As we enter the 21st century technological advances are coming to the aid of scientists of all descriptions. But it will likely be the Marine Archaeologists, whose discoveries on the continental shelves that were once the coastal plains of the archaic world that will most significantly change our picture of the past. We cannot go on thinking of the past from the scant knowledge available to us from excavations of the remains of ancient peoples discovered solely on the dry land we now live on.
This dry land comprises around 29% of the total surface area of our planet and the remaining 71% is currently ocean. Over the last 17 years or so The Morien Institute has been carefully documenting as much information about new discoveries underwater as we can find, and The Morien Institute Marine Archaeology Archive gives just a glimpse of the many recent discoveries showing evidence of sometimes ‘vast coastal settlements’ that were inundated by rising seas in ancient times.
During the last Ice Age the ‘sea-levels were more than 300 feet lower than they are today’, and a wide band either side of the equator enjoyed a pleasant enough climate for human civilisation to have flourished in many parts of the world. When the sea levels rose as the ice sheets melted ‘many coastal settlements disappeared under the waves’ – forgotten except in the oral traditions of peoples in every land. These oral traditions represent an invaluable archive of knowledge from the archaic world, but they are almost always dismissed by academic archaeologists and prehistorians who have traditionally regarded them simply as ‘quaint myths’ which they collectively claimed have no bearing on reality.
But that is a very foolish perspective. What remains of the oral traditions of the many ancient societies that once developed on our planet must be preserved at all costs so that future peoples can study the wisdom of ancient peoples with an open mind that was sadly absent from past academic thinking. These oral traditions are now acknowledged as being the invaluable ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ of ancient peoples, and represent a collective understanding of the natural world that had developed through careful observation over countless millennia. Despite the scepticism expressed in some academic disciplines, we cannot afford to let this ancient knowledge die out simply because the supposed “experts” of today cannot understand it.
Neither can we continue to look at the prehistory of human societies and civilisations as if our planet somehow stands alone in empty space. Nothing could be further from reality. Our immediate solar system environment is more of a ‘cosmic shooting gallery’ than a vast expanse of emptiness, and a great body of evidence is building which shows that the environmental impact of encounters with comets, asteroids and cometary debris has been responsible for ‘the destruction of numerous ancient civilisations’ on several occasions in the archaic world over the past 10 to 20 millennia.
Alongside this our planet orbits a very dynamic star, which we call the Sun, and modern research is showing that our weather, and its long-term trends we refer to as our climate, is very much determined by its moods. Sometimes the sun is quiet, with few sunspots and few solar storms. At other times it is very active with many sunspots, many solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) of charged particles that impact our geomagnetic field with sometimes disastrous consequences for all organisms on Earth, including humans and their societies.
Many scientists are coming to realise that these strong, X-class CMEs can, and have had, catastrophic effects on our climate, abruptly ending Ice Ages and bringing with them solar radiation that can threaten all life on Earth. Exactly how many times this has happened in the past is unknown at present, but scientists are beginning to recognise their “fingerprints” in a variety of proxy data records, and in the near future we will know more for certain.
Throughout the last few hundred years, and quite probably before that, individual researchers ranging from the eccentric ‘Gentleman Antiquarians’ of the 17 & 1800s to the so-called ‘dissident professors’ of the 20th century have pursued lines of enquiry which has horrified general academia. Those individuals were ridiculed and their ideas vociferously opposed by academic archaeologists and prehistorians who had often invested a lifetime’s work in what the more honest amongst them might reluctantly admit in private company to have been a totally inaccurate view of human prehistory.
Theories that many ‘megalithic sites’ began life as some form of observatories acting as ‘early-warning systems’ for imminent impacts of cosmic debris from the break up of a giant comet have been emerging over the last 30-50 years or so. Evidence supporting these theories is helping not only to date some of these monuments, but also illustrates how well their builders were oriented in time and space. A new appreciation that our ancestors were acutely aware that the Earth orbited the Sun, and that it periodically encountered streams of cometary debris, suggests that ancient peoples understood the dynamics of the solar system to a far greater degree than has previously been acknowledged.
