Tuesday, January 20, 2009
There is a most interesting thing that can be found in the Puma Punka Complex near Tiahuanaco. At the ancient site, standing upright in a courtyard, there can be found a tall flat stone that has a striking feature on it. The entire complex is actually quite remarkable, featuring a huge doorway complete with lintels that has been cut from a single stone and many other odd shapes that appear to have been machined including this one.
The remarkable thing about this ancient slab is that it has a perfect cut or groove approximately 1cm wide running down its entire length while inside the groove there is a set of equidistant holes that appear to have been drilled into it.
The site is only a few hundred meters from the famous site of Tiahuanaco but the stone slab and many other enigmatic features of the site are so hard to explain and pose so many difficult questions that the entire site is virtually hushed up by the entire archeological community and almost never mentioned to tourists.
The consistent accuracy of the groove and the holes within it cannot possibly have been achieved with any known types of hand tools. It would appear that the only satisfactory explanation is that it was done by a machine or possibly – by molding?
Monday, January 19, 2009
Paperback cover blurb
BACK TO THE JUNGLE
Kerans could not remember how it had been before the violent solar storms shattered the ionosphere and turned the earth into a vast tropical heat zone, a seething world of jungle, swamp and fetid water…
In the drowned, lost cities, there was the eerie beauty of the lagoons, the towering sixty-foot-high plants, the once-proud buildings smothered in silt…
Above all, there was the colossal fireball in the sky, the giant solar disk that seemed to blind him with its rays, lulling him into a strange hypnotic state, seeming to lure him back to the dawn of preconscious, to another age when Man was yet unborn and reptiles ruled the earth…
A new Age of Reptiles has begun, and humanity is nearly extinct. A sudden flare-up of the sun has melted the polar ice caps and turned the world into a great primordial swamp. (The Drowned World was written before the modern concept of global warming.) Most mammals have died out, and reptiles and plants are devolving into their ancient, Triassic-period forms to adapt to the new environment.
Kerans is a biologist accompanying a military expedition to a submerged London to study the new plant and animal life. There’s one problem: he’s haunted by dreams that may be recollections of long-lost racial memories of ancient times, when reptiles first ruled the earth. Soon he suspects that it’s just not plants and reptiles that are changing to fit the new climate.
The Drowned World was one of J.G. Ballard’s first novels, and it’s considered one of his best, although it is extremely hard to find in the U.S. The work is not so much about ancient creatures as it is about ancient environments and how humans would change to fit those environments. Ballard’s descriptions of a near-future London overrun with Triassic-age swamps are among the most haunting I’ve read. The Drowned World is not a book with much plot or action. It’s mostly about atmosphere, and on that Ballard excels brilliantly.
The science – with references to devolution and racial memory – may strike modern readers as dated. The Drowned World also comes to a screeching halt in the middle when a gang of looters sacks London, although it finds its footing again near the end. Still, it’s not a book to miss, and it’s a crime it’s so hard to find these days.Trivia
- The Drowned World was the second book in Ballard's Elemental Cycle, a series of novels dealing with the end of the world, each disaster based on the elements of earth, fire, air and water. The element of The Drowned World was, obviously, water. Other titles include The Wind from Nowhere (air), The Burning World (fire), and The Crystal World (earth).
- At least two of Ballard's novels have been made into movies: Empire of the Sun and Crash.
- The novel was reissued in 2000 as part of the SF Masterworks series, which was released in the U.K..
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Abraham Ortelius, in Parergon, Antwerp, 1595
Osher Collection, University of Southern Maine
This map depicts Europe during the period of Celtic dominance. Between the sixth and third centuries B.C., the Celts, a group of barbarian tribes from central Europe, conquered a vast region extending from Iberia to the Black Sea. They were driven back and defeated by the Romans in the third and second centuries B.C.
Friday, January 16, 2009
King Ahuitzotl invited all the people that inhabited his vast lands to celebrate; every noble, warrior, commoner, and slave was commanded to attend the festivities that would represent the culmination of Aztec supremacy over the Valley of Mexico. There was no distinction of class, gender, or ethnicity. Tenochtitlan erupted with people, and it is said that from an aerial view, the city resembled a gigantic ant colony.
The ceremony began with the placement of the four most powerful lords of the Aztec Empire at the top of the pyramid, each one situated at a cardinal point. King Ahuitzotl stood next to the statue of Huitzilopochtli; beside him stood the ruler of Tetzcoco, Lord Nezahualpilli; the ruler of Tlacopan; and the king’s adviser (cihuacoatl), Tlacaelel. The drums began to play at early dawn, and the first sacrifice took place. Lines of slaves and prisoners awaited as each lord conducted the sacrificial offering. One prisoner after the next was sacrificed from dawn to dusk for four continuous days; the temple of Huitzilopochtli poured a river of blood that emanated from the four cardinal points. It is said that 80,400 people were sacrificed during the four days, but this was probably an exaggeration. People at the footsteps of the temple waited for the blood to come down, then they collected it in small containers and spread it over their houses, temples, and municipal courts, as well as their faces, as a blessing. Tenochtitlan was covered in blood, and on the fifth day after the sacrificial ceremony had ended, the king honored the bravest warriors and lords by covering them with riches of gold and new weaponry.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Abraham Ortelius, in Parergon, Antwerp, 1595
Osher Collection, University of Southern Maine
Ancient Gaul is depicted here in accordance with the description in Julius Caesar's Commentaria, one of the earliest works to have historical maps created for it. Major topographic features and locations of native tribes, cities and Roman provinces are indicated.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
A truly amazing object has recently come to light in the form of an uncommon stone with a threaded metal bar inside it that was recently found by a Mr Zhilin Wang in China near to the Marzong Mountain region on the borders of the Gansu and Xijiang provinces.
The mysterious stone is pear shaped, about 6 x 8 cm, extremely hard and weighs 466 grams. Incredibly the rock is of a type that is totally unknown suggesting that in may in fact be a meteorite. However it is not only due to its unknown make up that the item has attracted enormous attention from many geologists and collectors around the world but also because of the starling artifact it contains within it.
As reported in the ‘Lanzhou Morning News’ on June 26, 2002: “More than 10 geologists and global physicists from the National Land Resources Bureau of Gansu Province, Colored Metal Survey Bureau of Gansu Province, the Institute of Geology and Minerals Research of China Academy, Lanzhou Branch, and the School of Resources and Environment of Lanzhou College gathered to study the origin of this mysterious stone.
