Fascinating article today from our good friend Alan Boyle at Cosmic Log on the legends regarding the "walking" statues of Easter Island, and how they may have had some basis in truth. Boyle discusses a recent National Geographic feature in which researchers attempted to move a 5-ton Moai replica vertically, rather than by sliding it horizontally along the ground:
The researchers found that the statue's fat belly produced a forward-falling center of gravity that facilitated vertical transport. A crew of as few as 18 people could use ropes to rock the statue back and forth, and forward... The vertical-transport trick worked with four rope-pullers on each side, plus 10 people to pull on the statue from behind, as if they were holding back a dog that was straining forward on a walk.
"It's really unnerving and beautiful, all at the same time," Hunt said.
...The statue-walking experiment alone doesn't prove that the entire scenario put forward by Hunt and Lipo is true, but it's consistent with the claims in the islanders' oral tradition that the statues "walked" down the road in ancient times. It also provides an alternate explanation for the ruined statues that littered the roads: When you lose control of the ropes, that's what happens, and you don't have any good way to move the broken pieces.
Australian fans of Graham Hancock, here's a treat for you, coming later this year: in October Entheogenesis Australis & Lost Tribes are presenting "The 2012 Origins of Consciousness Tour: An Exploration into Psychedelics, Spirituality & Ancient Civilizations", with featured guests Graham Hancock, Dennis McKenna (co-explorer with and brother to Terence McKenna), and Mitch Schultz (of the recent documentary DMT: The Spirit Molecule).
What role have psychedelics played in the evolution of human imagination? What is the link between mystical experiences, neuroscience and parallel dimensions? What was the lost civilization destroyed in the last Ice Age? Will we meet the same fate or are we on the cusp of making the great leap forward into an evolved consciousness?
Join Graham Hancock, Dennis McKenna and Mitch Schultz as we unravel some of the BIG questions and take you on an inspirational journey to reconnect with our sacred past, help us understand our present challenges and work towards transforming the future.
The tour will be a fascinating combination of keynote talks, panel discussions and Q&As to be held:
Melbourne, 13th October
Brisbane, 18th October
Sydney, 20th October
Looking forward to it!
There's been plenty of controversial theories in recent decades about the possibility of advanced astronomical knowledge in ancient Egypt. Here's another one to add to the list, courtesy of arxiv.org: "Did the ancient Egyptians record the period of the eclipsing binary Algol - the Raging one?":
The eclipses in binary stars give precise information of orbital period changes. Goodricke discovered the 2.867 days period in the eclipses of Algol in the year 1783. The irregular orbital period changes of this longest known eclipsing binary continue to puzzle astronomers. The mass transfer between the two members of this binary should cause a long-term increase of the orbital period, but observations over two centuries have not confirmed this effect. Here, we present evidence indicating that the period of Algol was 2.850 days three millenia ago. For religious reasons, the ancient Egyptians have recorded this period into the Cairo Calendar, which describes the repetitive changes of the Raging one. Cairo Calendar may be the oldest preserved historical document of the discovery of a variable star.
Let the Dogon arguments begin all over again...
Update: More mainstream coverage of the paper via this Discovery.com article.
Last week I mentioned that former Egyptian archaeological supremo Dr Zahi Hawass had attacked 'hidden history' author Robert Bauval on the front page of the Egyptian daily Al Ahram. Bauval has now returned serve, bringing up the controversial old topic of whether Hawass PhD was funded by New Age organization, The Association of Research and Enlightenment (ARE), the executive branch of the Edgar Cayce Foundation. The allegations were first made in the biography of Cayce's son Hugh Lynn, written by A. Robert Smith:
In Robert Smith’s book it is further claimed that the reason for helping Hawass get his PhD was for Hawass “to advance within the [Egyptian] government to further his own career and open doors for Hugh Lynn [Cayce]’s project, [and] he could do it best on the wing of higher education at an American Ivy League college.” (Smith, Chapter 19, p. 250)
But many years later, in 1998 to be precise, both Hawass and Lehner denied that Hugh Lynn Cayce had been instrumental in helping Zahi Hawass obtain a Fulbright Scholarship to study for a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. They made official statements to that effect in the KMT Journal (volume 9, Number 1, Spring 1998, pp.5-6).
For another take on this most recent controversy involving Hawass, see also Philip Coppens' latest article "A New Future for Egyptology".
I came across this cool infographic yesterday on Twitter, which is taken from a New Scientist article from 2010. Click to go through to the detailed image:
French caves are known for their prehistoric rock art. But also marked on the walls around the paintings are 26 symbols that have appeared again and again at French sites across 25,000 years of prehistory. Early signs suggest that many of these symbols crop up in other parts of the world too, leading some to wonder if symbolic communication arose with early humans.
Funnily enough, the next thing I clicked on was a link to the new trailer for Ridley Scott's Prometheus, which features a plotline in which common symbols are found in prehistoric cultures around the world (an "invitation" from an alien race). I thought I'd include it below, simply for your own enjoyment of my fun little synchronicity.
At least if we decode some ancient pictograms in future from an alien race, we'll be more circumspect about accepting the invitation...