Dr. Duncan Steel, then of Spaceguard Australia, presented a paper to the Society for Inter-Disciplinary Studies conference at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, in July of 1997, in which he gave details of his research suggesting that the earlier ‘henge circle’ which preceded the stone circles at Stonehenge could have been deliberately constructed to function as a ‘cosmic impact early warning system’. His paper, “Before the Stones: Stonehenge I as a Cometary Catastrophe Predictor” makes for interesting reading for all serious students of ancient astronomy, astro-archaeology, archaeoastronomy and prehistory.
The Cambridge Conference focussed primarily on the effects of ‘natural catastrophes resulting from the impacts of cometary debris’. These impacts were presented as being the likely causes of the sudden collapse and in many cases the total destruction of various Bronze Age civilisations, giving rise to radical cultural changes, and to a number of new religions with accompanying astro-mythologies that had hitherto been impossible for academia to understand.
The simultaneous collapse of these civilizations has long puzzled archaeologists and prehistorians as the vast areas affected ran right across the ‘fertile crescent’ destroying the most advanced societies of the time, ranging in distance from Greece and Anatolia through to Mesopotamia and Afghanistan and continuing eastwards to encompass India and Central Asia.
The cause of the most perplexing ‘Bronze Age Event’ around 2350 – 2300 BC has only recently become clear as a wide variety of ‘ologists from various disciplines have begun reviewing the mythologies of the time. What they have found throughout numerous inter-disciplinary studies are the accurate observations of ancient skywatchers describing cosmic bombardment and flooding which in every case, and in every region, came directly from the ancient skies.
These ‘natural cosmic catastrophes’ were recorded by all ancient societies and passed down through countless generations to become the oral traditions that are held sacred by the peoples whose ancestors directly experienced them, but which are often dismissed as being ‘quaint myths that have no bearing on reality’ by so-called scholars who have never even tried to understand them. Bombardment of our planet by cosmic debris is, like all things in the natural world, a cyclical phenomena. If ancient traditions are any indication it has happened many times in the past, and if we dismiss the records kept by ancient peoples simply because they were recorded in a language that our modern scientists cannot understand, then we will not be prepared when it happens again.
In October 1900, Captain Dimitrious Kondos was leading a team of sponge divers near the island of Antikythera off the coast of Greece. They noticed a shipwreck about 180 feet below the surface and began to investigate. Amongst the artifacts that they brought up was a coral-encrusted piece of metal that later Archaeologists found was some sort of gear wheel. The rest of the artifacts, along with the shape of the boat, suggested a date around 2000 years ago, which made the find one of the most anomalous that had ever been recovered from the world’s seas. It became known as ‘The Antikythera Mechanism’.
In 2006 the journal “Nature” published a letter, and a full paper about the mechanism was published in 2008, detailing the findings of Prof. Mike G. Edmunds of Cardiff University. Using high-resolution X-ray tomography to study the fragments of the anomalous Antikythera Mechanism, they found that it was in fact ‘a bronze mechanical analog computer’ that could be used to calculate the positions and various cycles of the Moon – as seen from the Earth.
This incredible discovery is indisputable evidence that ancient peoples were far more capable of understanding the cyclical nature of the movements of celestial bodies and various temporary celestial phenomena than they have previously been given credit for, and ‘The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project’ has definitively shown that they were also more than capable of constructing devices which could predict them. There was much discussion about its supposed anomalous nature, but it is only anomalous if viewed in isolation or in the context of a completely inaccurate view of prehistory. In the context of the astronomical knowledge embedded into the siting and construction of megalithic structures a long period of development becomes evident, and is deserving of radical review in light of The Antikythera Mechanism.
Over the past 17 years or so The Morien Institute has archived new archaeological discoveries as well as new interpretations of old archaeological discoveries. In our news pages we list many items that may not seem directly related to a better understanding of what our ancestors saw and experienced in ancient skies. But ‘astro-mythology’ and its interpretation, and constant review of our currently poor appreciation of the scientific achievements of our ancestors remains the common theme that we feel ties most of them together. While our general Archaeology News pages reports discoveries that often re-write history and offer a clearer understanding of prehistory.
It is only an open-minded approach to prehistory, and a willingness to accept what is found rather then attempting to make new discoveries fit into some pre-conceived paradigm, that will help us gain a better understanding of our ancient past than is currently taught in our schools, colleges and universities.