“After a discussion about its possibility of being man-made and the possible reasons for its formation, the scientists unanimously labeled the stone as one of the most valuable in China and in the world for collection, research and Archeological studies.
“During the discussion, the scientists proposed many hypotheses about the formation of this stone, but found all incredible. The screw-threaded metal bar is tightly enclosed in the black lithical material. Neither the bar's entrance to the stone nor the exposed bar tip appear to be manmade. Moreover, the screw thread width remains consistent from the thick end to the thin end, instead of varying due to the growth of organisms. One of the hypotheses says that this stone could be a relic from a prehistoric civilization, since a civilization equivalent to ours is thought to have existed on earth before our current one. Another theory is that it could be a stony meteorite and it could have brought the information of an extraterrestrial civilization.
At the end of the conference, all scientists agreed that further research is needed to address questions such as how the stone was formed and whether the "metal bar" is truly metal, before the "visitor-from-outer-space" mystery can be solved.”
What this stone and the threaded object is still remains any bodies guess at the moment but if it is indeed a meteorite, then it has provided us with unquestionable prove that we are not alone.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Historians and writers, from the Viking Age onward, have suggested many different reasons why, between the years 800–1100, there was this sudden surge of activity on the part of the Scandinavian people:
- Monastic writers thought it was God’s punishment.
- European clerics, such as Adam of Bremen and Dudo of St-Quentin, attributed it to over-population and land shortage in
Scandinavia. However, there is no real evidence for this, and in some places, such as Rogaland in southwest Norwayand the Baltic , archaeological evidence suggests that the population seems to have been larger in the sixth century. islandof Oland
- The development of the classic Viking ship has been seen as a key to the Viking Age, and certainly without it the Viking Age would not have been possible.
- Icelanders, such as Ari Thorgilsson and Snorri Sturluson, thought the Vikings left
Scandinaviato avoid the growing power of kings. Certainly during the Viking Age, the kings of Denmarkand had much more power and control over their countries than had previously been the case. Norway
- There also appears to have been a trading boom in
Europe- improved ships made it possible to travel and exchange goods farther afield than before.
The account that the Norwegian trader, Ohthere, gave to King Alfred of
Monday, January 12, 2009
Abraham Ortelius, in Parergon, Antwerp, 1595
Osher Collection, University of Southern Maine
This map, oriented with north to the right, contains place names from the Roman period. Ireland is Hibernia, England is Britannia Major and Scotland is Britannia Minor or Scotia. The Scottish highlands are Caledonia, and London is Londinum Augusta. An inscription adjacent to London indicates the point at which Caesar crossed the Themes (Tamesis) River.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I’ve included this last little tid-bit in simply because I think it’s interesting and just because it may give you something to think about in your everyday life, something that really is most strange.
Most people are completely unaware of this fact but there is a fruit that is eaten by millions of people all around the world everyday that is quite remarkable and in all reality, simply shouldn’t exist. I’m talking of course, about the banana. Bananas are actually the most mysterious fruit in the world because bananas have no seeds and what makes this even more mysterious is the fact that they are found in almost every country in the world.
Now that may not sound so odd at first but let me fully explain this enigma to you: Firstly, banana plants are not trees; they are actually a perennial herb. The trunk of the plant is really nothing more than the plants outer leaves. The real stem of the plant doesn’t actually become visible until it pushes out through the top to produce the large purple flower that will eventually develop into the fruit. Then, having finished its perennial reproductive cycle, the plant dies. The problem here, is that in the reproductive cycle of the banana, seeds are completely absent from the mature fruit! A new ‘seedling’ (known as a ‘sucker’) can only ever be generated from a piece of the plants rootstock and yet bananas are found in almost most every place on earth, even on quite remote and isolated islands.
How in the world did they all get there?
The seeds certainly weren’t carried across the oceans by prevailing winds. To fully appreciate this anomaly first consider that the only other seedless plants that exist anywhere in the world are things like seedless grapes, naval oranges and the many genetically modified varieties of commercial vegetables that can now be purchased, the point is, any other seedless plants that exist, anywhere in the world, are all that way because they have genetically modified!
And yet here we have the humble banana, which is also the only food in existence that contains exactly the correct requirements of vitamins and minerals for mans metabolism completely. It is the only food that man can live on healthily, by itself, with complete nutrition, it is found all over the world and yet we have no knowledge of how it could possibly have come into being. It seems highly improbable that the worldwide distribution of a seedless fruit that is perfectly tailored for sustaining man would have just somehow ‘happened.’
It is extremely unlikely for such a plant to have ever been produced by nature all on its own and many people believe that somehow, somewhere, sometime, someone in our far distant past genetically engineered bananas into the widely dispersed and remarkably nutritious plant that we find everywhere in such abundance today.
These people cite that bananas are living daily proof of an ancient culture that spanned the entire globe in remote pre-history. Botanists also now tentatively agree that the spread of the banana plant appears to have radiated outward from the Pacific region.
The Banana plant incidentally, is not actually a fruit or a vegetable, but it does reach a height of around 30 feet at maturity which makes it the World’s largest herb and the tallest plant in existence that does not have a woody trunk.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Truly, one of the most difficult tasks in attempting to understand what many of the ancient texts are actually trying to say to us is breaking through the layers of metaphor and myth. People have sometimes commented to me that it would be nice if some of these stories just came right out and said what they mean, but it must be understood that some of these tales are extremely ancient and when you consider the options, the reasons for preserving the information as colorful myths are really very simple and quite clever too, I might add.
In reality, it’s much easier to preserve a nice story than it is to preserve technical information as people always prefer to listen to a nice story. Let’s imagine for example, that we wished to preserve the event of the Comet, Levy-Shoemaker-nine, impacting with Jupiter. Rather than give dates and names for things that we’re not even sure will be understood thousands of years from now we could associate the event with a grandly tale involving people and preserve it as a myth. Let’s for arguments sake, pretend that Mars and Venus were in alignment when the event occurred. We could create a simple tale of three Gods:
“There was once, a mighty warrior God who one day, while making a long voyage, met a beautiful maiden in a gown of blue at the edge of a great expanse of ocean. The maiden was his sister, a Goddess and the two tarried together a while conversing, for they had not seen each other in many years. But meanwhile, as they spoke together, their mighty brother God, a Giant with a single great red eye who adorned himself in robes of many colors, was attacked by an outside invader. At first, seeking to catch the giant off guard, the invader appeared as only one solitary attacker but soon cast off its disguise and divided, to reveal a force of 9 strong. It then became clear to the Giant that the attackers were his subjects, mainly cobblers who were angry at the unfair levy the God has imposed upon their trade and seeking retribution. However the force was no match for the solitary giant who, though wounded in the battle, fought back bravely and withstood the blows which numbered 20, finally devouring his foes and absorbing their essences into his Godly self.”
