Where we attempt to fill you in on everything they forgot to teach you at school

Neanderthals were Ancient Mariners

Well this little piece of news deserves to be making more waves (no pun intended): Neanderthals were ancient mariners, crossing the Mediterranean in boats 100,000 years ago:

Neanderthals lived around the Mediterranean from 300,000 years ago. Their distinctive "Mousterian" stone tools are found on the Greek mainland and, intriguingly, have also been found on the Greek islands of Lefkada, Kefalonia and Zakynthos. NeanderthalThat could be explained in two ways: either the islands weren't islands at the time, or our distant cousins crossed the water somehow.

Now, George Ferentinos of the University of Patras in Greece says we can rule out the former. The islands, he says, have been cut off from the mainland for as long as the tools have been on them.

Ferentinos compiled data that showed sea levels were 120 metres lower 100,000 years ago, because water was locked up in Earth's larger ice caps. But the seabed off Greece today drops down to around 300 metres, meaning that when Neanderthals were in the region, the sea would have been at least 180 metres deep (Journal of Archaeological Science, DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.01.032).

Ferentinos thinks Neanderthals had a seafaring culture for tens of thousands of years. Modern humans are thought to have taken to the seas just 50,000 years ago, on crossing to Australia.

The journeys to the Greek islands from the mainland were quite short - 5 to 12 kilometres - but according to Thomas Strasser of Providence College in Rhode Island, the Neanderthals didn't stop there. In 2008 he found similar stone tools on Crete, which he says are at least 130,000 years old. Crete has been an island for some 5 million years and is 40 kilometres from its closest neighbour - suggesting far more ambitious journeys.

Strasser agrees Neanderthals were seafaring long before modern humans, in the Mediterranean at least. He thinks early hominins made much more use of the sea than anyone suspects, and may have used the seas as a highway, rather than seeing them as a barrier. But the details remain lost in history.

Sacred Sounds at Newgrange

This week's news story about the integration of acoustics into ancient sacred sites brought to mind a passage in Paul Devereux's wonderful book The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia (available from Amazon US and Amazon UK), which I had the privilege of publishing in an updated edition a few years ago. In this short section, Paul speculates freely about the possible use of acoustics at a site such as Newgrange, in Ireland.

On stones in the passage and within the chamber are engraved lozenges, spirals, triple spirals and other form constants. Outside, there is an entrance stone in front of the passage entrance which is richly carved with similar patterns, as are three of the exterior kerbstones to the mound. Are these markings the equivalent of those in the Chumash shaman’s cave? Did a calendrical, ritualised vigil take place here, of mythic significance to the builders of Newgrange, where the ancient Lords of Light are said in legend to have dwelt? Did some Neolithic shaman or shamanic elite take a mind-altering infusion and then sit within the inky blackness of the awesome chamber, perhaps amongst the ancestral bones, intoning deep, echoing chants until the very walls reverberated, waiting to receive the ecstatic golden blast of soul-searing solar light at the dark turning of the year?

We may never know for certain, but the evidence leads to interesting
speculation. The structure was clearly related to midwinter solar astronomy, the entoptic-style rock art there does speak of altered mind states, and acoustical tests conducted within the chamber in 1994 by Robert G. Jahn, myself and colleagues showed that the resonant frequency of the Newgrange chamber was 110 Hz (cycles per second), within the baritone vocal range. We could speculate further, and suggest that chanting at the resonant frequency of the chamber might itself “drive” the brain and help induce trance states – initial EEG studies are currently indicating that the 110 Hz frequency does cause alterations in brain activity. And we can stretch speculation to guesswork. Inside the chamber there are large stone dishes; if these had been filled with water on ritual occasions and hot stones placed in it, clouds of steam would be produced creating a “sweat-lodge” type of environment (there is evidence of this kind of practice in early Ireland). The droplets of moisture in the steam would have vibrated with the resonant chanting within the chamber. Experiments have shown that in such a case water droplets (or other aerosol components) floating in air assemble into wave patterns reflecting the frequency of the sound, and these show up when subjected to a lightbeam. We can therefore picture the solstitial sunbeam cutting a vivid shaft of light through the steamy interior of the Newgrange chamber revealing shifting light and dark patterns relating to the 110 Hz frequency of the sound. Interestingly, these patterns would be similar to the sort of rock art motifs we find at Newgrange. The acoustically-driven steam patterns would probably also have assisted the “flicker” mechanism in the sunlight that Dronfield has found evidence for. In this scenario we can see the combination of at least five mind-altering techniques: the use of a hallucinogen, be it psilocybin mushrooms, an ergot derivative, or henbane, taken at the start of a long initial period of sensory-deprivation in the silent blackness of the chamber, followed by prolonged resonant chanting in a sweat-lodge type of hot steamy atmosphere, culminating in powerful flickering light.

