent golden funerary mask that was found over the head of the mummy itself -- by far the most famous artifact from the tomb of Tutankhamun, and one that might not have survived had the tomb not been lost to history for over 3,000 years -- appears to contain symbolism linking it to the mokos or facial tattoos of the Maori of New Zealand, according to the analysis of Martin Doutré (discussed in this previous post).

If Mr.
Doutré's analysis is correct -- and I believe it is very convincing -- then there must have been some ancient contact across the oceans at dates far earlier than conventional history allows. It could be that the Egyptians themselves traversed the oceans (there is other evidence that may support this theory, such as possible Egyptian religious elements in the Maori haka, discussed in this post, as well as other epigraphical evidence that has been found in places such as North America), or that other cultures did so and then traded with the Egyptians (such as the Phoenicians, famous in antiquity for their maritime abilities, or the Anatolians and the Libyans, who also may have been accomplished seafarers), or that cultures directly descended from or heavily influenced by the Egyptians did so.

Recently, new evidence from Tutankhamun's tomb has emerged which -- if true -- could shed some more light on this fascinating topic (and further undermine the conventional history books). Genetic testing has been done on the mummy of Tutankhamun in order to gain greater clarity on his patrimony. Egyptologists have long suspected that Tutankhamun may have been the son of the famous pharaoh Akhenaten, who established the worship of the Aten instead of the traditional worship of Amon-Ra and the other deities during his reign (Tutankhamun appears to have been called Tutankhaten before changing his name -- some artifacts in the tomb bear evidence of the change, and others appear to have been missed altogether and still read Tutankhaten).

Now, through genetic testing, scientists can examine Y-chromosomal evidence that provides confirmation of shared paternal lineage. As this series of videos from the Discovery channel indicate, the tests establish a clear match between Tutankhamun, Akhenaten, and Amenhotep III. It is well-established that Amenhotep III was Akhenaten's father (Akhenaten's name was Amenhotep IV before he changed it). The new tests appear to confirm that Tutankhamun was either Akhenaten's son or his younger brother (Amenhotep can either be Tutankhamun's father or grandfather).

Following on this Discovery series, Swiss genetic research company iGENEA recently announced that they had determined the haplotype of Tutankhamun's Y-chromosome DNA and that "
Tutankhamun belongs to the haplogroup R1b1a2, which more than 50% of all men in Western Europe belong to." Here is a related story from Reuters about the announcement.

There have been some significant arguments against iGENEA's conclusion, including the allegation that iGENEA has made sensational announcements before, possibly in order to increase sales of their genetic tests (as you can see from the link above, the Tutankhamun announcement came with a request that men have their DNA tested by iGENEA and if they match the DNA of the mummy, they will get a refund of the testing costs, which run from129 to399).

Other critics have been quick to throw down the race card, stating that the only people interested in Tutankhamun's haplotype are probably either "Nordicists" or "Afrocentrists." While it is of course true that there are those who try to elevate their "race" over others (race being a Darwinian fiction to begin with, as we have discussed previously), and while it is true that white racists and black racists may both be found trying to claim the accomplishments of ancient Egypt as proof of some form of racial superiority or identity, it does not follow that any DNA match between Tutankhamun's haplotype and that of western Europeans is the product of racist bias or propaganda.

A more basic criticism of iGENEA's claim is that they didn't have access to the DNA at all before they made their analysis. Although the DNA test which matched Tutankhamun to Akhenaten and Amenhotep III was done with the actual tissue of the mummy, iGENEA admits that they reconstructed the haplotype by watching the Discovery channel episode, where a computer screen shows the data that they needed to do their analysis -- the DNA itself has "been locked away" and is not available to other researchers.

One of the geneticists who was part of the team that did the original work on the DNA, Carsten Pusch, has denounced iGENEA's conclusion, as seen in this article from Live Science. That article admits that "
Pusch and his colleagues published part of their results, though not the Y-chromosome DNA, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2010."

The unanswered question not raised in that article (nor the others denouncing iGENEA) is the question of why the full Y-chromosome DNA results were not published and are apparently being kept secret? If iGENEA is wrong about what they deduce from the computer screen shown in the Discovery channel documentary, then what has anyone got to hide? Why not get the results out in the open?

Whether or not Tutankhamun's DNA actually shows commonality with the haplotype in question is not really conclusive one way or the other. If iGENEA's claims are correct, then this commonality of haplotype in one ancient Egyptian family of pharaohs is only one piece of evidence, and a solid case needs more evidence than a single clue. However, it may turn out to be an important clue.

Furthermore, there is other evidence in addition to this rather recent development which points to a very different timeline of ancient history -- and a complete reassessment of the scientific capabilities of the ancients -- as many other "alternative" authors and historians have alleged, as we have discussed numerous times in previous posts, and as discussed in greater depth in the Mathisen Corollary book.

It may be that Tutankhamun's family tree -- already quite interesting -- is more extensive than anyone suspected.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Yes, wonderful things . . ."

November 25 is the date upon which, in 1922, the first breathless look into the Antechamber of the Tomb of Tutankhamun revealed treasures which had lain beneath the sand in the Valley of the Kings for 3,245 years.

British archaeologist Howard Carter (1874 - 1939), under the financial support of the Earl of Carnavon, George Herbert (1866 - 1923), had cleared the twenty-six foot passageway whose entrance had been discovered on November 5 and arrived at a sealed door.

They had no idea what they would find on the other side.

Carter relates the events that followed in his own words in his book, The Tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amen, Discovered by the Late Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter (1933):
With trembling hands I made a tiny breach in the upper left-hand corner. Darkness and blank space, as far as an iron testing-rod could reach, showed that whatever lay beyond was empty, and not filled like the passage we had just cleared. Candle tests were applied as a precaution against possible foul gases, and then, widening the hold a little, I inserted the candle and peered in, Lord Carnarvon, Lady Evelyn and Callender standing anxiously beside me to hear the verdict. At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold - everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment - an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by - I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, "Can you see anything?" it was all I could do to get out the words, "Yes, wonderful things."
With that statement, the excitement over the discovery of this first intact tomb of an ancient pharaoh began to spread around the world. I have already related in a previous post the effect the artifacts from Tutankhamun's tomb had on me when they toured the world between 1972 and 1979.

