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

Seeing Egypt's Pyramids from the Gods' POV

The above image was taken by NASA astronaut Terry Virts during his final day aboard the International Space Station. Not an easy feat, considering how --contrary to popular thinking-- man-made structures like Egypt's pyramids and even the Great Wall of China are incredibly difficult to detect from space with the naked eye, as they tend to blend themselves with the surrounding landscape --but that's where that shiny Quartz pyramidion came in, right?

Now, what's interesting is that our astronauts are not only on the lookout of famous historical landmarks, but that some of them seem to also be interested in the more alternative theories related to those structures. Exhibit A: The live contest astronaut Scott Kelly launched on his Twitter account, to name "3 iconic man-made structures" which are "precisely aligned" with the constellation of Orion, a more-than-obvious reference to our friend Robert Bauval's theory, which is still deemed as 'pseudoscience' by the likes of Zahi Hawass and his colleagues.

I think this a great evidence showing how, despite the stubbornness of orthodox archeologists, who refuse to look at the evidence offered by alternative historians with an objective and open mind, they have failed miserably in their attempts to suppress the public's interest in these 'historical heresies'. Indeed, Bauval's theory has managed to reach higher places than the ivory towers of Orthodoxy --about 400 km higher, give or take.

Keep up to date with more fascinating stories like this one by liking The Daily Grail's Facebook page, or by following us on Twitter.

[H/T Mashable]

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In 1938 Nicholas Winton Took a Holiday in Prague, and Saved the Lives of 669 Children

Today marks the 106th birthday of the remarkable Sir Nicholas Winton. In 1938, Winton took it upon himself to go on a 'holiday' to Prague, and through forgery, blackmail and bribes managed to send 669 children - mostly Jewish Czechs - to England before the Nazis moved in to enact their 'Final Solution'.

As an example of how many extraordinary historical stories we remain oblivious to on a daily basis, Winton's story was unknown for the best part of 50 years - not least because he himself didn't bother telling anyone about it. Even his wife, who only learned of what he had done after finding an odd scrapbook in their attic with information about the operation.

After learning of the story, in 1988 the BBC lured 'Nicky' to a taping of their show That's Life "under false pretences", and surprised him by reuniting him with a number of the children whose lives he had saved. Below you can find video of that moment.

Happy 106th good sir. A living example of how one person's actions can make an extraordinary difference - we can but only try to emulate his good works.

Graham Hancock's Magicians of the Gods

Magicians of the Gods

The release date has been set for Magicians of the Gods, the much-anticipated sequel to Graham Hancock's 1995 'alternative history' bestseller Fingerprints of the Gods - September 10 this year - and the book is now available for pre-order from Amazon US and
Amazon UK.

In a statement published at The Bookseller, Graham says:

When I published Fingerprints of the Gods in 1995 I didn’t expect the immensely enthusiastic public response to the book or the furious academic backlash that followed. Twenty years on, however, Fingerprints has weathered all attempts to ‘debunk’ it and powerful scientific evidence has emerged to support the case it makes for a great lost civilization destroyed by a global cataclysm at the end of the last Ice Age. It’s because this evidence is so compelling, and so new, with such revolutionary implications for our understanding of history, that I’ve written Magicians of the Gods.

Get in!

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Game of Groans: Egyptologist Zahi Hawass Goes Into Meltdown During Debate with Graham Hancock

Zahi Hawass goes into meltdown

Who needs HBO or Netflix when you can watch the great Zahi Hawass make a complete ass out of himself for free? In what for many alternative history buffs was going to be a more anticipated head-to-head encounter than next year's Batman vs. Superman, the former supremo of Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities had agreed on participating in a high-profile public debate with Graham Hancock, taking place on Wednesday this week at the Mena House Hotel in Egypt.

Alas, it was not to be, with Hawass going into meltdown before the debate even began. The cause? One single photograph of Robert Bauval - the man who put forward the Orion Correlation Theory about the Giza pyramids - included at the start of of Hancock's presentation. One mere glance at it was all it took for Dr. Hawass to go completely berzerk, start insulting Graham and his poor wife Santha, and storm out of the room!