OK, so now all we need to do is leave behind enough information for people in the future to be able to associate the warrior with Mars and his sister in blue with Venus and The Giant in many colors with the great red eye, with Jupiter. We have comfortably dated the event by incorporated the alignment between Mars and Venus by our brother and sisters ‘meeting’ and dalliance at a far off place when Jupiter was attacked. We have even been able to make a reference to Levy- Shoemaker Nine, and the fact that it broke into 20 pieces with our inference to a force of nine ‘cobblers’ angry at a new ‘levy’ delivering 20 blows. We have covered the fact that some severe and visible wounds were left on Jupiter from the impacts and also shown that the fragments were ultimately absorbed into the mass of the planet.
So there we have a nice little ‘Myth,’ to explain the event of comet levy-shoemaker nine impacting with Jupiter, though please understand that there was no actual alignment between Venus and mars during the comet impact I’m referring to. It was a fictitious event merely used to demonstrate a point. But as you can easily see from this example, an event described in metaphor and presented as a story, is much more likely to be actually told and accurately handed down in oral traditions or written down to be read by people than technical data because names and dates are forgotten, event continuity becomes muddled, and quite frankly, technical data simply confuses too many people whereas campfire tales do not.
It’s easy to see how and why many actual events have been recorded and preserved in the form of myths. There is no reason to believe that people, thousands of years into the future, will ever be able to translate your language in entirety, look at all the nuances and double meanings in English for example. It’s much easier to preserve an event in myth and then leave behinds the means to associate the characters with their celestial and terrestrial counterparts. This has been clearly demonstrated in the Babylonian description of the cosmic collision described in Sumerian texts, as Marduk, the king of gods defeating Tiamat, the Goddess of Chaos, in a great cosmic battle, splitting her in two and forming heaven and earth from her two halves. Interestingly, in this case, ‘chaos’ could very easily be interpreted as being similar to the biblical terminology of "void and without form" that is used in genesis. Chaos also figures prominently in Greek mythology as being the stuff from which the earth was formed before the creation of the gods. The Babylonian version also contains obvious and substantial elements of the earlier Sumerian account.
The real beauty of using myth as a means of transmitting complicated information is that you can rely on uneducated people to transmit the information with a certain degree of accuracy. Then, as long as those who live in the future have the means to decipher the code you have used correctly, the knowledge is secure.
The only two coded languages you need to use are astronomy and mathematics and in all reality, these are the only two languages available to you because they are the only two languages that are guaranteed to remain consistent over exceptionally lengthy periods of time.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
A huge and very mysterious plain that can be found in the Sinai desert.
The tales of creation, ancient wars and great annihilation by sophisticated weapons told by the Ancient Sumerians talk of a great destruction that was wrought upon an ancient space port that is said to have existed in the vicinity that was utterly destroyed by advanced weaponry. If such an event really occurred surely some trace of such devastation would still be found; and indeed such can still be seen in the area presently known as the ‘Israeli Militarized Zone’ of the Sinai peninsula.
The area contains a vast triangular plain that consists of normal coloured sands but appears black from a distance because the ground is literally covered with scorched and blackened rocks. The extent of the contrasts on this plain that continues to baffle scientists was not fully realised until satellite pictures were taken of the area which only succeeded in adding to the puzzle.
Sumerian texts tell us that this plain was the location of the Ancient Spaceport, the Edin and the 5 other ‘vital control centres’ that were completely obliterated in the final conflicts of the Anunnaki by “Seven Weapons of Terror” and it is here that we find a huge blackened scar on the planets surface that can be likened to nowhere else on Earth. Now what do you suppose would cause that?
Monday, January 5, 2009
In 1929 there was an amazing map discovered in the Imperial Archives at Constantinople that had been sitting, virtually unexamined, for years. The map, which had been drawn in 1513 by a Turkish Admiral named Piri Reis, showed North America, South America, Greenland and Antarctica. However what is so perplexing about this map is that Antarctica had not been discovered in 1513. Antarctica was not located until 1820 and America had only been discovered in 1492, a mere 21 years prior to the maps creation and yet it is mapped quite accurately.
Remarkably, the map also depicts several land masses bearing their correct longitudes even though longitude itself was not discovered until the late 1700’s either.
Reis had been a famous Turkish Admiral of the 16th Century. He had a passion for maps, He loved cartography and was a highly experienced and respected mariner. In his day, he was considered to be an expert on all Mediterranean Lands and Coastlines and also held high in the favors of the Turkish court. Such a noble status enabled him to enjoy privileged access to the Imperial Library at Constantinople and he spent much of his spare time there. In his notes Reis said that he had based his map on several much older maps he had seen at the library, including one that Columbus is reported to have viewed prior to his voyage to the Americas. The map in question was said to have been captured from the Spaniards in a naval engagement and later given to the admiral by a Spanish prisoner who had apparently sailed on three of Columbus's New World voyages! Many scholars have indeed suspected that Columbus was in possession of a map and already knew of the existence of America before embarking on his famous ‘voyage of discovery’. Reis also wrote a well known Turkish book on sailing called ‘Kitababi Bahriye’ in which he gives detailed and accurate descriptions of the coastlines, harbors, bays, currents, shallows and straits of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. He was beheaded by the Turkish Court in 1554 or 1555 for reasons now unknown.
In case you can’t see it, That’s the top piece of Africa on the top right of the map and the tip of south America reaching out to it from the left side of the map, running up through the gulf of Mexico and up to Nth. America. The tip of Antarctica can be seen sticking up on the bottom right. Another interesting point to this map is the strange layout of the South American continent which looks sort of stretched out of shape. However, viewing the sphere of earth from space accurately produces this type of view. Funny that…
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Abraham Ortelius, in Parergon, Antwerp, 1595
Osher Collection, University of Southern Maine
This map depicts the central region of Italy inhabited by the ancient Latins. A miniature plan of the walled city of Rome is seen at its western border. An insert view at the lower left depicts the Circaean Promontory, described in the Aeneid as the home of the enchantress Circe, who changed the companions of Odysseus into swine.