The importance of this world-shaking discovery cannot be overstated. Not only did it spark intense interest in ancient Egypt that began almost immediately after the first press conference on November 30, 1922, but it revealed a wealth of information about Egyptian burial practices and beliefs from the period (Tutankhamun reigned in the 18th dynasty, and died in 1323 BC).

Carter carefully recorded the position of the wealth of artifacts in the tomb before removing and preserving them. Some of his photographs can be seen in his multi-volume description of the discovery and excavation of the tomb. In February of 1923, he and his team had cleared the Antechamber enough to reach the wall of the Burial Chamber and look inside. This wall was dismantled in order to enable them to begin removing the nested burial shrines which nearly filled the room and which contained the nested sarcophagi that held the king's mummy with its magnificent golden mask.

Today, the mummy has been returned to the burial chamber and rests (in a climate-controlled environment) in the same room where it slept for over 3,000 years.

On one page of his work describing the effect of his monumental discovery, Carter writes: "Thus we learn not to overvalue the present, and our modern perspective becomes less complacent and more philosophical" (20).

Happy Thanksgiving -- please pass the kumara!

Thanksgiving in the United States is a beloved and special holiday, on which we pause each year and gather with family and loved ones to consider all the many blessings we should be thankful for in our lives.

The traditional Thanksgiving feast contains elements stretching back to the first Thanksgiving in 1621, in which the Plymouth Bay colonists gave thanks for their first successful harvest, and were joined by Massasoit and members of the Wampanoag people who had taught them how to cultivate beans, squash and corn and who brought two deer and other food for the occasion.

One Thanksgiving staple that is part of nearly everyone's annual feast will be a dish made from the sweet potato, a traditional American cultivar unknown in the Old World prior to contact with the Americas which was known to the native peoples and an important dietary staple.

The sweet potato is also an intriguing clue in the question of whether Polynesia was originally settled from the east (the Americas) or from the west (through Melanesia or Micronesia), and may argue against an eastward expansion into Polynesia and for a westward expansion from the Americas, as Thor Heyerdahl has argued, and which is a theory for which there appears to be abundant evidence, in spite of the disdain with which this suggestion is regarded among conventional scholars today who flatly state that the question has been settled in favor of an eastward expansion from Asia.

In a 1946 essay entitled "How did the Sweet Potato reach Oceania?" anthropologist James Hornell explains the dilemma: "Botanists are agreed that America is the area within which the sweet potato was first brought under cultivation. One consequence arising from this conclusion is that the problem of the means whereby it became diffused throughout the island world of Oceania has given rise to great controversy" (cited in Heyerdahl's American Indians in the Pacific, 428).

Because the Polynesians widely cultivate the sweet potato from Easter Island to Hawaii to New Zealand and all places in between, and because it could not have come from Asia originally, ethnologists have long debated how the sweet potato became such an important part of the Polynesian diet and culture.

At first, many analysts who refused to consider the possibility that Polynesia was settled from the east (from the Americas) speculated that the first European vessels (primarily Spanish) must have brought the sweet potato across the thousands of miles of the Pacific from South America to the islands of Oceania.

The problems with this theory are quite stark. Chief among them is the extensive historical evidence, documented by R. B. Dixon in 1932, that the most remote and long-isolated Polynesian islands had extensive and ancient sweet potato plantations when they were first discovered by European voyagers (in "The Problem of the Sweet Potato in Polynesia," cited in Heyerdahl 430). He also points out that when Jacob Rogoveen became the first modern European to land on Easter Island / Rapa Nui in 1722, he and his men described "the sweet potato as abundant, grown in large plantations, and one of the mainstays of the native food" (ibid). Further, traditional history in both Hawaii and New Zealand point to cultivation in those islands by AD 1250 in Hawaii and AD 1350 in New Zealand, at the latest (Heyerdahl 431).

Another possibility that has been mentioned is the idea that a sweet potato somehow floated on its own from South America across the thousands of miles of ocean to the islands of the Pacific, and then was planted and spread to the rest of Polynesia. This speculative theory is difficult to maintain in light of the fact that the sweet potato propagates from its tubers as opposed to seeds that can be born safely along the ocean currents -- a sweet potato would not survive well on the open sea, especially because of the salt content of the ocean. Further, since the tubers grow underground, they are unlikely to simply fall into the sea like a regular seed might. Because new plants can really only be started from a tuber or a clipping, it is far more likely that sweet potatoes were deliberately carried across the oceans on ships and planted.

Nevertheless, Thor Heyerdahl records the suggestion put forward by some botanists that perhaps "a Peruvian sweet-potato might have been caught in the roots between a falling tree near the Pacific shore, and drifted with the tree" until washing up on a Pacific island thousands of miles away, to be planted in the ground by amazed islanders who had never seen one before but knew to bury it in order to get more.

Heyerdahl, however, points to a problem which puts to rest this wildly speculative, and that is the fact that "the sweet-potato was known as Cumar (Kumar) in the Quechua-dialect of Ecuador, whereas it was known in Polynesia as Kumara, with sundry dialectical variations" (429). Even if a tree managed to fall into the ocean with a sweet potato serendipitously lodged in its roots, this could not explain the fact that when it arrived in Hawaii or other points east, the inhabitants "recognized it by its original South American name" (Heyerdahl 429).