(Transcript)

[...] Dr Hawass saw that one slide contained a photograph of Hancock’s colleague Robert Bauval, originator of the Orion correlation theory with whom Dr Hawass has had disagreements for many years. Dr Hawass immediately became furiously angry and began to shout at Hancock and at Hancock’s wife Santha (Santha is wearing the white dress in the video). Hawass demanded that Hancock censor his talk to remove all references to Robert Bauval and the Orion correlation theory. When Hancock explained that the alternative view of history that he was on stage to represent could not exclude the Orion correlation and therefore could not exclude Robert Bauval, Dr Hawass, again shouting, marched out of the debating room. One member of the audience who was present managed to record part of Dr Hawass’s meltdown which is the subject of this video.

Hawass' feud with Bauval is no secret. For more than 20 years the pair have been at odds over Bauval's theory, his role in the release of the first video of the 'Gantenbrink Door' within the Great Pyramid, and other associated themes. More recently though their relationship has become even more acrimonious, after the scandal concerning two Germans who allegedly extracted samples from Khufu's pyramid broke - with numerous accusations and counter-accusations between Hawass and the author of The Orion Mystery. Where it will end is something that even Edgar Cayce wouldn't be able to predict.

After Hawass' tantrum, the event organizers frantically performed a damage-control op in order to convince Zahi to return to the hall, give his talk and answer questions from the audience. He agreed on the condition that the debate with Hancock was cancelled altogether, and he even refused to watch his opponent's presentation or talk to him.

But wait, the groan-fest continues! During the Q&A, one attendant had the gall to ask Hawass for his opinion on the 10,000-year-old Turkish megalithic site Göbekli Tepe, and the impact this site might have on Egypt's archeology - for example, on the controversy over the age of the Sphinx. The man who used to be the gatekeeper of an entire nation's historical heritage, the one who had the first and last word in green-lighting any excavation on Egyptian soil, and who has belittled and mocked whoever dares to question the Great Pyramid's age or its purpose, admitted on the record that he'd never heard of Göbekli Tepe before. You'd think perhaps his National Geographic buddies would've been kind enough to give him a free subscription to their magazine, after all the *many* favors he allegedly did for them…

Herein lies one of the true roots of our inability to understand our past properly: Arrogant insularity disguised as academic specialization, and a refusal to look beyond your particular area of expertise. It was because of that exact reason Göbekli Tepe was first mistaken for a Byzantine cemetery when it was originally discovered in the 1960s; it wouldn't be until the 1990s when the late Klaus Schmidt re-visited the site and realized its monumental importance. It's people like him, and not stubborn naysayers, who will go down in history as the true searchers of Truth.

It's a good thing Zahi wasn't born during the age of the pharaohs, though. No pyramid or ancient tomb would have been big enough to accommodate that ego.

[H/T Disinfo]

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Trajan's Column: How to Build an Ancient Monument WITHOUT Alien Intervention

Here's a very sweet stop-motion animation showing how the ancient Romans may have built Trajan's column in 113 A.D. --SPOILERS: It didn't involve anti-gravity...

Trajan's column is not only a marvel of ancient ingenuity, but an incredible cylindrical 'comic strip', erected to commemorate emperor Trajan's victory over the Dacians. While the Roman empire eventually collapsed along with all its former splendor, the column stood the test of time during all these centuries, and it's still one of the most iconic monuments of what used to be the capital of the Western world.

“The campaigns were dreadful and violent,” says Roberto Meneghini, the Italian archaeologist in charge of excavating Trajan’s Forum. “Look at the Romans fighting with cutoff heads in their mouths. War is war. The Roman legions were known to be quite violent and fierce.”

Yet once the Dacians were vanquished, they became a favorite theme for Roman sculptors. Trajan’s Forum had dozens of statues of handsome, bearded Dacian warriors, a proud marble army in the very heart of Rome.