Between the steep scarp of the Appennine ridges and the outlying Ausonian mountains, the Valle Latina provides an excellent low level inland route north from Campania. It debouches into a wide plain from which rise two large volcanic uplands, the Monti Sabatini and the Alban hills. Between these flow the perennial and navigable Tiber, and its tributary the Anio, whose headwaters form a rare east-west route across the mountain spine of the peninsula. A relatively heavy rainfall has furrowed the sides of the volcanoes with a radial pattern of deeply incised gullies, between which are many defensive sites. In the eighth to sixth centuries these were occupied by the numerous small agricultural settlements of an Italic people whose copious archaeological remains are now usually called Latial. Over the last twenty years it has become clear from sites like Castel di Decima and Osteria dell’ Osa that their society was prosperous and complex, as well as distinct from the Hellenised Etruscans to the north and in Campania, and from the other Italic peoples.
Near the Tiber—which served both as a route to the interior and as port of entry for overseas cultural influences—the terrain is flatter, though not very fertile. This is the distinctive landscape of the Roman Campagna, an area virtually uninhabited in large tracts almost within living memory, but in the imperial period the teeming hinterland of Rome: it was crisscrossed by a network of local and long-distance roads, which gave access to suburban communities, dormitory towns, villas and horticultural areas. This unique human landscape was the product of Rome’s astonishing success as an imperial capital. Her cultural and political achievement was founded upon her nodal position on the navigable Tiber: in the Latial period this had given her the hegemony of the towns of the region, as well as a prosperity which even in the sixth century made her one of the larger cities of the western Mediterranean.
Friday, January 2, 2009
Lyman Coleman, in Text Book and Atlas of Biblical Geography, Philadelphia, 1854
Osher Collection, University of Southern Maine
This is the frontispiece of a popular nineteenth-century biblical geography book designed to call attention to "a most important but neglected branch of education." "Modern Jerusalem" is actually the old walled city as it existed in the mid-nineteenth century. Many important holy sites are identified, including the ancient Temple, the Church of the Holy Sepulchure, the Mosque of Omar and the "Wailing Wall."
Jerusalem had the protection of the deep, steepsided valleys of Kidron and Gehenna to the east, south and west: these acted as vast natural fosses in front of the city walls and of the east wall of the Temple enclosure, which was itself part of the fortifications. On the north there was only manmade protection. The first north wall was Hasmonaean. The second was possibly built in the latter part of the first century BC by Herod the Great, who strengthened the north west angle with three massive towers. The line of this wall is conjectural, but it is known to have run from near Herod’s towers to Antonia, his new fortress built for the protection of the Temple on more or less the same site as two earlier ones. These two walls were not demolished when Agrippa I planned a new north wall (not actually completed until early in the war of AD 66–70) to enclose the growing suburb of Bezetha. Some scholars hold that this new wall followed roughly the line of the present sixteenth-century wall, but evidence is accumulating for the more northerly line of the wall, named ‘Mayer-Sukenik’ after the archaeologists who found the first traces of it. Robinson’s Arch at the southern end of the western wall of the Temple enclosure supported a broad stairway leading down to the Tyropoeon or Cheesemakers’ Valley. Wilson’s Arch is the first arch of a viaduct leading across the valley to the Upper City. Josephus describes the city, its fortifications, and the Temple in his Jewish War 5.136–247.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
DONNELLY AND THE ANTEDILUVIAN WORLD
The most influential of these writers was the American politician and amateur historian, Ignatius Donnelly. In his 1882 bestseller, Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, Donnelly set out his theory that Atlantis had really existed and had been the ‘master’ civilisation that founded most of the world’s subsequent great civilisations, from Egypt to the Incas. Modern conceptions of Atlantis still owe much to Donnelly’s vision of a mighty civilisation with advanced technology and wisdom. He also argued that the myths and legends of many cultures derived from faded race memories of Atlantean history, so that the gods of Norse or classical mythology were based on real kings, queens and heroes of Atlantis, and that when Atlantis was destroyed in a great cataclysm, survivors of the deluge colonised other parts of the world and founded new civilisations.
As evidence for his theory, Donnelly pointed to ancient transatlantic cultural similarities such as pyramid building and sun worship, claiming that Mayan petroglyphs and Egyptian hieroglyphs both stemmed from the Atlanteans, who invented writing (along with astronomy, metallurgy, glass, the compass and various other attributes of civilisation). Donnelly pointed out that many cultures shared myths of great floods and migrant culture heroes who founded civilisations. He also claimed that many plants and animals on either side of the Atlantic were obviously related, pointing to the existence of a now-submerged land bridge across the ocean.
Most of Donnelly’s evidence has since been disproved; he was wrong about the similarities between the Mayan language and Mediterranean ones, and more powerful theories have arisen to explain trans-Atlantic similarities between animals and plants. But he had sowed the seeds of Atlantean ‘studies’ as we know them today.
Several other scholars of varying credibility took up the Atlantean baton, particularly with reference to the Mayan and Aztec cultures. This was due partly to the relative vacuum of knowledge about these mysterious civilisations, and partly to the suggestive presence of pyramids, sun-worshipping and other attributes. But could there also have been a hint of condescension, verging on the racist – the assumption by European/white scholars that the ‘inferior’ Native American races could not have created their own civilisations from whole cloth, but must owe their achievements to inspiration from an essentially classical/ European progenitor?
Once more was known about the Mayans, Aztecs, Incas and others, however, it was generally accepted that their language, writing, architecture and science were indigenous, and that many of the interpretations and translations of pre-Colombian texts that had appeared to support Atlantean theories were simply wrong.
Lemuria first surfaced to visibility in the by-lanes of Victorian science, but the foundations for the metropolitan fascination with Earth’s lost worlds and vanished pasts were laid in the closing decades of the eighteenth century with two important developments. The first of these was the discovery of “deep time” in the 1780s. Up until then, most scientists and educated opinion considered the earth to be about 6,000 years old. Yet this reckoning, based on Biblical chronology, was soon at odds with the nascent science of geology, which was fast revealing that the earth’s surface had undergone vast transformations at a rate that could not be accommodated within such a short time span. Beginning with the Comte de Buffon, who estimated the age of the world to be around 75,000 years in 1774, many scientists progressively jettisoned the Christian calendar in favor of a new secular chronology in which the birth of Earth as a functioning planet was pushed further and further back in time. In Robert Wood’s estimation, “to join battle with the ‘prejudice of human time’ (i.e., to accommodate all past times to the scale provided by human memory) was to prove the great crusade of the heroic age of Geology.” By the opening years of the nineteenth century, the limits of humanly remembered time had been blasted. The bottom had dropped out of a hitherto finite earth history, opening up a deep (and to some, a dark) abyss, waiting to be filled by human imagination.