The sweet potato is known as the Cumara, Umar', Kumal, Umala, and Kuala in the Quechua language of the Andes and in variations found in other parts of South and Central America. The fact that the sweet potato is known to this day as the kumara in New Zealand (as well as in Easter Island, the Tuamotus, and Mangareva), and by variations such as Kuma'a in the Marquesas, Umara in Tahiti, Uala in Hawaii, Uara in Mangaia, Kuara in Rarotonga, Kumala in Tonga and Futuna, and 'Umala in Samoa argues strongly for actual ancient contact between the seafarers of Polynesia and the Inca and other people of South America (Heyerdahl 430).

Many today accept that the Polynesians could have journeyed to the Americas and brought the sweet potato back with them, while still originating in Asia. This theory is certainly a possibility, as it is no exaggeration to award the peoples of the Pacific with the title of "the greatest navigators our globe has ever seen."

However, Heyerdahl puts forward some powerful arguments for the alternate possibility, which is that the sweet potato was brought out of the Americas by the original settlers of the islands of the Pacific, who came from the east and sailed to the west (a possibility that in no way diminishes the argument that these seafarers became the greatest navigators our globe has ever seen, although some today seem to believe that a westward migration somehow robs the Polynesians of their seafaring accomplishments for some reason, and who call Heyerdahl's proposition "the ultimate insult" -- see the discussion in this previous post).

For one thing, Heyerdahl points out that the sweet potato's importance and cultivation was greatest in the most remote of the islands of Polynesia -- those on the very "points of the triangle" that define the vast region of the Polynesian culture: Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand (431). Some scholars have concluded from this fact that this is just the sort of distribution that would be most likely if the kumara "had been brought during the initial period of voyaging" that brought the first settlers to the islands (431).

He also points out that there are no Polynesian traditions relating a voyage to the Americas in which the new foodplant was discovered and brought back to Polynesia. In fact, he points out that "there are a vast quantity of traditions to the contrary" (traditions which state that the important food crop came from the ancient ancestral lands -- Heyerdahl 432). Heyerdahl also points out analysis from early records that relate the are over sixty varieties of sweet potato in Hawaii (arguing that it has been grown there for long centuries) and Captain Cook's records of ancient plantations and "vestiges of former plantations on the hills" (citing an account from 1778).

In short, the sweet potato (or kumara) is an important piece of evidence in the examination of the origins of the people of the Pacific islands. Alongside other evidence (such as the items discussed in this previous post), it appears to enhance the possibility that the islands of the Pacific were settled from the Americas and towards the west, rather than from Asia and then towards the east. This possibility may help clear up some of the evidence suggesting a distant connection to some aspects of ancient Egypt in the culture of Polynesia (see for instance this previous post, this previous post, and this previous post).

So, while you are enjoying your sweet potato casserole this year at Thanksgiving, give some thought to the significance of this far-ranging tuber.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Mathisen Corollary readers around the world!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Orion and the Winter Circle of mythologically important stars

The earth continues to race around its orbit track and as it does so, it is bringing into view the magnificent winter constellation of Orion dominating the eastern sky after dark and rising further into the sky with each passing hour (also, getting a bit further along each passing night, as explained here). H.A. Rey tells us in The Stars: A New Way to See Them: "No other constellation has so many bright stars, five of 2nd mag. and two of 1st mag.: reddish BETELGEUSE in the left shoulder and bluish-white RIGEL in the right foot" (page 46).

Now is an excellent time of the month to view Orion and the several impressive stars which encircle him belonging to other constellations, because the moon is out of the way for the next several days, on its way to a new moon on November 25th. Even after the new moon, it will still remain out of the pre-midnight skies for a few days.

The several bright and important stars which can be easily identified in an arc around Orion are sometimes referred to as the "winter circle" of stars. They are well worth identifying, and they are truly situated in a graceful arc, so that an observer starting at the top of the arc with Capella can easily envision a curving circular path leading to the next bright stars, then the next, and then the next (see the diagram below).

To begin, simply find Orion -- he will be enormous in the east, far larger than you might imagine from the diagram above, which shows the night sky looking east at about 11 pm for an observer in the northern hemisphere (in this case, at a latitude of 35o north along the California coast). The diagram comes from the very helpful free Interactive Sky Chart tool from Sky & Telescope.

Above and to the left of Orion you can locate Perseus and Cassiopeia -- tips for identifying them are described in this previous post. Below Perseus you will find Auriga the Charioteer. His constellation is best distinguished when you can identify the two long horns of the Bull, one of which comes so close to Auriga that it is easy to mistake it for part of Auriga until you become familiar with the two constellations. Then, it becomes a helpful way of picking out the distinctive jutting "jaw" of Auriga (in the outline method created by H.A. Rey -- see the discussion on finding Auriga in this previous post). The final diagram at the bottom of this post labels the constellations discussed herein, with a rough outline of each one.

Auriga contains two bright stars that begin the arc -- first, its brightest star, Capella, and below it another bright star in Auriga, Menkalinan or Beta Aurigae. These two are so bright that it would be easy to mistake Auriga for the constellation Gemini (the Twins) if you didn't know better.

Continuing toward the horizon, however, you will come across the actual constellation Gemini the Twins, and its two brightest stars, Castor and Pollux (Pollux is brighter). They are not as bright as Capella, and they are closer together than Capella and Menkalinan.

These two pairs (Capella-Menkalinan and Castor-Pollux) will enable you to visualize the arc of a large circle connecting them -- continue along this circle and you will curve over to another very bright star, the 8th-brightest in the entire sky, Procyon. It ranks just below Rigel in Orion and Capella in Auriga for brightness (Rigel is the seventh-brightest and Capella the sixth-brightest stars in the heavens).

Continuing along the same sweeping arc will bring you to the brightest star in the sky, Sirius (following Orion through the heavens). Some skywatchers continue past this point, but the arc does not hold up if you do, as the pathway becomes somewhat forced and irregular after this point (it is sometimes called the "winter hexagon" by those who continue on to Rigel and Aldebaran before returning to Capella, but this is a very unsatisfying hexagon and it is best to stop at Sirius).

