Prehistory

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A few posts ago I wrote about an article by physicist Carlo Rovelli, who contends that science is not about certainty. At best, it’s our best understanding at present of how the world and universe work. This is by no means only true of physics. The history of the human race is also very mysterious. Scientists stying DNA have reportedly tracked all the DNA they’ve studied back to one female ancestor some 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. Which seems to mean that the human race, as we now know it, must have originated about that time. If that is approximately true, then what have humans been doing all this time? History, as recorded in writing, only goes back 5,000 years.

The mainstream archaeological view is that humans wee stuck in the Stone Age for a considerable length of time, and it wasn’t until about 6,000 years ago, more or less, that we see the beginnings of civilization with the Sumerians. And the Sumerians seemed to suddenly acquire an almost modern civilization, with many of the practices and institutions we now have, like agriculture, towns, writing, a law code, etc. Did none of those things exist before the Sumerians? There are certainly legends suggesting they did. Legends like Atlantis and Mu, and in ancient Indian writings, descriptions of things that sound very much like modern aircraft.

But we don’t have to decide whether we believe or disbelieve in Atlantis. There are strange enough things from historical times that we don’t understand. One of these is the Great Sphinx.

Mainstream Egyptologists believe that the Sphinx was carved from bedrock at about the same time as the Great Pyrmaid was built, generally agreed to be a little prior to 2500 BCE. That view received a shock about 20 years ago when Robert Schoch, a geologist, studied the Sphinx, and concluded that the erosion on it (very prominent toward its rear) was water rather than wind erosion. This means that the Sphinx was carved either before or during a time when there was a great deal of rainfall in Egypt. There’s some debate about just when the climate there changed, but the most recent date I’ve seen (and it’s by no means certain), is that there were at least occasional periods of heavy rain as late as about 2300 BCE. The actual date may be quite a bit earlier.

Arcaheologists dispute this idea, because they’ve found no evidence that the technology existed to carve such a large-scale monument before 2500 BCE, or so. But this overlooks the fact that we don’t really know how the pyrmaids, and particularly the Great Pyramid, were built, to say nothing of other Egyptian monuments, or other monuments in a lot of different parts of the world. Two pyramids were supposedly built before the Great Pyramid. One of these is the Bent Pyramid, the other was also imperfect. The Great Pyramid is possibly the most impressive monument in the world, not only because of its size, but because of the precision with which it was built. It is oriented almost perfectly to north, east, west and south, with the length of the bases on each side almost exactly equal, and oriented almost precisely on a latitudinal line, almost precisely at the point where lower Egypt begins, that it includes the mathematical concepts of pi and the Golden Section (both usually thought to have been formulated much later), and seems to also be a scale model of the northern hemisphere of the world. Its orientation isn’t perfect, but the errors in it are extremely small. How did the Egyptians create something with such precision, which needed extremely accurate knowledge, as well as sophisticated tools?

Mainstream archaeology has thought that Egypt had no iron, which seems unlikely, in view of the amount of stone that had to be cut, and very precisely cut too. And the stone with which it was built were often very large, of many tons apiece. The so-called King’s Chamber, inside the pyramid, is roofed with slabs weighing about 70 tons apiece. How were these moved and put in place?

These are by no means the only unanswered questions about ancient Egypt. There are temples (for instance, the temple in front of the Great Sphinx) made of even larger stones, of hundreds of tons apiece. To make this example even more mysterious, the temple is built within the depression where the Sphinx lies. Since it was carved from bedrock, most of it lies below ground level. We now have cranes that might be able, with difficulty and long preparation time, to move stones of that size, but they wouldn’t have sufficient space to do it within the area where the Sphinx is. At this point we can theorize about what kind of technology Egypt may have had that made it possible to not only conceive, but carry out such impossible-seeming feats. The simple fact is, we don’t know how it was done.

Not that the above exhausts the mysteries of ancient Egypt or other parts of the world. Graham Hancock addresses this and other mystries in Fingerprists of the Gods, and other books, and so do a number of other people. The genre of historic and prehistoric mysteries goes back some distance. Perhaps the first, and best-known mention of Atlantis comes from Plato, who seems to treat it as historical fact, though he may possibly have intended it as a fable. But the famous Greek historian, Herodotus, records having visited Egypt in the probably the 4th century BCE, and having conversed with an Egyptian priest, who said that Egypt’s history extended back 30,000 years. Historians and archaeologists have been reluctant to believe this, but it’s possible that the priest actually knew what he was talking about.

An interesting discovery by Robert Bauval, also in the 1990’s, was that the Great Pyramid and the other two pyramids close to it, are aligned in a way that mirrors the belt of the constellation of Orion. That constellation was identified with the Egyptian god Osiris, but more interesting than that is that Bauval did computer modeling of just how the constellation appreared to Egyptians of that area in different eras. The appearance that most closely matched the alignment of the three pyramids (and other monuments of the complex, which completed the representation) was dated to about 10, 500 BCE. If that’s accurate, it’s approximately the time that the last Ice Age had either ended or was in the process of ending. This could either be a coincidence, or an accurate memory of how the sky looked in that era. There’s certainly evidence that the Egyptians knew a great deal about astronomy in order to so accurately align the Great Pyramid, so I think we have to believe there’s a possibility that they DID in fact know what the constellations looked like in that remote epoch.

Egyptians were by no means the only ancient peoples with astronomical knowledge. Almost everyone knows about Stonehenge, and how the light hits the central part of it at certain times. Fewer may know about one of the pyramids of ancient Mexico, where the light hitting the pyramid on a certain day (probably the Spring Equinox) produces the illusion of a gigantic serpent on the pyramid. Ancient people seem to have known a great deal more than we now give them credit for.

There’s much more to say on this subject, but I’ll continue with it in later posts.

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