The Indian Ocean formed a continent which extended from the Sunda Islands along the southern coast of Asia to the east coast of Africa. This large continent of former times Sclater, an Englishman, has called Lemuria, from the monkey-like animals which inhabited it, and it is at the same time of great importance from [sic] being the probable cradle of the human race, which in all likelihood here Wrst developed out of anthropoid apes.
So wrote the German biologist Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) in 1870 in the second edition of his best-selling Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte, translated into English in 1876 as The History of Creation.90 Haeckel’s identification of Lemuria as “the probable cradle of the human race” distinguishes his labors of loss from the place-making of natural historians, biologists, and geologists. In so identifying it, Haeckel wrests Lemuria from the world of zoogeography, where it had circulated as a faunal highway and paleocontinental connection, and inserts it instead into the all-important grand narrative of the primeval history of man that so many were attempting in the second half of the nineteenth century. At the very least, this means that in his evolutionary and ethnological labors of loss, Lemuria lingers on into the Pliocene instead of disappearing in the early Tertiary period, or earlier, as it does for the zoogeographer or the geologist. As a Pliocene place-world, it enables both the appearance of humans and their dispersal across the globe as so many races. In other words, for the first time, Sclater’s lost continent comes to rest within the horizon of human reckoning, leading some even to boldly suggest that it was its submergence and loss that might be remembered in legends of an antediluvial world prior to the Noachian Deluge.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Ptolemy, who had accompanied Alexander all the way to the Indus River and back, took up Alexander’s idea of an expedition to Arabia. During his reign (323–285 B.C.), he sponsored an expedition under an admiral Philo, who sailed down along the Africa side of the Arabian Sea. Philo did not discover any new lands, but following his return the Egyptians under Ptolemy began to import elephants and ivory from Africa south of Egypt. Ptolemy I’s son and successor, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, established trading ports along the Red Sea, opened up trade with Yemen and Somalia, and sent expeditions that explored the coast of the Horn of Africa. Subsequent members of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, as these rulers of Egypt are known, sent still more expeditions to this region.
Admittedly, these expeditions were more concerned with trade, but each contact increased the store of knowledge of these little known locales. One of the most ambitious explorers of this era was a man who seemed to have combined commercial goals with sheer curiosity, Eudoxus of Cyszicus, a city in northwest Turkey. The adventures of Eudoxus are known only through the account in Strabo, the Greek geographer and historian (ca. 63 B.C.–ca. A.D. 24), who in turn was simply repeating the account of Posidonius (ca. 135–50 B.C.), another Greek-Roman historian. Eudoxus’s first expedition took place under Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II, who ruled the kingdom from 146 to 111 B.C. As the story went, “an Indian happened to be brought to the king by the guards of the Arabian [Gulf], who said they found him cast ashore alone and half dead, but who he was and whence he came they did not know because they could not understand his language.” After the Indian was taught Greek, “he promised to be a guide on a voyage to India for men chosen by the king.” Eudoxus is among those who went but when he returned loaded with precious stones and other valuable objects, Euergetes took all (or most of) his cargo. When Euergetes died, his widow sponsored another expedition to India; again, Eudoxus returned with valuable goods,again, the new king, seized all (or most all) of his cargo.
One would think that Eudoxus would quit at that, but while returning on that second voyage, he had been blown ashore on the east coast of Africa. Not having any notion of how large Africa was, he decided to sail around it and head straight for India, thus avoiding the Ptolemies—by heading first for its west (Atlantic) coast. He fitted out a ship and sailed across the Mediterranean, along the way taking on all kinds of cargo expected to trade in Africa and India, “and also physicians. . . . and carpenters besides.” Sailing through the Pillars of Hercules, he rounded the northwest shoulder of Africa, but before long his ship ran aground and was wrecked. He built a new ship and sailed a bit farther, but then turned back, intending to make a new voyage in a larger ship. In fact, Eudoxus probably had gone only slightly south of Morocco.
On his way back “he saw and noted down a well-watered and well-wooded but unpeopled island”—possibly one of the Canaries, possibly one of the Madeiras. After several adventures in northwest Africa, he made his way back to Spain, built two more ships, and organized yet another expedition with the goal of reaching India. Even Strabo remarks: “How was it that [Eudoxus] did not fear. . . . to sail again.” In any case, he sailed off once more into the Atlantic and down the west coast of Africa—and was never heard of again. Although some scholars question just how much of Eudoxus’s story is true, others accept it and regard Eudoxus as having earned a place in the history of exploration.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
A long avenue leads to the "Pyramid of the Moon" and it is sometime thought that this avenue might have been filled with water to make a sort of canal or waterway approaching the pyramid.
Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacán
Pyramids in the New World, such as the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacán shown above, are unlike those in Egypt in that, rather than coming to a peak, they are level atop, forming platforms for temples. American pyramids often achieved their monumental proportions because their builders, rather than starting from scratch, would envelope old structures as fill. The Cholula pyramid, with a volume of 3 million meters, a base covering 46 acres, and a height of 198 feet, has been said to be the largest preindustrial building ever erected on earth. Yet its final bulk was achieved by various building projects over the centuries that incorporated earlier pyramids—larger than the Pyramid of the Moon. Like their Egyptian counterparts, however, the pyramids sometimes contain royal tombs painted with murals and accompanied with precious jades and, in the Post-classic period, gold ornaments. Although many have speculated about burials inside Teotihuacán’s Sun and Moon pyramids, the first evidence suggestive of a royal tomb in the Pyramid of the Moon was discovered only in 2002.
The Pyramid of the Moon is the second largest building in Teotihuacan after the Pyramid of the Sun. The Pyramid of the Moon is located in the northern part of Teotihuacan and it mimics the contours of Cerro Gordo. Some have called it Tenan which in Nahuatl means "mother or protective stone." The Pyramid of the Moon covers a structure older than the Pyramid of the Sun which existed prior to 200 A. D.
The Pyramid's construction between 200 and 450 A.D. completed the bilateral symmetry of the temple complex. A slope in front of the staircase gives access to the Avenue of the Dead, a platform atop the pyramid was used to conduct ceremonies in honor of Chalchiuhtlicue, the goddess of water and of the moon. This platform and the sculpture found at the pyramid's bottom are thus dedicated to Chalchiuhtlicue.