They are also very important in the study of the ancient myths found around the world, and the evidence for advanced scientific knowledge which the ancients encoded in their mythologies.

For a discussion of the importance of Capella and Auriga, see this previous post.

For a discussion of the importance of Gemini, see the examination of the story of Ymir in this previous post, as well as a discussion of the Twins themselves in this previous post.

For a discussion of the importance of Procyon, see this previous post.

Sirius is perhaps the most important individual star in the sky for numerous reasons. Sirius is associated with Isis, the consort of Osiris (who is associated with the constellation Orion). The importance of Isis is discussed in this previous post and this previous post, as well as in more depth in the Mathisen Corollary book itself.

Sirius is also important to the discussion of the possible preservation of advanced ancient astronomical knowledge among the Dogon, and to the discussion of the possibility that our own sun is actually a binary star.

And of course, Orion is absolutely critically important, especially as he pertains to the myth of Osiris and Set (also taken up in much greater detail in the Mathisen Corollary book).

For all these reasons, and because it is just an awesome sight, it is an extremely rewarding experience to go out to a dark location with a good view to the east around 10 pm or even 11 pm and observe the beautiful arc of the "winter circle" of stars that surround mighty Orion.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A connection between ancient Egypt and Buddhist monasticism?

Plutarch, the well-known first century Roman historian, essayist, Platonist, and priest of Apollo at Delphi, wrote an extremely important description of the ancient Egyptian myths surrounding Isis and Osiris in his Moralia (a collection of various essays written throughout his life).

At the beginning of that section (which can be read online in a 1936 translation here), Plutarch takes up the question of why the Egyptian priests of the goddess Isis shave their bodies and wear only linen garments (as opposed to garments of wool, for example).

His explanation is quite illuminating:
It is true that most people are unaware of this very ordinary and minor matter: the reason why the priests remove their hair and wear linen garments. Some persons do not care at all to have any knowledge about such things, while others say that the priests, because they revere the sheep, abstain from using its wool, as well as its flesh; and that they shave their heads as a sign of mourning, and that they wear their linen garments because of the colour which the flax displays when in bloom, and which is like to the heavenly azure which enfolds the universe. But for all this there is only one true reason, which is to be found in the words of Plato: "for the Impure to touch the Pure is contrary to divine ordinance." No surplus left over from food and no excrementitious matter is pure and clean; and it is from forms of surplus that wool, fur, hair, and nails originate and grow. So it would be ridiculous that these persons in their holy living should remove their own hair by shaving and making their bodies smooth all over, and then should put on and wear the hair of domestic animals.
This is interesting in its own right, but also because Buddhist monks to this day shave their heads, and in some cases their eyebrows also. Is it possible that there is some connection, either by virtue of the spread of ancient Egyptian knowledge to ancient China, or (even more likely) the existence of a common ancestral civilization which imparted its knowledge to both ancient China and ancient Egypt?

On the surface, this possibility might seem rather remote. After all, it is certainly possible that the hair-removing habits of Buddhist monks in many parts of Asia (including Tibet) and those of the ancient devotees of Isis arose independently of one another and in complete cultural isolation. However, there are some clues which make this apparently far-fetched idea more plausible.

First, there is a passage from Plutarch just previous to the passage cited above, in which Plutarch cites what were apparently ancient phrases for the devotees of Isis: "bearers of the sacred vessels" and "wearers of the sacred robes." These are the only two titles cited, and interestingly enough they reference two distinguishing marks of many ascetic Buddhist orders that exist to this day.

In fact, robes and an offering bowl are among the only things many Buddhist monks may own. There is a quotation attributed to Buddha which states, "Just as a bird takes its wings with it wherever it flies, so the monk takes his robes and bowl with him wherever he goes." The fact that these two items are so prominently associated with Buddhist monks and that they are the two titles mentioned by Plutarch to refer to the devotees of Isis appears to be significant (especially when we learn that the robes of many Buddhist monks are often of linen -- see this internet reference among others available).

Below is a surviving Roman statue of a priestess of Isis with shorn head, robes, and a bronze jug or situla.

But this detail, while quite significant, is not the only evidence suggesting some ancient cultural connection between the ancient Egyptians and ancient China (and probably ancient India as well). The monastic orders of China are also well-known for the development of internal qualities in conjunction with physical activity -- most notably, the martial arts, but really with many other activities in which meditation or contemplation is accompanied by or conjoined to distinctive physical movement.

This combination is attributed in legend to the famous master Bodhidharma, who came to the Shaolin Temple in China from India in the sixth century AD and found that the monks could not meditate for protracted periods of time without falling asleep, and famously instituted a series of movements and poses to strengthen their endurance and their meditative powers. However, as John Anthony West has shown in his indispensable 1979 text Serpent in the Sky, there appears to be at least the possibility of a much more ancient Egyptian connection here as well.

On page 93 of that book, Mr. West includes a picture of an ancient Egyptian wall frieze from before 2150 BC showing men in various one-legged stances and poses. He says in his discussion, "These Old Kingdom ritual dance movements are curiously similar to those practiced today in certain groups devoted to 'inner development.'" The reader can visit the link at the beginning of this paragraph and scroll down to see the image. This does not mean that the ancient Egyptians developed actual "martial arts" as we think of them today (although it is certainly possible) but rather that they may have practiced some form of meditation with motion, which may have either influenced the development in China or (more likely perhaps) come from the same common ancient advanced civilization that imparted this knowledge to both Egypt and China.

Another clue, and one we have seen before on a world-wide scale, is the significant similarities in the metaphors selected for the celestial machinery of the heavens in both civilizations. Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend spend much time in their master work Hamlet's Mill examining world-wide evidence that an advanced and unknown ancient civilization -- anterior to ancient Egypt -- bequeathed sophisticated astronomical understanding to later millennia in the form of myths which employ very similar imagery from one culture to another (even cultures which supposedly had no contact with one another).