The message seems intended for Romans, not the surviving Dacians, most of whom had been sold as slaves. “No Dacians were able to come and see the column,” Meneghini says. “It was for Roman citizens, to show the power of the imperial machinery, capable of conquering such a noble and fierce people.”

A sobering reminder to alternative historians, that not all megalithic monuments should invoke an unconventional origin or engineering solution.

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Fall of the Gods: What Caused the Collapse of Teotihuacán?


Before they became an empire, the Mexica --aka the Aztecs-- were a nomadic tribe looking for a place to settle. On their way to Mexico's central valley they passed through the ruins of a monumental city; so impressed were they with the majesty and sophistication of the ancient metropolis, they concluded no mortal men could have been able to build it.

They named the place Teotihuacán: The city where Men became Gods.

To this day, and despite some impressive archeological discoveries in recent years, there's still a lot of mysteries surrounding this Pre-Columbian civilization --our remaining ignorance is best highlighted by the fact that, after all these years, we still don't know the original name of the city, and are forced to identify them with the term given by the Aztecs. We know that by 450 AD Teotihuacán was the most powerful city in all of Mesoamerica, its influence reaching even the remote nation-states of the Maya in the south-east jungles; we also know that its end was not peaceful, given the evidence that its major monuments were burned around 550 AD. But why exactly did Teotihuacán fall into ruin?

Linda Manzanilla, an anthropologist with Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México has published a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which she proposes Teotihuacan's collapse was not due external threats or natural catstrophes, but caused by internal clashes between groups with differing economic interests.

Manzanilla is basing her claims on her examination of parts of the ruins, along with an analysis of human remains and other artifacts that have been found in the area. She suggests that because of volcanic eruptions in the first and fourth centuries, people were forced to move from the southern basin, and wound up in Teotihuacan, which resulted in a mix of ethnicities. Activity markers, nutritional patterns, isotopes and ancient DNA analysis showed that the immigrants (some of whom brought specialized skills along with them) tended to live on the outskirts of the city in different neighborhoods and were given specific jobs by businessmen that helped to bolster the economy. But it also led to rivalries between the neighborhoods. As time passed, she believes that tensions arose between wealthy businessmen, neighborhood leaders and those that were part of the government. The tension was increased, she claims, by the government insisting on retaining control of all natural resources. Eventually, that tension boiled over and the result was an angry mob of people burning down major parts (administration and ritual buildings) of the city and trashing sculptures and other iconic structures, and eventually to total collapse of the city.

Manzanilla's theory supports another separate study --in which she also collaborated-- performed by academics from the Institute of Investigations in Applied Mathematics and Systems (IIMAS), who created a mathematical model which supports the theory that Teotihuacán was not ruled by a centralized authority --i.e. a king or emperor-- but rather was organized in a "co-government" represented in a collective, managerial division of the different neighborhoods conforming the city. This theory IMO might explain why recent attempts to discover the tombs of Teotihuacán's rulers have so far proved unsuccesful.

All these new ideas about Teotihuacán paint their culture more like an economic enterprise than a colonizing army. It's almost as if they were the Templars of ancient Mesoamerica --and just like their European counterparts, they attracted the envy and resentment of too many enemies.

In our modern times in which the 1% think of themselves as living deities, the ancient city where Men became Gods has now become a soberly prescient cuationary tale.

Links:

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Great Pyramid Controversy - 'Vandals' to Release Their Analysis of Samples Taken from the Famous Monument

"Kheops-Pyramid" by Nina - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5

In 2013 we wrote about a controversy regarding two amateur archaeologists who had allegedly chipped off parts of the famous cartouche of Pharaoh Khufu in the Great Pyramid. That story subsequently blew up, with Egypt laying charges against the pair - Dominique Goerlitz and Stefan Erdmann - and the Egyptian guards who were in attendance during the act.