Opposite Chalchiuhtlicue's altar is the Plaza of the Moon. The Plaza contains a central altar and an original construction with internal divisions, consisting of four rectangular and diagonal bodies that formed what is known as the "Teotihuacan Cross."
Between 100 and 500 A.D, an ancient people built a flourishing metropolis called Teotihuacan on a plateau about 25 miles (40 km) from present-day Mexico City. With its accurately aligned avenues and a huge plaza surrounded by 15 monumental pyramids, Teotihuacan was bigger than any city in Europe at that time. It covered over nearly 8 square miles (21 km2) and 200,000 people lived there. Teotihuacan was built 700 years before the Aztecs began constructing their capital city of Tenochtitlan.
It was said by the Aztecs to have been surmounted by a huge stone figure related to the moon but this figure was uncovered (weighing 22 tonnes and was somehow lifted to the top of the pyramid) and it is thought more likely that it represents a water deity. 
Recently, archaeologists have excavated beneath the Pyramid of the Moon. The archaeologists are looking for clues to the history of this mysterious culture. Tunnels dug into the structure have revealed that the Teotihuacan’s citizens did not remain pleased with their architectural feats for very long. Over a period of several hundred years, the pyramid underwent at least six facelifts and each new addition was larger and covered the previous structure.
As the archeologists burrowed through the layers of the pyramid, they discovered artifacts that provide the beginning of a timeline to the history of Teotihuacan. The latest find, made by a team led by Saburo Sugiyama, associate professor at Aichi Prefectural University in Japan and adjunct faculty at Arizona State University, and Ruben Cabrera of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, is a tomb apparently made to dedicate the fifth phase of construction. It contains four human skeletons, animal bones, jewelry, obsidian blades, and a wide variety of other offerings. Archeologists estimated that the burial occurred between 100 and 200 A.D.
Another tomb dedicated to Chalchiutlicue was discovered a year ago. It is dated to the fourth stage of construction. It contained a single human male sacrificial victim as well as a wolf, jaguar, puma, serpent, bird skeletons, and more than 400 other relics which include a large greenstone and obsidian figurines, ceremonial knives, and spear points.
ScienceDaily (1999-09-21) -- An unexpected set of new discoveries in the ongoing excavation beneath the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacan may provide critical clues in reconstructing a 2,000-year old history still mysteriously missing from the ruins of the ancient master-planned metropolis, located 25 miles from current Mexico City.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
“I don't want to just make it up": Author Michael Crichton, whose novels effortlessly blended science and suspense, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was 66.
By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY
He scared millions of us by cloning dinosaurs with prehistoric DNA in Jurassic Park and by unleashing a virus from outer space in The Andromeda Strain.
But author Michael Crichton, who died Tuesday November 4, at age 66, was more than just the king of the cinematic techno-thriller whose books and screenplays became 13 movies.
He also created ER, one of TV's longest-running dramas. As a movie producer and director, he pioneered the use of computer-generated special effects.
In best-selling novels, he raised contrarian questions about global warming and sexual harassment.
And all that after graduating from Harvard Medical School.
In a statement Wednesday, his family said Crichton died in Los Angeles after a "private" battle with cancer.
His books sold 150 million copies worldwide. He never won a Pulitzer or was even nominated for a National Book Award, but did have a newly discovered dinosaur named for him in 2002: the Crichtonsaurus bohlini.
At his best, he was a master at blending fact and fantasy. He was as much a researcher as a novelist who popularized technical topics and put the science back into science fiction.
"I don't want to just make it up," he told USA TODAY in an interview in 1996. "I'd rather have something with the awkward contours of real events."
In Twister (1995), he explored the violence of nature. Sphere (1987) dealt with black holes. Rising Sun (1992) was about international economics, back when Japan seemed to be a threat.
At 6-foot-9, Crichton was hard to miss. In 1995, Time crowned him "The Hit Man" in a cover story about his commercial success in books and movies.
His breakthrough novel was The Andromeda Strain (1969), but his biggest hit was Jurassic Park (1990). Both it and its sequel, The Lost World (1995), were turned into blockbuster movies.
When he was writing the original novel, he was asked what he was doing. He replied, "I'm writing the most expensive movie ever made."
"That was said as a joke," he said later. "I thought, 'Who can make this?' This was in the late '80s. A hundred and fifty million? Maybe. Two-year-shooting script? Ridiculous. Out of the question."
Directed by Steven Spielberg, Jurassic Park went on to make $915 million worldwide. With $357 million in North American ticket sales, it's the 13th-highest-grossing movie of all time. In all, Crichton's books and screenplays generated $1.3 billion domestically and $2.8 billion worldwide.
The adaptations lost some box-office steam late in his career (the $80 million Timeline, about time-traveling graduate students from Yale, earned just $19 million in 2003), but Crichton was one of the most powerful writers in Hollywood.
He wrote and directed 1973's Westworld, about a Wild West theme park gone haywire. It pioneered the use of computer-generated special effects.
He mined his own medical training to create ER, which made George Clooney a star and is now in its 15th and final season.
"One of the things that distinguishes that show from other television shows is the degree to which it is based on real stories," Crichton said. "Viewers can tell."
His novel Airframe (1996), a technological whodunit about a midair accident, was triggered when he noticed a crew struggling to close a plane's door.
That got him thinking: "This is nothing but a big machine that someone made. I had never thought of it that way before."
The novel, which questioned air safety, also attacks TV disaster coverage for its focus on emotions at the cost of information. And that prompted a question in an interview with USA TODAY:
Was it ironic that ER's creator was complaining about TV's superficiality?
"Where's the connection?" he snapped in response. "Because ER is successful, I should think TV is wonderful? ER is entertainment; I'm talking about news. Once, those were very separate things. Now they're not, and that's part of the problem."
He seemed to enjoy stirring up controversy with his fiction.
Feminists didn't like Disclosure (1994), in which a male executive sues his female superior for sexual harassment. It was turned into a movie starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore.
Environmentalists attacked State of Fear (2004), which questioned whether global warming was a major threat. It was a novel, but it won The American Association of Petroleum Geologists Journalism Award and praise from President Bush, who hosted Crichton at the White House.
He was born Oct. 23, 1942, in Chicago and raised in Long Island, N.Y. His father was a journalist. "So it seemed like a normal occupation, to sit down and type something as your job," Crichton told the British newspaper The Guardian. "I was the weird kid who wrote extra assignments the teacher didn't ask for.
