Tell Qaramel


History teaches ancient hunter gatherers only began building settlements once farming and domesticated animals were part of the picture. Tell Qaramel, located in the north of modern day Syria, proves again how little we know. Baffling archaeological finds; Gobekli Tepe, Puma Punku, Varna, Derinkuyu, Piri Reis map, Catalhoyuk,Tell Qaramel – blowing conventional thinking out of the water, yet nary a splash.

Tell Qaramel was identified in the 70’s when a survey revealed mounds or “tells” at the site. The tell fit conventional thinking but surrounding area formed the basis of an archaeological head scratcher. Five round stone towers have been carbon dated to between 11,000 and 9650 BC, with no evidence of farming or domesticated animals. The towers at Qaramel pre-date the tower of Jericho by roughly 2000 years – until this discovery, the tower of Jericho was considered the oldest stone tower in the world.

I could ponder till my head hurt and still not come up with reasons why we ignore ancient history. Not so much ignore as omit; leave out references to historical evidence simply because we can’t explain or justify the finds within conventional thinking.

A joint Polish – Syrian investigation continues, professor Ryszard Mazurowski from Warsaw University, has led the dig since 1999. I can’t imagine what more it will take to snap us out of mainstream, textbook historical thinking – I do however have my fingers crossed that he finds something that finally makes history stand up and take notice – carbon dating seems to have little impact.

Image from rarelyknown.org

Facts


I take comfort in facts; irrefutable, set in stone, proven beyond a shadow of doubt,snippets of information used to define our world. The Oxford Dictionary defines fact as “a thing that is known or proved to be true”,  so far so good, right? Not so fast – fact missed the memo on truth.

I know for a fact we can’t pin point the exact age of our universe. Science says 13.8 billion years, give or take a millennium or two. We have no way of ever assigning “fact” to age, we can however say for a fact, the universe is billions of years old, science has proven this to be true. According to fundamentalist Christians the world is 6427 years old. The link below gives a timeline of their reasoning – for those requiring “proof”, a search on yahoo resulted in “best answer” rating for a response to the question “how old is the earth according to the bible?” – “the Bible doesn’t specify how old earth is but the lunar landing proved only 6000 years of dust had collected on the moon”. Yikes; that’s one hell of a fact.

http://bridavis.chickenfactory.net/timeline.htm

How about the “fact” Christopher Columbus discovered America – he never set foot on the continent, his 1492 landing was in the Caribbean – I suppose “close enough” makes for good historical “fact”. Leif Erickson found Newfoundland long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue – that’s a fact. Columbus Day based on historical fiction; truth bent so long as to become “fact”.

We need to take a long hard look at what we consider fact. Considering the source, burden of proof and context go a long way towards definitive truth. It isn’t good enough to say “I heard it on TV” or “the Bible says…” We need to understand that history , more precisely “historical accounts”, are often nothing more than one side of the story. We need to stop and ponder the difference between belief and fact. One year has 365 days, 1+1=2; facts beyond a shadow of a doubt – foundations on which we build our view of the world.

Using “fact” in the context of biblical or historical accounts, takes fact from the realm of truth, to that of speculation. History is not without bias; historical accounts often written from verbal folklore, or as a one sided “white washing” of the facts.  Alexander Graham Bell is credited with inventing the telephone – dead wrong, it was Antonio Meucci, a penniless Italian immigrant who couldn’t afford to patent his invention.Biblical “fact” based on a book neither proven or known to be true. We can say for a fact the bible claims Jesus performed 37 miracles, we can’t claim they are proven or true. “Facts” are solidified only when proven to be true.

http://www.zakkeith.com/articles,blogs,forums/who-invented-the-telephone.htm

Statistics aren’t “fact”; statistics are nothing more than a snap shot of one tiny demographic. Statistical “fact” based on responses from a few thousand hand picked respondents.  Editorial news stories aren’t fact, simply the opinion of a network or newscaster. We’re bombarded with “facts” based on nothing more than opinion or public relations firms presenting one side of the story. Fact has little to do with proven truth – fact and truth parted ways some time ago.

I can say for a fact that NOAA scientists reported November 2013 to be the warmest November since records began in 1880. November was also the 37th consecutive year, and 345th consecutive month where global averages of ocean and surface temperatures increased. Compelling facts but not irrefutable proof of global warming according to websites like thewatchers. Fact is open to interpretation – a nasty backlash since parting with truth.

http://thewatchers.adorraeli.com/2013/07/07/global-warming-debunked-nasa-report-verifies-carbon-dioxide-actually-cools-atmosphere/

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/

We all need to ponder the importance of getting our facts straight. Basing our statements of fact on the Bible, history textbooks, worse still, opinionated media or websites, makes us look silly. Bible stories or Scientology beliefs that humans are inhabited by the souls of an alien race from planet Xenu – bear no resemblance to fact; the only true fact being many people believe these stories. Teaching for a fact that Mesopotamia was the cradle of civilization, ignoring Gobekli Tepe, Varna, Puma Punku simply because we lack reasonable explanation, doesn’t change the fact these places blow our mainstream historical timeline out of the water.