There are clearly similarities in imagery which suggest cultural diffusion of some sort operating between ancient Egypt and ancient China. For example, the illustration below indicates that both cultures used bow-and-arrow symbology to refer to certain aspects of one part of the celestial realm, and de Santillana and von Dechend discuss others in their text.

Finally, there is the very telling evidence of the precessional numbers discussed by many authors (including the authors of Hamlet's Mill) and relating to a very subtle astronomical phenomenon which conventional historians don't believe was understood by anyone until long after the mightiest era of ancient Egyptian civilization. We have seen previously that the monastic orders of China appear to have preserved these important astronomical numbers, including the number 108, which features prominently in many martial arts including Tai Chi and in the legendary trials established for monks in the Shaolin Temple as well. This evidence from the martial arts is discussed in more detail in the Mathisen Corollary book itself.

That the ancient Egyptians also preserved these same precessional numbers, including the important number 72 (clearly related to 108, which is 150% of 72) and 432 (which is four times 108). For evidence that the precessional number 432 is encoded in the Great Pyramid of Giza, see this previous post.

The fact that these prominent precessional numbers are also embedded in the martial arts so strongly associated with the monastic Buddhist tradition in China and other nearby lands suggests that the connection proposed at the beginning of this essay is not a mere fanciful speculation. It is a subject which deserves much more investigation.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Kensington Runestone is back in the news

The long-debated Kensington Runestone is back in the news, with this recent post from the excellent blog of Swedish archaeologist Dr. Martin Rundkvist entitled "Kensington Runestone Faker's Signature Found." Dr. Rundkvist's blog Aardvarchaeology has been mentioned previously in the Mathisen Corollary blog in this previous post discussing the Winged Man of Uppaakra.

The Kensington Runestone is a 200-pound slab allegedly found in a field in rural Minnesota in 1898 by a Swedish immigrant named Olof Ohman. It contains a runic inscription on its face and one side which appear to commemorate a visit by a party of Scandinavian explorers in AD 1362, but which has been repeatedly dismissed by academics as a forgery, probably a hoax by Ohman and some of his associates.

The latest dismissal of the Kensington Runestone's authenticity, reported by Dr. Rundkvist, comes from the analysis done by Professor Mats G. Larsson, who points out that the amount of numbers mentioned in the runic inscription may be a key to a hidden message.

The translated inscription reads (in the 1950 translation of Sivert N. Hagen):
8 Gottlanders and 22 Norwegians on
[this] exploration-journey from
Vinland over the west. We
had camp beside 2 sheds, one
day's journey north from this stone.
We were [out] and fished one day; after
we came home, found 10 men red
with blood and tortured. Hail, Mary!
Deliver from evil!
Have 10 men by the sea to look
after our ships, 14-day journey
from this island. Year, 1362.
According to the analysis of Professor Larsson, if you take the numbers in the inscription above, which are (in order of appearance) 8, 22, 2, 10, 10, 14, and then 13 and 62 from the date 1362, you can find a simple ciphered message planted by Ohman himself, which would then clearly indicate that Ohman was the original author of the text and that it thus dates from the late 1800s and not from the fourteenth century at all (even if the stone itself was really dug up from under a tree as described by Ohman).

To find the message, Professor Larsson first reversed the order of the numbers as they appear (producing the series 62, 13, 14, 10, 10, 2, 22 and 8). He commenced at the first line and counted sixty-two words from the left, to find the word "öh." He then proceeded to the second line and counted thirteen words from the right, proceeding in this way to find an apparent hidden message. Dr. Lundkvist relates:

The inscription has twelve lines. Larsson counts the words from the left on odd-numbered lines and from the right on even-numbered lines, arriving at the following:

62: öh
13: mans (jumping up to the penultimate line when the end of the last line is reached)
14: fan
10: vi
10: ved
2: hade
22: ved (jumping down to the second line when the end of the first line is reached)
8: sten

Dr. Lundkvist explains that this message appears to correspond to the story Olof Ohmans gave about his initial discovery of the stone (that he found it under the roots of a tree he and his son had felled for firewood):

"Öh mans fan vi ved hade ved sten", or in English, "The Öhmans found. We kept/collected firewood at the stone."

So Olof Öhman probably told the truth when he said he found the stone while collecting firewood. And then he carved an inscription on it.

There appear to be a few problems with this method, one of which being the fairly arbitrary moves of reversing the number sequence in the first place, leaving out the two mentions of the number "one" (which, unlike the other numerals in the text, is "spelled out" which may indicate that it is not to be included in the cipher, although including them would obviously change the message), and then the somewhat arbitrary decision to count from the left on the first line and from the right on the second, and so on throughout to find a message.

A bigger problem than the rather arbitrary selections described above (which could be explained as part of the cipher, if Ohman did in fact decide to hide a message in a forged runic inscription) is the fact that the count does not really appear to work out very well. Starting from the very first number, 62, the count does not actually land on the word "öh" in the inscription, but rather on the preceding word, "þeno." A transliteration of the inscription can be found on the Wikipedia page for the Kensington Runestone, in the right-hand column, and the reader can count right there on the page and see. Start from the first word of the first line (which is actually the number 8) and count rightwards sixty-two words.

If the word at the beginning of the second line (which is apparently weathered or worn away, leaving only the letter "o" but which is surmised to have been the word "þeno" which is the dative singular feminine form of the demonstrative pronoun "this") is skipped, then the count of 62 would arrive at "öh," but there is no reason to skip that word even though only one letter remains, and doing so seems to compromise the theory being proposed by Professor Larsson.

From that word, however, counting 13 words to the left does indeed bring the reader to the word "mans" in the text (which is found in the third line from the bottom, not the "penultimate" line).