"I just did it because I liked writing so much. I was tall and gangly and awkward and I needed to escape, I guess."
His writing career began at 14, when he had an article published in the Travel section of The New York Times. He helped pay his way through medical school by writing mysteries, including A Case of Need, written under the pen name Jeffrey Hudson, which won the 1969 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America.
He was known as a workaholic. He was married five times and divorced four. His fourth wife, Anne-Marie Martin, publicly complained after their divorce that his work habits left her feeling abandoned: "'It's like living with a body and Michael is somewhere else."
He is survived by his wife, Sherri, and only child, a daughter, Taylor, 19.
He cited his major influences as Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain and Alfred Hitchcock. As a novelist, his plots were often better than his writing. But Crichton didn't seem bothered that he was more popular with readers than critics.
He said his primary goal in writing books or making movies or TV shows was to "entertain people. It's fun to manipulate people's feelings and to be manipulated."
As for critics, he said, "Every critic assumes he's a code-breaker; the writer makes a code and the critic breaks it. And it doesn't work that way at all. As a mode of working, you need to become very uncritical.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
BY WILL HART
What Could Explain the Failure of Mainstream Science to Unravel the Origins of Meso America’s Advanced Ancient Cultures?
It has been 23 years yet I remember the morning like it was yesterday. A mist shrouded the jungle above the Temple of the Inscriptions. A series of roaring sounds suddenly split the silence as a band of Howler monkeys made their way through the trees. It startled me, I thought it might be a jaguar, but the cacophony added to the sense of mystery.
My head was exploding. By the time I had reached Palenque we had already visited dozens of archaeological sites from the northernmost down to the Yucatan Peninsula and Quintana Roo. I was steeped in questions and mysteries. Several things had become clear to me: the cultures that built the pyramids and other buildings had been advanced in the arts and sciences. I had seen many beautiful things as well as mind-tugging enigmas.
The Olmec civilization surprised me the most. I had read about the Maya and knew of the Aztecs but I was unprepared for what I found in Villahermosa: Large stone heads with Negroid features and stone Stele carved with depictions of curious ambassadors. The figures clearly were not from any Mexican culture.
These artifacts were more than just a fascinating puzzle; they represented a headache for science. They were an anomaly. Who carved the heads? Who created the Stele? Where did they get the models for these heads and figures? These were questions that arose because of the way scientists have reconstructed the human history of Mesoamerica. Africans don’t fit and neither do the cloaked Caucasian figures carved on the Stele. They shouldn’t be there; however, they are surely there.
Scientists do not claim to have solved this enigma. Anthropologists and archaeologists admit they do not know much of anything about Olmec culture. So we don’t know the ethnic group or the language and nothing of their social organization, beliefs or traditions. No one has any idea of why they carved the helmeted heads and then buried them. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. We don’t usually bury monuments if that is what they were.
The only records we have are the monuments they left behind, which are impressive. But how do we understand them? Where do they fit into the mosaic of human history? There are no direct clues in Mexico. The Olmecs didn’t leave us any written records. However, we do have a clue.
The Bible is an extremely important document. It doesn’t matter whether you are a believer or not. It contains a very ancient accounting of human history compiled from a variety of early sources. At least this is true of Genesis. But it is not always easy to decode. Do we find any reference in the Bible that might help us solve the Olmec enigma?
Turning to Genesis chapter 11 we read “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.” This indicates that there was a period in man’s history when there was a global human civilization. We learn that during that epoch men wanted to build a tower: “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven; and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
The fact that the Olmec civilization presents science with an anomaly indicates something quite profound: the data does not fit the current model. Scientists can’t change the observable data, it is as hard as data can get. But they could change the model to conform to the data. There is the rub. Anthropologists and archaeologists have a huge investment in that model, an intellectual edifice that has been built up over generations.
Scientists would rather ignore the tough questions and leave the Olmecs alone in the dim mists of forgotten antiquity. That is not a very scientific approach. Where is the pursuit of truth? What happened to the scientific method? It is just not acceptable. Why? Some ancient society built the huge mound; dragged the basalt heads about 60 miles from the quarry to the burial site; those heads weighed from 5 to 25 tons; and they also carved the figures into the stele. They wouldn’t have gone to all that trouble unless the people the monuments represented were important to them. It is a logical assumption to make and we can only hope that scientists in the distant future will reach the same conclusion when they study Mount Rushmore.
Since we have the artifacts we know that there has to be an explanation for who the builders were. As with any mystery you search for clues. You begin in the most likely places and work your way down the list: Mexico. The problem is that the Olmecs disappeared from the scene long before Cortez arrived. None of the cultures contemporary with the Aztecs made any references to the Olmecs; they seemed to know nothing. No other Negroid heads have been found in Mesoamerica. Another curious fact is that the developmental period that must have preceded the mound building and head carving is nowhere to be found.
The Olmecs just suddenly appeared then disappeared!
It took me years of investigation to finally realize that the most probable answer was in the Bible and that was about the last place I thought to look. Did the Olmecs come from outer space as some researchers have proposed? Not necessarily. For one thing there is no evidence to support that theory. Secondly, the Negroid heads and the people depicted on the stele are obviously human.
The idea that there was a global civilization in ancient times does not conform to the current model of science. However, it is corroborated by the reference in the Bible. The problem with the scientific model is that it can’t explain the available data and that is a serious issue that has many consequences. If the problem was limited to the Olmec civilization we might just let it go. But there are artifacts in Egypt, South America and other parts of Mexico that also don’t fit the orthodox scheme.
Scientists have often shown a willful blindness regarding artifacts and developments that they can’t explain using their belief system. Worse, they have either ignored key questions or discredited the facts. Many other hard facts, the remains of lost civilizations, and the cultural records of numerous peoples corroborate the Olmec enigma and the Bible.
References to the cataclysmic flood occur in 230 different cultures. Mayan history includes the story of how they came from a land to the east that had been destroyed. The historian Herodutus’ recounted of the tale of lost Atlantis. These accounts may sound like romantic myths spun out of early imaginations, however, when you stand at an ancient site surrounded by strange ruins…you begin to wonder if they just might have more than a grain of truth.
I climbed the steps of the Temple of Inscriptions and visited the tomb of Pacal. Then I decided to take a long trip down to the Rio Usamacinta to Bonampak and Yaxchilan. It was 100 miles of bad dirt road, heavily rutted in places. It finally became so muddy that we mired the van up to the axles. We had nearly reached the destination. Bonampak was a short walk.