Paul has of course immersed himself in this very topic - he wrote a book titled Stone Age Soundtracks, and has written articles examining 'archaeoacoustics' - so while he's speculating, it is informed speculation.

The Long Trip itself is a great book - if, like me, you're interested in both ancient cultures and the human mind, it's really a must-have for your collection (and of course, purchasing a copy helps support both Paul and The Daily Grail). You can grab a copy right now by ordering from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Graham Hancock and Turbowolf Interview

I recently posted Part 1 and Part 2 of a chat between British band Turbowolf and 'hidden history' researcher Graham Hancock. The final two parts of the interview have now been posted at YouTube, and can be viewed below:

Also, for the convenience of those who haven't watched the first two instalments yet, here's the entire interview embedded as a playlist:

Graham Hancock and Turbowolf (Part 2)

Here's part two of Graham Hancock talking to British rock band Turbowolf (I posted part one last week):

The Georgia Guidestones

In Darklore Volume IV I wrote a piece on the enigmatic 'Georgia Guidestones' titled "Beyond the Apocalypse" (available as a free PDF download from the Darklore website, or in HTML form here at TDG), in which I pointed out the probable origin of the monument's construction in Masonic stories and myths about the transmission of human knowledge to survivors of apocalyptic events. If my article made you hungry for more information about the Guidestones, a new book may be just what you're looking for: "The Georgia Guidestones: America's Most Mysterious Monument", by Raymond Wiley and KT Prime (and featuring a foreword from Graham Hancock).

The Georgia Guidestones are a collection of standing stones near Elberton, Georgia. Built in 1980, they are primarily composed of six slabs of granite: one central pillar, four "major" stones that fan out from the center, and a capstone. The Georgia GuidestonesThe capstone has engravings on all four of its sides in four different ancient languages, all of which read, "Let these be guidestones to an Age of Reason," when translated. The major stones are each engraved on both sides, and each side contains text in one of eight modern languages asserting the same ten guidelines.

Those guidelines have proven extremely controversial, causing speculation and rumors of conspiracy that go far beyond northeast Georgia.

Conspiracy theorists surmise a global plot on the part of a group of shadowy men to subjugate and oppress the world's population and create a "new world order." Others believe that the man behind the monument was a Rosicrucian, and that the stones are representative of that group's magical manifesto. Some people even believe that it is a landing site for an alien spacecraft of some kind. At the heart of this confusion is the missing piece of the puzzle: who was the mystery man who started the entire chain of events?

Georgia native Raymond Wiley was interviewed for The History Channel's Brad Meltzer's Decoded program about the Guidestones and is a principal expert for a feature length documentary currently in production. With local writer KT Prime he has written the definitive account of America's most famous megalithic monument.

Note that Graham Hancock's foreword and Chapter 1 of the book are available freely at Scribd if you want to 'try before you buy'. I've embedded the sample material below:

The Georgia Guidestones: America’s Most Mysterious Monument

Pick up a copy of The Georgia Guidestones from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Graham Hancock and Turbowolf (Part 1)

Our good friend Graham Hancock seems to be jumping back on the hidden history wagon with a vengeance lately. Hot on the heels of the extended interview I posted last week, comes this chat between Graham and the British rock band Turbowolf at the Roman Baths not far from GH's residence:

The video is the first of a four part interview, which I'll continue to post here at TDG as they are released, given so many readers are fans of Graham's work.

Graham Hancock on Ancient Mysteries

'Alternative history' author Graham Hancock revisits his old stomping ground in this in-depth (68 minutes) interview discussing ancient mysteries:

Graham Hancock discusses his views on the following topics:

1 - Precession of the equinoxes
2 - Bringers of wisdom from the Heavens
3 - Monuments aligning to 10,500BC
4 - What happened in 10,500BC?
5 - The Mystery of the Pyramids
6 - The Sarcophagus
7 - Dating Giza
8 - Hidden Halls of Records
9 - Structures on Mars
10 - Cataclysm of Mars
11 - A species with amnesia
12 - Where is the Lost Civilization?