I recently mentioned a newly-released book on a mysterious megalithic site, The Georgia Guidestones: America's Most Mysterious Monument, by Raymond Wiley and KT Prime (foreword by Graham Hancock). For those of you who, like me, are stuck on another continent, the following video tour by one of the authors of the book is sure to be of help in picturing and better understanding the structure:
You can download an inexpensive eBook version of Wiley and Prime's book from the official website, or grab a physical copy from Amazon US or Amazon UK. And of course, check out my own essay from Darklore, Beyond the Apocalypse: Myths and Legends Concerning the Georgia Guidestones", which I think offers some interesting insights into the mythology behind the monument.
You might also like...
Let's party like it's 1999: former Egyptian antiquity supremo Zahi Hawass has rekindled a decade-old antagonism with 'alternative history' author Robert Bauval. On the front page of the top Arabic daily newspaper Al Ahram for Thursday April 12, Hawass, ex-Minister of Antiquities in Egypt, and Farouk Hosni, ex-Minister of Culture, claimed* that Bauval's next book, co-written with Ahmed Osman (Breaking the Mirror of Heaven, to be released August 15), attributes Egyptian civilisation to the Jewish people. Bauval notes on his blog that...
Hawass further claimed that my parents were ‘Belgians Jews’ from Alexandria — a claim clearly intended to be derogatory, implying that being a ‘Jew’ explains the reason for me writing this book (as an act of ‘vengeance’) and that, in any case, being a ‘Jew’ I cannot be believed.
In response to this, I have shown proof on my blog that such claims are untrue. My parents were Catholic Christians, and they were baptised (as I was) in the churches in Alexandria.
It is not the first time that Zahi Hawass has used the ‘Jews’ to try and discredit his opponents. Since 1991 Hawass has played this ‘Jews’ card against his opponents. In 2009 Hawass went as far as accusing the Jews of ruling the world and controlling the USA.
...But the amazing irony is that Hawass’s recent outburst evoking ‘Jews’ and his obvious desire to show that he ‘protecting Egyptian civilization’ against ‘Jews’ may, in fact, be a smoke screen to his own very involved relationship with American Jews – something that today in Egypt would definitely not go down well in the present political climate. It is well known in academic circles that Hawass obtained his PhD in America (at the University of Pennsylvania) with his tutor and assessor of his thesis being Dr. David Silverman, who is Jewish. Dr. Silverman, and his university, have been granted long-tern concessions in Egypt by Hawass, and the latter and Dr. Silverman have collaborated on many projects and even wrote a book together. It is also well-known that Hawass has ‘facilitated’ the Edgar Cayce Foundation of America to work at the Giza Pyramids many times, and that the principal funders were Joseph Jahoda and Joseph Schor, two promiment Jewish American businessmen.
Let it be very clear to everyone that I do not hold any anti-Semitic sentiments whatsoever. And I do not consider it either a detriment or an advantage to collaborate on projects with Jews – or Christians or Muslims for that matter. Indeed religion, as far as I am concerned, does not and should not be a factor at all in Egyptology or any other endeavour. But we may wonder what Zahi Hawass is playing at by constantly attacking his opponents by claiming that they are ‘Jews’. There is, excuse the pun, something not quite Kosher in his behaviour.
I've written previously about the tangled web surrounding Zahi Hawass's involvement with this controversial topic. In this case, one wonders how much of this attack is political positioning by Hawass, given the former's close ties to former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and rumours of Zahi's involvement with Zionist businessmen, versus the recent rise of Islamist power-brokers in the Egyptian political system. In any case, it's not exactly the type of publicity that Robert Bauval would want in his home country.
* I haven't seen the English version of the article, so am going by Robert Bauval's translation here
Dr Zahi Hawass, once-king of Egyptian archaeology via his position as the (former) Minister of State for Antiquities, may face charges of breaking Egypt's antiquities law:
General Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud on Monday referred charges of wasting public money and stealing Egyptian antiquities against Zahi Hawass, former minister of state for antiquities to the Public Fund Prosecution office.
Nour El-Din Abdul-Samad, Director of Archeological Sites, had filed the accusations against Hawass, and requested that the objects in question be returned to the Egyptian Museum.
The Public Funds Prosecution office also received other charges accusing Hawass of wasting public money and exposing Egyptian antiquities to stealing in collaboration with former regime members.
Hawass is accused of sealing a deal with the American Geographical Society to display rare Egyptian antiquities in exhibitions across the United States and Australia, violating the law of protecting antiquities.
Hawass admitted in a television talk show that he had a 17 million dollar deal with the American Geographical Society with regard to a Tutankhamun exhibition to raise donations for Suzanne Mubarak's association, wife of former president Hosni Mubarak. Suzanne Mubarak's association was a private association not a state body, and as such Hawass was not legally allowed to use his position as a state minister to raise funds for it.
The charges relate to Hawass agreeing to transfer and display 143 objects from the Egyptian Museum to Washington DC in 2003. The antiquities have yet to be returned to the museum.
Beyond the irony of Hawass possibly being charged for sending antiquities away from Egypt (given his long-running crusade to have stolen artefacts repatriated), I'm not sure how much of this is simply political point-scoring. These kinds of exhibitions would have had plenty of value - from education through to inspiring tourism - and it would be sad for Hawass to be convicted for simply spreading the Egypt love around. Things like the money going to the Susan Mubarak association may be more problematic for him though....
A trailer for a subject I didn't know existed: Portugese megaliths. Timelapse and megaliths will look good no matter where they were filmed though...something about the combination of cosmic depth, the relentless march of time, and the permanence of megaliths, that just works beautifully together.