Proceeding to the third supposed hidden word in the message, a count of 14 from the word "mans" and going to the left does indeed land on the word "fan" (which is found in the seventh line of the text). However, this pattern is not "right-left-right" as described but actually right-left-left.

The count apparently continues to the left for the remainder of the "message." Continuing the count from "fan" to get to "wi" or "vi" one must continue counting to the left again, this time for ten words. The message appears to continue emerging until one reaches the count of 22, which is supposed to land on "ved" and contains the explanatory note "jumping down to the second line when the end of the first line is reached." However, going 22 words in either direction from the word "haþe" at the beginning of the fourth line does not bring one to the word "ved" or close to it (it appears to land on "skip" if one counts to the right and "fan" if one counts to the left).

Further, there is no word "ved" eight words away from the final word "sten" -- in either direction. The final number in the reversed series used by Professor Larsson is 8, but a count of 8 to the word "sten" in the text can only be launched from the number "2" in the fourth line of the inscription or from the word "wi" at the beginning of the eighth line of the inscription.

It is still, of course, possible that the Kensington Runestone is a hoax, but it does not seem that the supposed hidden cipher discovered by Professor Larsson is an open-and-shut case confirming the fact.

On the contrary, there still appear to be some fairly strong arguments for continuing to entertain the possibility that the Kensington Runestone may be an authentic inscription left by fourteenth-century Scandinavian visitors, as discussed in this excellent online document written by anthropological linguist Dr. John D. Bengtson.

That article contains the text of the inscription as well (where readers can count out the ciphers alleged by Professor Larsson) in both runes and modern Roman alphabetical letters, and it also contains some answers to arguments that have been put forth in the past hundred or so years alleging that the runic text contains errors and anachronisms that reveal it to be simply a clumsy forgery. In fact, many of the details that were once argued to be errors have over time turned out to be supported by other early runic texts that are not thought to be forgeries, and reveal a sophistication and level of understanding that is remarkable if the stone was a simple hoax by a Minnesota farmer and some friends, even if those friends were academics.

Dr. Bengtson also cites some historical details preserved among the Native Americans of the Dakota people and told to an anthropologist in 1935 by a 90-year-old Dakota woman, details which appear to support the possibility that Scandinavian explorers visited the Dakota lands centuries ago, staying over one winter before returning the way they had come, never to return.

As we have discussed previously in this blog and in the Mathisen Corollary book itself, individual data points -- whether the Kensington Runestone in Minnesota or the Ruamahanga skull in New Zealand -- do not matter so much by themselves. If the Kensington Runestone did turn out to be a hoax, or the Ruamahanga skull did turn out to have belonged to a misplaced medical skeleton (a ridiculous speculation, but a possibility that most conventional historians appear to accept, rather than admitting the possibility that voyagers could cross the great oceans long before the conventional timeline says they could or did), that is not as important as the fact that there is an enormous pile of other evidence which all appears to point to the fact that the conventional timeline of human history is inadequate.

While an artifact such as the Kensington Runestone might be relatively easy to forge (although the apparent sophistication of some of the runic details indicates that it is not a simple or clumsy forgery, even if it does turn out to be a forgery), other forms of evidence we have examined, such as the hundreds of red-haired and auburn-haired mummies that have been found in Peru, are not so easy to dismiss.

To those who declare that the Kensington Runestone cannot possibly be an authentic memorial of a European visit to Minnesota during the 1300s, we would offer a quotation which Thor Heyerdahl singled out about such matters, by Edgar Smith Craighill Handy (speaking in this case of the continent of origin of the Polynesians): "There is such a variety of possibilities open in the matter of relationships and derivations that my own feeling is that there is only one sure way of being in the wrong, and that is by asserting dogmatically what is not true" (cited in American Indians in the Pacific 8).

This would appear to be an excellent attitude to adopt in this matter. Professor Larsson's creative analysis is commendable, in that it is approaching the Kensington Runestone from a different direction, and trying to find some evidence that others have overlooked. It may be that I am misunderstanding the methodology he used when I find that the numbers he uses do not appear to land on the words of the alleged hidden message. But even if such a message can be teased out of the text, there is ample evidence elsewhere that there have been many other visitors to these shores than we are currently taught in our schools and universities.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The geology of Uluru and Kata Tjuta

One of the most distinctive and well-known geological features in Australia -- and in fact the world -- is the massive sandstone mound known as Ayers Rock, now more often referred to by its name in the Western Desert Language of the Anangu, Uluru. The formation rises to heights of over 1,100 feet, and its perimeter is more than five and half miles.

It is sacred to the aboriginal people of the land and they request that visitors do not climb it, remove rocks from it, or photograph certain portions of it.

Conventional geologists account for this impressive massif by describing waters flowing off of the granite mountains to the south and depositing eroded arkose sand in a mighty alluvial fan, which later tipped due to the upward-thrusting tectonic forces which they believe created most of the mountains and basins of central Australia, between roughly 450 million and 300 million years ago. A typical description of the alleged forces which shaped Uluru -- and the related formation about twenty miles away known as Kata Tjuta in the langauge of the Anangu, which is similarly sacred -- can be found at this website, along with an amazing aerial photo.

There are some problems with this conventional explanation, however. Chief among the problems would seem to be a clear mechanism to explain why these mighty formations (Uluru and the multiple "heads" of Kata Tjuta) resisted erosion when all around them did not -- in other words, what could explain why these incredible geological features rise up so abruptly from the Amadeus Basin when everything else around them was apparently carried away by erosion over millions of years?

Another problem, as Dr. Walt Brown points out in the section of his online book which discusses these majestic Australian landmarks, is the composition of the sand grains which comprise Uluru. He points out that they are very angular, which is a characteristic not consistent with being washed down by rivers and deposited into alluvial fans, nor with being eroded for thousands of years:
The sand grains comprising Ayers Rock are jagged but, if exposed to rapid currents, would have become rounded. Had the grains been weathered for thousands of years, they would have become clay. Instead, these grain characteristics are consistent with the gentle currents produced by liquefaction and the rapid cementing in the years after the flood.
The angular nature of these coarse-grained arkose sand particles are noted in the Wikipedia entry discussing Uluru as well.