The case has since concluded, and it is the Egyptian guards who have paid the heaviest price, with all six currently serving time in prison. Goerlitz and Erdmann escaped serving any time - by being out of the country - and continue with their research. Yesterday they put out a press release about their findings:

Notwithstanding the politics, distractions and shenanigans caused by the rash accusations made by Dr. Hawass, the samples that were collected and scientifically tested in Germany for Goerlitz and Erdmann may have solved the age-long mystery concerning the use of iron and possible advanced technologies used by the Pyramid Builders of Giza.

Goerlitz and Erdmann are not the first discoverers of iron in the Great Pyramid - but their research results finally could close the necessary chain of evidence. The particular importance lies in the proof that they can demonstrate ancient Egyptian wrought iron in the original finding context. Both, the occurrence of 18 black magnetite traces on the ceiling and the iron plate found by J.R. Hill in 1883 (metallurgically investigated by El Gayar & Jones, 1989) provide the physical proof for the use of iron in the Fourth Dynasty. The presence of magnetite and “[…] other inclusions of un-reduced iron show that the "melting" operations had been inexpertly carried out at low temperature probably between 1.000 and 1.100°C […]" (Gayar & Jones). All these archaeo-metrical evidence contradict strongly the official statements of the scholars that in the Old Kingdom people neither knew how to produce iron nor how to use it.

The evidence culled from the scientific tests also would explain the mystery of how huge multi-ton blocks were transported and, more intriguingly, how they were lifted and positioned by the Pyramid Builders of Giza, suggestive of a highly advanced technology and the use of iron equipment in the 3rd millennium BCE in Egypt. Goerlitz is preparing an experiment in which he is trying to demonstrate how the ancient Egyptians may have used their iron equipment (Congress in Lennestadt -> August 22nd-23rd, 2015).

Head over to Andreas Muller's website to see the full press release.

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Ancient Meteorite Impacts Recorded in the Oral Folklore of Indigenous Australians

Wolfe Creek Crater

A couple of years ago I mentioned some fascinating research about ancient meteorite impacts being possibly recorded in the oral folklore of indigenous Australians. The researcher who wrote that paper, Duane Hamacher, has a new paper out on the same topic in the journal Archaeoastronomy ("Recorded Accounts of Meteoritic Events in the Oral Traditions of Indigenous Australians" - PDF).

One interesting example covered in the paper is that of the Henbury crater field, located in Central Australia roughly 150km south of Alice Springs, which was the site of a meteor impact around 5000 years ago. There was a vague suggestion that the event may have been commemorated in the name of the place (chindu china waru chingi ya bu - “sun walk fire devil rock”), but it was not until recently that it was realised there was other supporting evidence - evidence which had been around for some 90 years:

When James M. Mitchell visited the site in 1921, he took an Aboriginal guide. His interest was piqued when his guide refused to go
near them, saying that it was a place where a fire “debil-debil” [devil] came out of the sky and killed everything in the vicinity. He visited the craters again in 1934 and took another Aboriginal guide with him. The guide said Aboriginal people would not camp within two miles of the craters or even venture within half a mile of them, describing them as a place where the fire-devil lived. He claimed they did not collect water that filled some of the craters, fearing the fire devil would fill them with a piece of iron. The guide said his grandfather saw the fire devil and it came from the sun. Aboriginal groups to the north of Henbury (including the Kaitish and Warramunga) hold traditions that meteors are fiery “debil-debils” that hurtle from the skies to feast upon the entrails of the recently deceased.

Link: Recorded Accounts of Meteoritic Events in the Oral Traditions of Indigenous Australians (PDF)

(h/t @djp1974)

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Ciudad Blanca: Mythical Lost City Found in Honduran Rainforest

Over at National Geographic, there's a fascinating article detailing the recent discovery of one of South America's most pervasive mysteries: The fabled 'White City' or 'City of the Monkey God', which was said to have been kept intact during the Spanish conquest due to its remote and inhospitable location in the remote valley of La Mosquitia, deep in the Honduran rainforest. the 'monkey god' is a reference to the tale of a giant buried statue of a monkey god, as was told by natives to American explorer Theodore 'Ted' Morde in 1940; Morde's alleged discovery of the mythical city was never confirmed --he refused to reveal its location, and later committed suicide in 1954.

