Light Pollution

Watching this time lapse video by Mike Flores – 4 years ago in Baja California – illustrates ancient civilization’s keen understanding of the cosmos. Ponder a world unfettered by light pollution – imagine this on the “big screen” every night – galactic awareness would become second nature.

This graphic sums up modern reality – a majority of Earth’s citizens live within the spectrum of the first two night skies. All but a handful of the brightest objects hopelessly lost to light pollution. I’ve used the 1994 Los Angelos Northridge earthquake example on many occasions – when the city lost power, frantic citizens called 911 and the Griffith Observatory, terrified by the appearance of a “strange, giant, silvery cloud” – it never occurred to say hello to the Milky Way.

Image showing the differences in the night sky as examples of the Bortle Sky Index

I’ve often asked myself if modern indifference towards the natural world stems from fading reminders of our place in the cosmos. Ancient people built mythology around celestial observations – cosmic shifts and alignments dictated planting, harvest. Elaborately woven lore binding earth and sky. The world made sense because nothing was taken for granted.

We’ve lost the one perspective able to put us in our place – the ability to look up and see we’re part of a very big universe. It may not be possible to find a corner dark enough to see the universe as ancient people did – watching Mike Flores video is a great place to start.

Paracus Mounds, Geoglyphs and Arrogant Nonsense

I doubt many people of my generation escaped  Erich Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods. Published in 1968, Daniken popularized ancient astronaut theory, replacing Area 51 conspiracy hub bub with  fantastic examples of actual ancient archeological mysteries.The Nazca Lines stood out as most perplexing – why indeed would ancient people create massive geoglyphs discernible only from above? I wasn’t ready to concede ancient alien intervention, yet Daniken  fueled endless ponders of civilization lost.

The Paracus people pre-dated Nazca in the highlands of Peru. UCLA researcher Charles Stanish studied a 30 square kilometer area once inhabited by the Paracus – specifically using GPS to plot geoglyphs and ceremonial mounds. What he found was a direct correlation between geoglyph lines and mounds, each set of lines leading to a mound illuminated by the rising sun on the winter solstice. His research published at suggests the lines served as markers for people to follow across the desert for notable celestial gatherings.

Parascus geoglyphs may be crude next to Nazca artistry  similar in that they look like nothing standing next to them – bound together by  the motivation of ancient cultures. Azraq Oasis in Jordan – a another little known example of geoglyphs, discovered only when aerial and satellite imaging revealed ancient desert “wheels”, further fans ancient geoglyph speculation.

Azraq Oasis wheels number in the thousands – wheel shaped patterns, complete with spokes dot middle eastern deserts – standing next to one you wouldn’t be able to pick it out from the surrounding landscape.

Image courtesy crystlinks. com – Azraq wheels in Jordan

Notions of intricate, purposeful and astronomically aligned geoglyphs standing guard for centuries in barren deserts around the globe is no small ponder. Learning of a scientific study verifying Paracus geoglyphs appear to align with ceremonial mounds where people gathered for solstice celebrations, fuels my suspicion ancient cultures kicked ass. Sorry Von Daniken, I’m not caving to your ancient astronaut theories. Instead my heart soars over a sneaky gut feeling that lost civilizations deserve some respect.

Inability to fathom ancient wisdom doesn’t immediately translate into other worldly intervention. Vast bodies of knowledge have been eradicated – lost to time, geology or religious destruction. The Maya calculated the length of a year within 3 decimal points, kept precise records of leap years going back centuries and aligned temples to mark celestial events.

Give credit where it is due – just because we’re lazy self absorbed nincompoops doesn’t mean ancient civilizations had alien help to figure it all out. Personally, I’m pondering possibilities had lost civilizations been left to their own devices. “Ancient astronaut” jibber-jabber strikes me as demeaning – a slap in the face to accomplishments blowing modern minds dysfunctional without micro chip assistance.

Would it kill us to admit that ancient people put us to shame. That awareness, observation and ingenuity defined our world long before modern smarty pants thought they were the bee’s knees? Ancient geoglyphs in a miniscule section of Peru seem to serve as public service billboards along the road to building stronger communities. Get over the alien nonsense or smugly dismissive apathy.

Ancient civilization could run circles around modern stupidity.