Dr. Brown's hydroplate theory, however, proposes a very different explanation for the formation of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and one which is consistent with geological evidence around the world. He explains that the liquefaction which created the layered strata during the global flood would have sorted the sediments into layers. During the compression event in which the massive plates carrying the continents drifted and then ground to a halt due to friction, these layers, still infused with water, would have experienced massive compression and deceleration, much the way a human body strains forward against the seatbelt of a car when it decelerates rapidly.

The sand layers in the strata, Dr. Brown explains, would have had the greatest water content, with up to 40% of their mass being water. This high water content would have made this layer extremely bouyant, and during the violent compression event the lighter liquified sand would have erupted upwards through heavier overlying layers in many places, resulting in sand plumes which can still be seen in many places on earth, such as the one shown in the photograph below from Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah, in the US.

This tendency for the lighter layer to spill upwards, Dr. Brown explains, can be understood by filling a jar with a lighter liquid and then pouring a heavier liquid on top of it (such as water over oil). If the jar is given a jolt, the lighter liquid "will float up in plumes through the denser fluid."

Dr. Brown calls these remnants of the plumes that penetrated up through overlying layers "liquefaction plumes." In places where conditions were right, the same phenomenon created more massive and bowl-shaped "liquefaction mounds" -- and the enormous geological features discussed above are two of the most prominent examples remaining on the surface of the earth today. He describes the formation of liquefaction mounds in this way:
Some plumes, especially those rising from thick, laterally extensive sand layers, spilled onto the earth’s surface. This spilling-out resembled volcanic action, except water-saturated sand erupted, not lava. Small liquefaction mounds, as they will be called, appear when liquefaction occurs during earthquakes. Hundreds of liquefaction mounds are found in basins in the southwestern United States.
Dr. Brown explains that most of these mounds did not survive for long, but that those which formed in basins which were filled with water that did not drain away (carrying the mounds with them) after the flood would have had the chance to survive. Notably, both Uluru and Kata Tjuta are found in an enormous basin in Central Australia. Dr. Brown explains:
Why basins? During the compression event, liquefied water-sand mixtures in many places erupted like small volcanoes. Being surrounded and permeated by water, they would have quickly slumped into the shape of an upside-down bowl—a liquefaction mound. As the flood waters drained at the end of the flood, most liquefaction mounds were swept away, because they did not have time to be cemented. However, mounds inside postflood lakes (basins) were cemented as each lake cooled and its dissolved silica and calcium carbonate were forced out of solution. If a lake later breached and dumped its water, the larger cemented mounds could resist the torrent of rushing water and retain their shapes.
Note that the liquefaction mounds which remain in the US are also found in basins that were filled with water after the flood, perhaps for centuries, during which time the water cooled, the mounds hardened, and they were able to survive when those lakes breached (many of them are found on the floors of the two enormous post-flood of dissolved silica in the standing post-flood water basins in conjunction with the flakes that breached to form the Grand Canyon). We have discussed previously the concept of dissolved silica in an examination of the formation of petrified wood, which is also found today primarily where water was trapped after the flood, cooled, and the silica precipitated out.

Regarding Uluru or Ayers Rock, and the neighboring formation of the Olgas or Kata Tjuta, Dr. Brown says:
Ayers Rock has characteristics of both a broad liquefaction plume and a liquefaction mound. Its surface layers (bedding) are nearly vertical, and they connect to a horizontal sandstone layer underground. It formed in the Amadeus Basin, whose contained waters covered and protected it while the flood waters drained from the earth. Probably most soft sediments, through which the plume rose, were swept away when the basin’s lake finally discharged. The many large holes in the sides of Ayers Rock show where water drained out. (Almost 20 miles away, this same, deep horizontal sandstone layer also connects to a series of liquefaction eruptions called the Olgas.)
Note that his explanation also takes into account the characteristic holes in the side of true liquefaction mounds, which he refers to as "water vents" because they were formed by internal water escaping (just as water drains from a heavy sponge when it is lifted from a lake, he says). Most conventional explanations (including the web page linked above) attribute these caves to "rainstorm after rainstorm" for "millions of years," but Dr. Brown notes that wind and rain would tend to smooth out holes rather than make them, and that these holes are typically found on the sides of liquefaction mounds, not their tops, where external water would be most expected to create bowls or caves.

Those interested can examine Dr. Brown's discussion of the important phenomenon of liquefaction in greater detail on his website, and compare the strengths of the different explanations for the origin of Uluru and Kata Tjuta for themselves. The theory of rising liquefaction plumes and liquefaction mounds appears to be far more satisfactory than the mechanisms offered by conventional explanations (note as well that Dr. Brown elsewhere discusses a similar phenomenon which produced salt domes and noted that the sedimentary layers next to the upward-rising dome can be prime places where oil is trapped -- the Amadeus Basin where these enormous Australian liquefaction formations are found happens to be a major oil and natural gas producing region of Australia, which tends to support Dr. Brown's explanation).

The very comprehensive nature of Dr. Brown's theory is an extremely powerful and compelling aspect of his overall thesis. The fact that the catastrophic events he describes would explain geological phenomena around the world that are so varied and so far apart lends tremendous force to his analysis. For a list of other features on our planet -- and into the solar system beyond -- which all appear to be better explained by the hydroplate theory than by conventional tectonic or uniformitarian explanations, see the lists of links in this previous post and this previous post, as well as his book itself, which he graciously makes available to anyone for free online.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Important new discoveries about the mysterious Garamantes

Here is a link to a remarkable article in National Geographic today entitled "'Lost' Fortress of Sahara Revealed by Satellite." The subtitle reads: "Well-preserved settlements of mysterious civilization discovered in Libya."