But now thanks to modern LIDAR technology, an international expedition has managed to pinpoint a highly advanced urban center that is over a thousand years old;

Christopher Fisher, a Mesoamerican archaeologist on the team from Colorado State University, said the pristine, unlooted condition of the site was “incredibly rare.” He speculated that the cache, found at the base of the pyramid, may have been an offering.
“The undisturbed context is unique,” Fisher said. “This is a powerful ritual display, to take wealth objects like this out of circulation.”
The tops of 52 artifacts were peeking from the earth. Many more evidently lie below ground, with possible burials. They include stone ceremonial seats (called metates) and finely carved vessels decorated with snakes, zoomorphic figures, and vultures.

The most striking of the objects found so far was a stone head of a 'were-jaguar', which would seem to indicate that the inhabitants practiced some form of shamanic religion --possibly involving the use of psychedelic substances, which would trigger in the shaman the illusion of shape-shifting into a jaguar.

But more than solving once and for all the legend of the 'White City', the archeologists are now convinced this urban center is in fact part of a previously unknown civilization which thrived in the Mosquitia valley around 1000-1400 AD. Therefore, many more 'lost cities' are bound to be found --that is, if they're not razed first by the illegal deforestation of the forest.

Here's hoping the Honduran government manages to secure this incredible discovery, so that archeologists can continue finding more remnants of this previously unknown civilization. Maybe one day they'll unearth the monkey god statue after all --or at least a couple of crystal skulls...

[LINK] Exclusive: Lost City Discovered in the Honduran Rainforest

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Mohenjo-Daro: An Ancient Nuclear Mystery

If you’re not a nuclear physicist, nuclear physics is likely nothing more than a nebulous and abstract idea out of popular culture to you.  It’s easy to forgive someone for not understanding the finer points of induced fission or which elements make better nuclear fuel than others.  Frankly, the whole endeavour is better left to the experts…whenever possible.

I recently offered a post on spontaneous fission – that is, a naturally occurring nuclear reaction – and the astounding discovery made in 1972, wherein French physicist Francis Perrin found sixteen naturally occurring nuclear reactors in Central Africa that are 1.7 billion years old.  Some of you might be thinking that’s impossible.  To those people I simply point to the Sun and shake my head, though granted, that’s a slightly different kind of nuclear reaction.

The point is, it’s real.  Spontaneous fission happened, and it went on for several hundred thousand years.  There are those, however, who would have you believe that spontaneous, and even induced fission has happened many times on this little blue planet of ours over the millennia.  Though that story take a little longer to explain.

Mohenjo-Daro.  No, that’s not a mystical incantation, it’s the name of an ancient archaeological site in Sindh, Pakistan.  You may have heard of it, it’s a particularly interesting part of our history, and is connected to one of the most enigmatic lost cultures that has ever existed – The Indus Valley Civilization.

There is a lot of folklore and legend surrounding Mohenjo-Daro.  And while all of it is interesting, the most relevant bit to the current discussion is the fact that parts of the many ruins of this ancient village have undergone vitrification.  In other words, they’ve turned to glass.

Vitrification is the process by which sand, or more accurately, silica is super-heated and then cooled, which results in a glass-transition.  It’s the way all glass is made, in basic terms, though there’s a difference between deliberately fired glass for manufacturing (technically known as frit) and vitrified sand.  The latter type of glass consists of three categories:

·         Fulgurite, which is glass created via lightning strikes

·         Tekkite, which is formed from the heat generated by meteor strikes

·         And trinitite, which is the glass that results from nuclear detonations.

