News Briefs 06-01-2015

Happy Women's Little Christmas.

Quote of the Day:

You're not crazy and it's not your fault.

Derrick Jensen

Ancient Maps Reveal a Thread of Truth Weaved Through Antiquity

Dulcert 1339 map

Have you ever gotten directions from a friend, to a place you’ve never been?  Of course you have; everyone has.  Which means that we’ve all been given, at some point or another, a crudely drawn map, intended to guide us along the landscape to our desired destination.

Now imagine trying to make an accurate map of an entire coast line.  Or of entire continents.  Or the whole world!  It’s a pretty massive undertaking.  The map maker doesn’t even have the benefit of ever having travelled those coastlines and country boundaries.  He or she is flying blind.  So how do they do it?

As discussed previously, mapmaking – or cartography – is a millennium old art.  People have been trying to create a visual representation of the areas in which they travel since before the 7th millennium BCE.  The oldest surviving maps are the Babylonian World Maps of the 9th century BCE, and, while beautiful, they aren’t exactly known for their accuracy (according to these maps the world consists of only Babylon on the Euphrates and Assyria).  But as time went on, mapmakers got better at creating consistently accurate drawings of their surroundings.  They developed universal systems for measuring distances, plotting directions, and estimating the shape of coastlines and continents.  Those systems are as complicated as they are useful.

But it’s not like every map ever made is truly an original work.  Most maps, especially charts out of antiquity, are reproductions or expansions of earlier maps.  Experience with a given chart would determine just how accurate it was, and once the most accurate among the available charts was found, it would then be used as the standard for the area it described.  From there, cartographers could copy it and use it as a component in a larger chart that included the region it depicted.

There are some famous charts, namely the Piri Re’is and the Dulcert 1339 map.  In both cases these are portolan charts, meaning they are nautical maps that use compass bearings as the foundation of their measurement system.  The Piri Re’is chart is widely considered to be the most accurate portolan chart of the 16th century.  It’s a military world map that was created by an Ottoman admiral and cartographer, after whom the chart was named.  It is unique in that it is the earliest chart to show accurate depictions of the coastlines of Africa, as well as the positions of several Caribbean islands, such as the Canary Islands.  It also shows an astonishingly accurate depiction of the east coast of South America, even going so far as to position the new world correctly with reference to the west coast of Africa.

It’s also thought unique for another rather compelling reason…it apparently shows an accurate depiction of the coast of Queen Maud Land.  What is Queen Maud Land, you ask?  Well, Queen Maud Land is the northern edge of the Antarctic Peninsula.  Now, this wouldn’t be as wondrous as it is, were it not for the fact that the Antarctica Peninsula hadn’t been discovered or explored until 1820 at the earliest.  And for the fact that the coastline depicted is currently under a few hundred feet of ice.

So, um…how did an Ottoman admiral know about it, much less accurately draw it on a map in 1513, just twenty-one years following Christopher Columbus’ bumbling discovery of the Americas?

Piri Reis World Map

According to scholars, the Dulcert 1339 portolan chart (mentioned above) – which is an early Medieval chart of the Mediterranean ocean and surrounding lands, and which is thought to have been created by a classical Italian cartographer named Angelino Dulcert (known alternately as Angelino de Dalorto and/or Angelino de Dulceto) – seems to show a reasonably accurate representation of Australia, of all things.  To remind you, Australia wasn’t discovered, according to our history textbooks, until 1606, but yet, the landmass of Australia was included in this map, drawn by an Italian, and in other early European maps three hundred years before that.

How is that possible?

There are those, namely the famous Finnish-Swedish historian of cartography Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld, who believe that these early maps are not of the medieval period at all, but are copies of charts from much, much older cartographic traditions.  He analysed the mathematics of these maps, and others, and came to the conclusion that their content, accuracy, and structure was notably superior to the charts of classical scholars such as Ptolemy and Eratosthenes, but that they employed the same elements in their construction.[1]

Nordenskiöld isn’t alone though, as you might imagine.  From his work has sprung strong argument, from people such as Arlington Mallery and Charles Hapgood, that these maps are evidence of an advanced culture having circumnavigated the globe long before Ferdinand Magellan.[2]  Of course, with such a fantastical claim comes the scorn of the academic community, and their criticisms are not without merit (especially when you include Erik von Daniken as an ally of Hapgood and Mallery), but none yet have fully refuted Hapgood’s nor Nordenskiöld’s analyses.