The article explains that ancient mud-and-brick compounds deep in the Libyan desert some 620 miles south of Tripoli were identified by researchers including Dr. David Mattingly, Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Leicester, using satellite and aerial photos. An expedition to the area confirmed that the complex was built by the Garamantes, an ancient civilization described by Herodotus and many later authors, but the investigation had to be suspended due to the civil war which eventually ousted Libyan dictator Moammar Qadafi.

Now, the removal of the Qadafi regime may open the door to further exploration of this important site. Professor Mattingly explains that the Garamantes were an extremely sophisticated North African civilization:
We've built up a picture of them as being a very sophisticated, high-level civilization. They've got metallurgy, very high-quality textiles, a writing system ... those sorts of markers that would say this is an organized, state-level society.
This article from Science Daily notes that the sophistication and importance of the Garamantes was obscured by the ancient Roman description of them as barbaric nomads. That story also quotes Professor Mattingly, in this case refuting the ancient description of this nearly-forgotten civilization:
In fact, they were highly civilised, living in large-scale fortified settlements, predominantly as oasis farmers. It was an organised state with towns and villages, a written language and state of the art technologies. The Garamantes were pioneers in establishing oases and opening up Trans-Saharan trade.
The articles explain that the well-preserved ancient buildings are extensive, orderly mud-brick complexes with a castle-like appearance. Some walls still standing are over thirteen feet in height.

This discovery is extremely significant in the quest for the truth about mankind's ancient past. In chapter seven, "Origins of the Dogon," of his book The Sirius Mystery (first published in 1976), Robert Temple advanced the argument that the Dogon people of Mali are descended from . . . the Garamantes! He cites extensive evidence compiled by anthropologist Eva Meyerowitz and cited by prolific author, playwright and scholar Robert Graves which suggests that the Garamantes emigrated southward in ancient times to the region where the Dogon are found today, arriving there by the eleventh century AD.

Mr. Temple believes that this ancient migration is the original source of the remarkable knowledge preserved by the Dogon, which is discussed in several previous posts including "The knowledge of the Dogon," "Berossus and the Oannes," "The conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn," and "Supernatural or extraterrestrial?"

Note that the impressive mud structures preserved in Dogon country -- some of them centuries old and in some cases attributed to people who were the "forerunners" or "predecessors" of the Dogon -- appear to bear a remarkable resemblance to the well-preserved mud castle-complexes which have recently been discovered in the original land of the Garamantes! See the image from the Bandiagara Escarpment in Dogon land shown above.

This provides a compelling new piece of confirmatory evidence for the thesis published by Robert Temple in 1976, and for the analysis of Robert Graves before him (on which Mr. Temple based his assertions) and Eva Meyerowitz before him (on whose extensive studies in Africa Robert Graves based some of his assertions).

This is a very important aspect of these new discoveries and worth further examination in light of the new evidence.

The alleged advanced astronomical knowledge of the Dogon appears to confirm the fact that the ancient Garamantes were extremely sophisticated as well. In fact, there may have been a connection with ancient Egypt, as Robert Temple points out in the same chapter that the ancient Egyptians were one of only a very few ancient societies practicing circumcision, and the Dogon not only practice circumcision but make it central to their entire religious cultus. (We have already discussed in the posts linked above that conventional historians and anthropologists are loath to admit even the remote possibility that the documented astronomical knowledge of the Dogon could possibly be real, because such an admission would threaten the framework of their entire foundational paradigm, and threaten the zealously guarded tenets of Darwinism as well).

Note that Robert Graves asserted that the Garamantes may well have been the source of much of ancient Greek and even Minoan civilization and culture. In his 1955 text The Greek Myths, he describes extensive evidence buried in myth that the goddess Athena appears to have come from the region of Libya, and that in fact Plato had identified her with the Libyan goddess Neith. Graves points out that goat-skin motifs accompany Athena in many ancient myths (including an association with the powerful Aegis, discussed in this previous post), and that goat-skin aprons are the traditional garments of Libyan maidens.

Graves goes on to assert that:
Pottery finds suggest a Libyan immigration into Crete as early as 4000 BC; and a large number of goddess-worshiping Libyan refugees from the Western Delta seem to have arrived there when Upper and Lower Egypt were forcibly united about the year 3000 BC. The First Minoan Age began soon afterwards, and Cretan culture spread to Thrace and early Helladic Greece.
This chronology would appear to suggest that the civilization of the Garamantes, or their predecessors, was responsible for the flowering of the Minoan civilization and the later glory of Greece. More on the importance of Libya can be found in the Mathisen Corollary book itself (particularly the final chapter). Note that numerous pre-Columbian artifacts allegedly inscribed with ancient Libyan writing have been reported in the Americas (described although not pictured in this previous post).

Finally, note that the Garamantes are not the only advanced ancient civilization who appear to have been relegated to the status of "primitive barbarians" due to that kind of characterization by certain ancient Roman authors. We have seen evidence that the ancient Celts were extremely advanced, and that the accounts of Julius Caesar describe their knowledge of astronomy and science in terms of great respect, and describe their ships as superior to those of the Romans and quite probably capable of blue-water ocean navigation. However, they also received a label of primitive barbarians from antiquity, and are thus most often remembered and depicted as such today.

The accounts of Herodotus (484 BC - 425 BC) do not depict the Garamantes as barbarians. To the contrary, he describes them as "a very powerful people" and possessed of a unique technology in sowing their crops (not an activity typical of nomadic barbarians) -- and that was centuries before the Romans encountered the Garamantes.

Below is a map depicting the region of Libya inhabited by the ancient Garamantes -- note that it corresponds quite directly with the location of these remarkable new archaeological discoveries. The evidence discussed above indicates that this advanced ancient civilization may hold important clues to a revised understanding of the timeline of mankind's ancient past.