I visited Bonampak. My next destination was Yaxchilan, a ruin secreted in the jungle about 8 miles from Bonampak. I decided to try and hack my way there with a machete against the advice of the natives who had warned me: “La selva is cerrado!” They were right. I gave up after a grueling four-hour stint that netted less than a quarter mile mostly on my belly trying to avoid razor-sharp thorn shrubs. The insects were ravaging my body.
Yaxchilan is situated on the river and it was alleged to be the center of the flourishing Mayan civilization in this region. In Feb. 1989, James O’Kon did manage to make it to the site. Archaeologists had been studying it for a century. A particular mound of rocks caught O’Kon’s trained eye. Scientists had dismissed it as a minor mystery but the amateur archaeologist was also a forensic engineer and he immediately knew what it really was: part of a bridge.
He turned to modern technology to help prove a bridge once existed at the site. O’Kon, a former chairman of the forensic council of the American Society of Civil Engineers, had used similar techniques during investigations. He compiled field information at the Mayan site and used computers to integrate archaeological studies, aerial photos and maps to develop a three-dimensional model of the site and determine the exact positioning and dimensions of the bridge.
O’Kon ended up making a startling discovery: The Mayans had constructed the longest bridge span in the ancient world. When he finished calculations and computer models, the bridge turned out to be a 600-foot span, a hemp rope suspension structure with two piers and three spans. It connected Yaxchilan in Mexico with its agricultural domain in the Peten, now Guatemala and where Tikal is situated.
What archaeologists had assumed was an insignificant rock pile turned out to be part of a crucial finding, a pier 12 feet high and 35 feet in diameter. Aerial photos located a second support pier on the opposite side of the river. Both piers were constructed of cast-in-place concrete and an exterior of stone masonry. That is exactly how the Mayan pyramids were made.
In interviews O’Kon, who has been studying the ancient Maya for 30 years, said, “the Mayas were very sophisticated mathematically and scientifically.” He claimed the design requirements of the Mayan bridge parallel 20th century bridge-design criteria.
Today we marvel at the ruins and speculate on how and why they built the ceremonial sites. We shouldn’t forget that the Maya were an advanced race. They understood astronomy. They had an accurate calendar. They invented the concept of zero at least 700 years before Europe. They built paved roads, and as we have recently learned, the longest suspension bridge in the ancient world.
What occurred to me while standing atop another pyramid at Coba in Quintana Roo surveying a trackless jungle was the fact that the Maya had achieved all this in a jungle. No other advanced civilization I could think of had emerged from a jungle environment. It deepens the mystery of this lost race.
The sacbe are a system of roads that interconnect the sites. This is another feature that has long puzzled scientists and independent investigators alike. The roads were built up with rocks, leveled and paved over with limestone cement. They vary in width from 8 feet up to 30 feet. The mystery is simple: Why would a ‘stone age’ people without wheeled vehicles or dray animals need such an elaborate and sophisticated road network?
O’Kon turned his attention to the sacbe after finishing his work on the bridge. In a long rambling interview he told the author that he had found the 60-mile road that extended from Coba to Yaxuna was as straight as an arrow with a negligible deviation. His studies have revealed the Maya were not ‘stone age;’ he refers to them as “technolithic.” They didn’t use iron because the nearest mines were 1,500 miles away. O’Kon claims, “They used jade tools and they were harder than steel.”
You almost have to stand at a site and image the scene as it was during the peak of Mayan civilization to really grasp the magnitude and appreciate what this culture achieved. Today we see ruins and jungle. Pyramids that are little more than bare stone. Crumbling buildings surrounded by wilderness. However, in that day the pyramids were coated with stucco. They were smooth and they gleamed in the sun. The walls of the structures were painted with various designs using bright colors. The courtyards were paved. The flat white roads radiated out in all directions connecting the centers together.
Despite their advanced knowledge of astronomy and mathematics and their achievements in art and architecture, scientists still consider them a ‘stone age’ culture.
Time is the essence of life. Human beings have always been immersed in it, keeping track of it in one way or another, measuring it as minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and millennia. We know of many of its dimensions and we have used them to our advantage. We know, supposedly, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth; how long it takes for various radioactive isotopes to decay; when our early hominid ancestors branched off from apes; the layout of the human genome; the exact dates of lunar and solar eclipses long into the future.
Time causes all living things to grow old and die. It seems so obvious and ubiquitous, we are like fish and time is water. We never ask the basic question: What is it? Do we understand it? Is it more than a system of measurement, whether of the present moment or of the age of the universe?
All cultures certainly have a focus on time; however, the Maya had an obsession with it.
They tracked and measured the synodic period of Venus, which is 584 earth days. The 365-day Mayan calendar year was more precisely than the Gregorian calendar. They devised three different calendrical systems: the tzolkin (sacred calendar), the haab (civil calendar), and the long count.
The tzolkin is a cycle of 260 days (13 months of 20 days each) and the haab is the solar cycle. These two calendars were combined in an interlocking fashion to produce a cycle of 18,980 days, which was known as a calendar round. That is about 52 years.
Each day had a particular glyph and meaning ascribed to it and at the end of the 52-year cycle they had a renewal ceremony. The long count period lasted for about 5000 years. This was equivalent to an age. According to the Maya, humanity is in the 5th Sun or age. That will end about 5000 years from the beginning of their calendar, which started in 3011 BC and expires on 2012.
The longest cycle in Mayan cosmology is 26,000 years, which corresponds to the precession of the equinox. Why did the Maya have such a fascination with astronomy? Why did they create such an intricate calendrical system? Would a ‘stone age’ agrarian society need all this advanced astronomical and mathematical knowledge? How did they acquire it in such a short time? How would they have any awareness of such a complex phenomena as the synodic length of Venus or the precession of the equinoxes?
They are either more ancient than science allows or they had more sophisticated technology than we know of or someone passed the knowledge down to them. Is it coincidental that the beginning of the 5th age was 3000 BC, which corresponds to the birth of the Jewish and Chinese calendars? The assertion that the “world” is only 5000 years old may have more truth to it than we know. Is it also a coincidence that so many Christians believe we are in the end times?
The Mayan obsession with time may have been based on a deep awareness of how it functions on a cosmic scale and then unfolds on earth in short and long-term cycles. That may be the message that the lost civilizations have been trying to deliver to us and we may just be starting to get it.