So is there a middle ground?  Can we not accept that there is more to these maps than modern cartographers want to admit, while not yet asserting that they prove the case for a pre-historic civilization?  As mentioned, maps from antiquity are almost always copies of earlier maps, enhanced and expanded, correcting the mistakes of previous generations.  Piri Re’is and Dulcert 1339 are no exception…the question is from what older maps did the Ottoman and Italian cartographers copy their greatest works?

 


[1] Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld, Facsimile-Atlas to the Early History of Cartography with Reproductions of the Most Important Maps Printed in the XV and XVI Centuries, trans. Johan Adolf Ekelöf (Stockholm, 1889; reprinted, New York: Dover, 1973).

[2] Charles H. Hapgood. Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings: Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age. Illinois 1997, Adventures Unlimited Press (Originally 1966).

 

Listen to the 3000-Year-Old Trumpets of King Tutankhamun

Among the treasures found when Pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb was opened in 1923 were two ornate trumpets, one made of silver and the other of bronze. In 1939, BBC radio broadcast the sound of the trumpets to listeners around the world. And, thanks to the internet, now you can too. Hopefully their sound doesn't summon up any ancient Egyptian demons to enact foul curses upon those listening. Hey, wait a minute, BBC broadcast the sound in 1939...

(via @MattStaggs)

News Briefs 05-01-2015

And we're back for another year! Welcome to 2015, Grailers...

Thanks @djp1974.

Quote of the Day:

Let our New Year's resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.

Goran Persson

The Top 50 Most Popular Daily Grail Stories of 2014 (#25 - #1)

Top 50 Daily Grail Articles of 2014, 25 - 1

Yesterday I posted the first half of a list of the top 50 most popular stories on The Daily Grail in 2014. Today, here's part two: #25 down to #1:

  1. A Gnostic Vision of the Conquest: A Review of Graham Hancock's War God
  2. The Shape-Shifting Son of God
  3. Sight Unseen: Humans Are Able to See Infrared Light (Really)
  4. UFOs in Norway: Are the 'Hessdalen Lights' Sparks From a Giant Geological Battery?
  5. Mysterious Forces: Exploring the Poltergeist Phenomenon
  6. Does Quantum Physics Imply That You Are Immortal?
  7. A Reality Beyond Death?
  8. Have Russians Discovered Ancient 'Super-Megalithic' Architecture in Siberia?
  9. Are Super-Intelligent Aliens Hiding Within Our Atoms?
  10. Researchers Use ESP to Make Thousands of Dollars on the Stock Market
  11. Brian Dunning on the Joe Rogan Experience: A Masterclass in Bad Skepticism
  12. The Last Alchemist
  13. Do Humans Have the Ability to Sense the Future? This Survey of Experiments So Far Says....Yes!
  14. Telepathy Between the Dead
  15. The Mysterious Celestial Spheres of the Ancient Mughal Empire
  16. Moonwalking? Strange Silhouette on Lunar Surface Goes Viral
  17. Synchronicity or Coincidence? Parapsychologist Dean Radin Tells a Strange Personal Tale
  18. AWAREness Beyond Death?
  19. This UFO is Real, According to a Government Agency
  20. Magic Mushrooms were the Inspiration for Frank Herbert's Science Fiction Epic 'Dune'
  21. Visions of the Past - How Far Should We Go in 'Restoring' Ancient Monuments?
  22. Our Alien DNA
  23. UFOs Finally Turn Up in Documents Leaked by Edward Snowden
  24. Did Roger Ebert Have a Deathbed Vision?
  25. Scientific Research Suggests We Unconsciously React to Events Up to 10 Seconds Before They Happen

To all the Grailers out there: thanks for your support in 2014, and best wishes for a fun and fascinating 2015!