We owe it to ourselves; not only remind ourselves of “facts” true meaning, but to expand our children’s minds with unbiased truth – science might not be able to explain, it doesn’t negate scientific truth. Ponder a world if we based our lives on factual truth rather than biblical references, historical hearsay, media opinion or statistical slants. Stop and think how different it would be if our lives were governed by fact based on truth instead of opinion. How simple life would be if a fact was a fact – so deal with it. A world where believe in your God ,or not , was irrelevant when educating our children. A place where “this is what we can back up with archaeological evidence”  or “this confounding truth defies explanation, yet is no less real”. A world where kids grew up with all the “facts”, were allowed to imagine and wonder, form their own ideas and taught to recognize the difference between fact and hogwash.

Fact needs to high tail it back to truth; our world needs to focus on what is proven to be true rather than how we believe, or would like to think the universe is ordered.

Merry Solstice


Picture yourself thousands of years ago at a settlement on Orkney Islands in the British Isles. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people gathered at a great stone temple to witness the winter solstice. Hear the music, breath oily fires. Fall silent as the sun rises, illuminating stone after monolithic stone as far as the eye can see. Ponder the world with a Neolithic eye, in a place built hundreds of years before Stonehenge.

http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk/scotlandorkneys.htm

The winter solstice marks the shortest day, and longest night in the northern hemisphere. The point when the sun in the dome of our sky, reaches the southern most point every year. The solstice is not a day, rather a “moment in time” – a moment observed and captured by ancient civilizations on every continent.

The magnitude of precise observations; the ability to erect structures whose only purpose was to capture a fleeting moment – should shame us all.  Most of us know Dec. 21 is the first day of winter; we hurry about knowing there are only a few shopping days till Christmas. How many of us stop to think that once upon a time civilizations thrived on understanding of celestial events. People who valued everything we seem to have forgotten.

We can never be on ancient Orkney – we can imagine the thrill of revering our world. Stop for 5 minutes to gaze at the night sky, throw caution to the wind and learn to recognize a constellation or note the length of afternoon shadows. Listen to the wind, howl at the moon – I don’t care – just pay attention.

Merry solstice to all, and to all a good night.

Everything solstice by Deborah Byrd at earthsky….

http://earthsky.org/earth/everything-you-need-to-know-december-solstice

Shame on Peruvian Land Developers


Without question, one of the main reasons we know so little about ancient history is that it was destroyed. Connecting the dots between the few remaining fragments of history allow us to imagine the story of civilization. Geological records explain natural catastrophes, second hand historical accounts such as the writings of Plato describing Atlantis, sprinkle light dustings of possibility on what might otherwise be pure myth.

Conquest and assimilation is by far the biggest eradicator of history. Spanish friar, and later bishop of Yucatan, Diego de Landa is a perfect example. In 1549 Landa arrived in Mexico with the conquistadors. He set out to convert the native population and obliterate any evidence of their beliefs and culture. In 1561 he set a massive fire, burning the last remaining Maya documents detailing their history and knowledge of astronomy. In 1563 he returned to Spain to face trial for an “unauthorized” inquisition. When cleared of charges he returned in 1573 as bishop of Yucatan.

http://archaeology.about.com/od/mayaresearchers/ss/Diego-de-Landa.htm

What little we know about ancient Mexico, Central, and South America is the result of painstaking excavation of archaeological sites. Despite the church’s campaign to obliterate ancient indigenous civilizations, great strides have been made in piecing together ancient pasts. Archaeological treasures all that remain of civilizations beyond our comprehension.

Then along come greedy, bonehead land developers. With no more regard than Landa, thinking only of their interests land developers near Lima, Peru demolished El Paraiso, a 5000 year old pyramid on one of the oldest archaeological sites in South America. In May a 2,300 year old pyramid in Belize fell to a bulldozer, ending up as fill for road construction.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-23173628

Precious little remains of our ancient past. It defies conscience to see what we have, pulverized and turned into landfill.

Guilty Pleasure


I’ll come clean and admit a guilty pleasure – I’m addicted to television, not just any TV, specifically the History and Discovery channels. My PVR is set to record anything about the universe, ancient history, aliens, or conspiracies. The first two are easy to digest, the last two – not so much. Far from being a conspiracy or alien nut there’s still plenty of thought provoking ponders to sift through.

Ancient Aliens has sent me along the research path countless times. The show becomes tiresome, and I hardly ever make it to the end, but along the way I do pick up questions that are difficult to answer. Not for an instant do I think we are alone in the universe, nor do I believe Hitler escaped in an alien time capsule, the Sasquatch is an alien, or ancient Egyptian and Maya kings travelled through a star gate to distant worlds. I do wonder how precisely cut stone weighing up to 100 tons could be quarried miles away and transported across river valleys to the top of mountain peaks, then set in place so precisely you couldn’t slip a hair between them. It plants a smile on my face to know pyramids in Mexico are lined with Mica quarried 3000 miles away in South America. Rather than alien intervention I believe in lost civilization; I’m certain thousands of years history pre-date our accepted historical timeline.