Now, from the opening of this post, you can probably already tell which one is popularly thought to be found at Mohenjo-Daro.  The only real difference between those three categories of vitrified sand is the different heat sources that make them.  Other than a tendency for trinitite to be radioactive (Duh!), samples of each are pretty much the same compositionally.  Silicon dioxide, which is the most common element in sand around the world, melts at roughly 1,700 degrees Celsius, so any one of those methods can get the job done.  But if there were a competition, the clear winner would be a nuclear detonation.  The heat generated through a nuclear blast can be greater than 10 million Kelvins or 9,999,726.85 degrees Celsius.[1]  By comparison, the surface of the Sun is only 5,778 Kelvins.

Yeah, that’s pretty hot.  In fact, it’s hot enough to flash-melt pure silica into glass instantly.  So the Mohenjo-Daro vitrified ruins were made by one of three potential events, it seems.  A series of major lightning strikes, a meteor strike (or perhaps more than one), or a nuclear detonation.

The Indus Valley isn’t the only place to boast vitrification mysteries though.

Scotland has over 70 examples of what are known as Vitrified Forts, such as Dun Mac Sniachan.  These are crude encampments from both the Iron Age and Early Medieval period with stone-pile walls, usually situated in easily defended formations.  The outer walls of these forts have been heat treated, so to speak, resulting in whole sections of wall where stone and brick have melted into a glass facade.  They are wondrous, and in most cases they are quite beautiful, and they make up a collection of vitrified forts that dot the landscape throughout Great Brittan.

There are other places too, such as Çatalhöyük in the southern Anatoli region of Turkey, and Alalakh in Turkey’s Hatay Province, and even the Seven Cities of Cibola in Ecuador.

You might be getting the wrong impression though.  As mentioned, it’s commonly believed that one of the three potential methods of vitrification was responsible for all of these sites, with a conspiratorial bent toward some form of nuclear energy, whether that be detonations or a fission reactor of some kind.  But this isn’t necessarily the case, nor is it likely.

Remember above, when I told you that silicone dioxide melts at around 1,700 degree Celsius?  A flame fed by natural gas can easily reach 1,600 degrees Celsius, and a bonfire with mixed fuels can approach 1,200 degrees, especially if extremely dry wood is used, perhaps pinion pine.[2]  Both of those examples are of open flame fires, but what if that flame was enclosed?  Perhaps, within a stone structure where the heat would be trapped, reflected, and amplified by the stone?  Internal structure fires, like we see in today’s buildings, can easily exceed 3,000 degrees Celsius, so it’s not unreasonable to think that temperatures sufficient to reduce stone to glass could have been achieved in Mohenjo-Daro and other locations without the use of nuclear power.

That isn’t to say that some catastrophic event didn’t take place in the Indus Valley of the time; a war, a religious or ethnic cleansing, or some really wild parties that got out of hand.  But it isn’t likely that the vitrification was achieved through a nuclear reaction of some kind, whilst leaving no traces of radiation or fission products in the surrounding environment, and most conspicuously, without levelling the entire city.

In the case of the Vitrified Forts of Scotland and elsewhere, it is believed by the experts, that it was indeed wild parties that caused the destruction, sort of.  Most archaeologists assert that these locations were deliberately destroyed by fire, either by successful invaders or by the inhabitants as a part of a ritual closing of the facility, as it were. (Ralston 2006, 143-63)

It seems, and this is purely speculative, that the parties who wish to further the argument that these examples of ancient vitrification are the result of a lost or perhaps natural nuclear process, are simply taking advantage of the popular familiarity, and simultaneous ignorance, that we all possess on the topic of nuclear physics.  In reality there are simpler explanations to be considered, even though the alternatives may be more exciting.


[1] Glenn Elert. Temperature of a Nuclear Explosion - The Physics Factbook http://hypertextbook.com/facts/1999/SimonFung.shtml

[2] J.T. Barett. How Hot Is a Bonfire? Demand Media http://classroom.synonym.com/hot-bonfire-8770.html