For more detailed discussion of these topics, see Graham's related book, Fingerprints of the Gods (Amazon US and Amazon UK).

Standing with Stones Download

I've mentioned the excellent Standing with Stones documentary previously here on TDG, but wanted to let everyone know that it is now available as a direct internet download as well, for just £8.99/$US14. Worth every dollar too - not academic, and not New Age, it's more a relaxed drive around the British Isles and Ireland with a friend who knows a bit about megalithic history and fills you in as you travel about. Host Rupert Soskin is happy to offer a theory here and there, but makes clear that it's pretty much all speculative. Even at two and a quarter hours in length, it still really skims the surface of this fascinating, but oft-neglected part of the history of that region. Would be in my top five recommended purchases for the year.

Produced and directed by documentary film-maker Michael Bott and presented by naturalist and explorer Rupert Soskin, it is a first-hand account from Rupert of a journey taken through the British Isles and Ireland, starting at the tip of Cornwall and ending on the Scottish Isles, visiting over 100 Neolithic and Bronze age monuments en route.

Beautiful to look at (the British Isles have seldom looked this good) and managing (we think) to be both enlightening and entertaining, the film explores the diversity and wonder of these extraordinary enigmatic structures. It also looks at some of the theories and nonsenses which attach to them.

The entire project was conceived and realised (as in filmed, edited, music specially composed and CGI graphics created) entirely by just us two guys with a camera, a camper van, two very understanding wives - and a passion for stones. But though we may have had a boys own adventure, we believe we've also produced a superb broadcast quality movie. Rupert has a deep knowledge of his subject, but also a refreshingly open-minded attitude to the who, the how and especially the why of the stones' construction.

You can download a free five-minute sample from the feature, but really...I recommend just paying the money and enjoying the whole thing. Absolutely wonderful.

Pyramid Doors in 2012

Discovery News has an update on the investigation of the "doors" at the end of the "air shafts" emanating from the "Queen's Chamber" in the Great Pyramid (wow, I had to put quotes around three different things describing elements of the pyramid, due to us not really knowing what they actually were). The unrest in Egypt over the past year had brough a halt to the robotic exploration project, but the Djedi Team are now keen to get back to it in the post-Zahi era:

Now the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), once led by the controversial yet charismatic Zahi Hawass, is slowly returning to granting permits for excavations and archaeological research.

"As with other missions, we have had to resubmit our application to be allowed to continue. Gantenbrink's DoorWe are currently waiting for the various committees to formalise the approval," project mission manager Shaun Whitehead, of the exploration company Scoutek UK, told Discovery News. "Once we're allowed to continue, I have no doubt that we can complete our work in 2012," he added.

...Equipped with a unique range of tools which also included a miniature "beetle" robot that can fit through a 0.74-inch diameter hole, a coring drill, and a miniaturized ultrasonic device that can tap on walls and listen to the response to help determine the thickness of the stone, the Djedi team was ready to continue the pyramid's exploration last August. But the political turn of events in Egypt halted the project.

Whitehead is confident that the robot will reveal much more once the team is allowed to resume their research. "The plan is the same as it always was. We will completely survey the shafts leading from the Queens Chamber and look beyond the first and second blocking stones in at least one shaft," Whitehead said.

Also: according to the article, the red markings seen on the other side of "Gantenbrink's Door" may be "hieratic numerical signs that record the length of the shaft".

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Did Leonardo Fake the Shroud of Turin?

Is the Shroud of Turin - the alleged burial shroud of Jesus Christ - actually a fake created by Leonardo da Vinci (using a primitive mode of 'photography' no less)? That's the question asked a number of years ago by 'hidden history' authors Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince in their book Turin Shroud: How Leonardo Da Vinci Fooled History (Amazon US / UK). Now, Clive and Lynn describe a new discovery which they think supports their case:

Note that, at the time of writing this, the Amazon US version is being offered at the crazy price of just a couple of dollars.

Clive and Lynn also have a piece in the upcoming Darklore release, drawing on information in their recent book The Forbidden Universe: The Occult Origins of Science and the Search for the Mind of God (Amazon US / UK).