The Top 50 Most Popular Daily Grail Stories of 2014 (#50 - #26)

Top 50 Daily Grail Articles of 2014, 50 - 26

Here at The Daily Grail we certainly don't measure the worth of a story by its popularity (the world has enough clickbait rubbish without us adding to it). But given we don't go out of our way to entice readers to our articles - apart from simply trying to write something interesting - the popularity of each post does provide one rough way of picking out a segment of 'good reads' for an end of year summary (from the 600+ posts in total over the course of 2014). So over the next two days, without claiming the placing reflects the worth of any particular post, I'll post the top 50 most popular stories on The Daily Grail this year, so readers can catch up on some fascinating posts they might have missed. Today, here's #50 down to #26:

  1. 'The Slenderman' Blamed for the Attempted Murder of a 12-Year-Old-Girl
  2. Waking Up to the Devil in Your Room
  3. Leading Skeptic Brian Dunning Sentenced to 15 Months Prison for Fraud
  4. Review: Interstellar
  5. Australian UFOs, More Than 100 Years Ago
  6. New Research Suggests Autistic Savants May Have Enhanced Telepathic Abilities
  7. Consecration of the Host - You Are Legion, For You Are Many
  8. Can Science See Spirits?
  9. Is Precognition Real? Positive Replications of Daryl Bem's Controversial Findings
  10. Retrocausality: Physicists Ponder Whether the Future Can Influence the Past
  11. Return to Life - The Reincarnation Research of Dr Jim Tucker
  12. Bring Out Your Bigfoot: How 'Science' is Failing at Educating the Public
  13. Graham Hancock, Live
  14. Did the Great Sphinx of Egypt Originally Have a Different Head?
  15. Scientists Call For Open, Informed Study of Psi Effects and Consciousness
  16. Mars Rover Sees a Light on the Horizon
  17. "Not Fit to Be Printed": The Suppressed Alchemical Papers of the Great Scientist Sir Isaac Newton
  18. Are We All Persons of Interest?
  19. Pulling The Cosmic Trigger - The Kazimier, Liverpool, UK, 23 February 2014
  20. What the Dying Know
  21. The Mystery of the Blinking Mummy
  22. Dream Telepathy Research Reborn
  23. Graham Hancock: "New Archaeological Discoveries Uncover The Mysteries Of A Lost Civilisation"
  24. Total Death Experiences
  25. The Art of Dying: Beatles Guitarist George Harrison 'Lit Up the Room' When He Died

Tomorrow, #25 to #1!

News Briefs 24-12-2014

Happy Xmas to all, and to all a good night!

Thanks @anomalistnews and @djp1974.

Quote of the Day:

Christmas is not a time nor a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

Calvin Coolidge

EdgeScience #20

Issue 20 of the free PDF magazine EdgeScience is now available to download from the website of the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE). In the new issue:EdgeScience 20

  • "Will the Real Ubik Please Stand Up? Precognition of Scientific Information in the Fiction of Philip K. Dick", by William Sarill.
  • "On The Trail Of Mediterranean Mystery Snakes", by Karl Shuker.
  • "Is Time the Soul of the World?", by Marshall Payn.

Grab a free PDF of EdgeScience 20 from the SSE website, or the print version from MagCloud. If you do grab the free PDF, please consider a small donation to help the EdgeScience team continue with this excellent publication, via the button on the webpage. There's also a link to join the SSE on that page if you want to keep up with the latest academic research into the 'edgier' areas of science.

Heroic Monkey to the Rescue!

At the railway station in India's northern city of Kanpur, a monkey was seriously electrocuted after stepping on a live wire. The incident would have surely ended on a gruesome fate for the little primate, if it wasn't for one of his furry friends, who came to the rescue:

It is incidents like these which throw a monkey wrench (pardon the pun) on the whole 'selfish gene' notion promoted by neo-Darwinists like Dawkins and the like, who keep insisting that Evolution is spurred by violent competition; when in fact scientists like the late Lynn Margulis have proposed much more accurate evolutionary models founded on the concept of Symbiogenesis.

So next time you see someone in need of help, be a good ape and lend him or her a hand... or a tail.

________________
[UPDATE: Conner Habib has chimed in to point out that the monkey's heroism may have more to do with Mutualism (Cooperation) than Symbiogenesis --even though the latter is a scientific theory, and the other isn't. A fair point, yet the idea of mentioning Margulis was only to underscore how there are better ways to explain Nature than the 'dog-eat-dog' world proposed by Neo-Darwinists.

News Briefs 22-12-2014

Books!

Quote of the Day:

It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it... anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

Douglas Adams