Conspiracy Theory with Jessie Ventura or Brad Meltzer’s Decoded are way out there. Just the same; I thank them for my knowledge of the Alaska triangle and Bohemian Grove. While reassured that George Patton wasn’t murdered, I’m not buying that copper from the Great Lakes fuelled the Bronze Age or the Knights Templar hid the Holy Grail in America.

Anything you ever wanted to know about the universe is waiting for you on television. Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, The Universe, Known Universe, Cosmic Front – it’s all there. For the first time in my life I “get” string theory, know the difference between White Dwarfs and Red Giants, understand why tossing a cast iron frying pan into the sun would create a super nova, and that one day the universe will run out of hydrogen and go dark. Aftermath and Life After People have shown me what would happen if the world ran out of oil, the earth stopped spinning, we had no moon, or were hit by a massive asteroid.

I fall asleep listening to Monarchy by David Starkey or Neil Oliver’s The World After Stonehenge; something about a British accent that sends me off to sleep. In my corner of the world we have the Knowledge network; commercial free programs like The Story of India, Spice Trails – chronicling the early spice trade, or Brazil with Michael Palin.

Admitting my guilty pleasure is not a source of shame. I’m smart enough to take things with a grain of salt, put them in perspective, or use my research skills to learn more. In all honesty i would be lost without a voice to put me to sleep every night.

Antikythera Mechanism


Ask anyone what comes to mind when pondering ancient Greece; I guarantee they won’t say analog computer. We harbor vague ideas about ancient cultures. For most, it’s what we learned in school, dusty textbooks our only inspiration School children grind pencil crayons to stubs coloring depictions of the Sphinx, Roman Coliseum or Greek Gods for title pages of social studies reports. Neat little packages of safe assumption are recycled from generation to generation. Textbooks ignore dusty corners that defy explanation. Homogenized ancient history timelines never stray from middle of the road safety. No questions please, sense of wonder not required.

Thankfully I didn’t buy it. I always knew dark, dusty corners had stories to tell. Every time I look at them, astonishment feeds my sense of wonder, it makes me giddy knowing past civilizations kicked ass in ways we may never understand.

At the beginning of the 20th century sponge divers off Antikythera island found a bronze device along side cargo from an ancient shipwreck.No bigger than a laptop it’s stumped historians for well over 100 years. Known as the Antikythera Mechanism, it is referred to as the world’s first computer.

The mechanism resides at the Greek National Archaeological Museum in Athens. British archaeologist Derek Price voiced a theory in 1959 that it was a device to calculate astronomical events. In 1974 Price built a model, attempting to show how entering past, present, and future dates could predict everything from solar and lunar eclipses to moon phases and position of the planets. Modern x-ray imaging reveal at least 30 gears; each one a different size, with different numbers of interlocking notches and pointers. The device has over 2000 characters, most deciphered, but never published. Believed to hail from around 100 BC, it was found with wreckage of a massive Roman ship, but is considered Greek – most likely the spoil of war.

It’s hard to verbalize how satisfying it is each time I learn of an ancient head scratcher. The reason doesn’t really matter to me, for as long as I can remember I’ve believed history was not as it seems. I smile every time we have more questions than answers.  Ponder a 2000 year old machine that after 100 years we still don’t fully understand. Enter it on the list of other things we didn’t learn at school;  Derinkuyu, Catalhoyuk, Gobekli Tepe, Puma Punku, and Nabta Playa – you all shatter dusty timelines or elude explanation, and no one has even heard of you. We’ve all heard of ancient Greece, I won’t hold my breath but hope that might be enough to start looking at things differently. The Antikythera Mechanism doesn’t shatter timelines, all the same I’d love to hear my seventh grade teacher explain it to the class.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism

Nabta Playa


Nabta Playa is an ancient wonder few people have ever heard about. Relegated to that shady  grey area inhabited by rogue archaeology, lateral thinkers, alien conspiracies, and atheists. Aliens aside, I happily claim my place in that club. Nabta Playa is another irrefutable example of civilization lost.

Archeology defines civilization as people who developed a written language. This pondering thinker begs to differ.

Located about 100 miles from Abu Simbal in Egypt, Napta Playa dates back to the Neolithic period. A place that featured a natural basin to collect water in the wet season of the vast Saharan wasteland; a gathering place for nomadic hunter gatherers, beginning around 11,000 years ago. Evidence of domesticated animals and ceramics are interesting, but not anything special to set this site apart from countless other ancient settlements.

Nabta Playa confounds because it is another ancient example of  Orion worshippers,  unexpected men of science who built astronomical observatories to mark the solstices. Credited as the oldest discovered astronomical site on earth, pre-dating Stonehenge by 1000 years; the stones align perfectly with the constellation Orion.

Ponder distant hunter gatherers capable of the organization, planning, and implementation  of such a feat.