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“Foul-smelling and ill-tempered, camels might have gained a few admirers among atheists this month after helping science further rock the world of religion.
As reported in National Geographic, archaeologists have proved camels weren’t domesticated in Israel until 930 BC – ‘several centuries after they appear in the Bible’.
This strongly suggests many parts of the Bible featuring the one-humped dromedary are not quite accurate.
It quotes research by archaeologists from Tel Aviv University confirming camels played no role in the lives of biblical figures such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, ‘and were almost certainly inserted into the story centuries later’.
‘While there are conflicting theories about when the Bible was composed … this supports earlier studies that have challenged the Bible’s veracity as a historic document’, writes National Geographic.”
“A new study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, suggests that the site researchers had previously thought was the starting place of many of Stonehenge’s rocks may not have been the source after all.
Instead, it looks like the rocks actually come from a different site three kilometres away.
The findings, bring into question the long-standing theory that people transported the rocks from Wales to Wiltshire in order to build the monument.
The research focused on the smaller stones at Stonehenge, called bluestones.
The chemistry of these rocks varies, but they all originate from the Preseli Hills in Wales and are thought to have been transported to the Stonehenge site over 4000 years ago.
By confirming the source of the rocks, the researchers hope to help answer the long standing question of how around 80 of these bluestones, weighing up to three tonnes each, were transported 250 kilometres from southwest Wales to Wiltshire.” [Read The Full Story]
“Islamic fundamentalists in Syria have started to destroy archaeological treasures such as Byzantine mosaics and Greek and Roman statues because their portrayal of human beings is contrary to their religious beliefs.
The systematic destruction of antiquities may be the worst disaster to ancient monuments since the Taliban in Afghanistan dynamited the giant statues of Buddha at Bamiyan in 2001 for similar ideological reasons.
In mid-January the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), an al-Qa’ida-type movement controlling much of north-east Syria, blew up and destroyed a sixth-century Byzantine mosaic near the city of Raqqa on the Euphrates.
The official head of antiquities for Raqqa province, who has fled to Damascus and does not want his name published, told The Independent: ‘It happened between 12 and 15 days ago. A Turkish businessman had come to Raqqa to try to buy the mosaic. This alerted them [Isis] to its existence and they came and blew it up. It is completely lost.’
Other sites destroyed by Islamic fundamentalists include the reliefs carved at the Shash Hamdan, a Roman cemetery in Aleppo province.
Also in the Aleppo countryside, statues carved out of the sides of a valley at al-Qatora have been deliberately targeted by gunfire and smashed into fragments.” [Read The Full Story]
“The largest mass extinction in the history of animal life occurred some 252 million years ago, wiping out more than 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent of life on land – including the largest insects known to have inhabited the Earth.
Multiple theories have aimed to explain the cause of what’s now known as the end-Permian extinction, including an asteroid impact, massive volcanic eruptions, or a cataclysmic cascade of environmental events.
But pinpointing the cause of the extinction requires better measurements of how long the extinction period lasted.
Now researchers at MIT have determined that the end-Permian extinction occurred over 60,000 years, give or take 48,000 years – practically instantaneous, from a geologic perspective.
The new timescale is based on more precise dating techniques, and indicates that the most severe extinction in history may have happened more than 10 times faster than scientists had previously thought.” [Read The Full Story]
“From the Old Cities of Damascus and Aleppo to Bosra, Palmyra, the crusaders castle Crac des Chevaliers and the archaeological sites of Mari, Ugarit and Ebla, much of the cultural and archaeological heritage of Syria has been heavily damaged, bombed or destroyed.
The horrors of the hundreds of thousands dead over the past three years of conflict are linked to those of this less discussed tragedy.
A campaign launched in Rome on Tuesday by Francesco Rutelli aims to draw greater attention to the risks to Syria’s cultural heritage.
The former culture minister and former Rome mayor told the media that ‘it wasn’t like this for Iraq’.“
[The destruction and looting of archaeological treasures in Syria is increasing daily. Many of the earliest known human settlements are now in various states of ruin, and precious irreplaceable artifacts are missing. Please join the campaignn to stop this madness. – Ed.]
“The discovery of a previously unknown ancient Egyptian pharaoh has revealed evidence of a lost 3,600-year-old dynasty.
At the small town of Abydos near the Upper Egyptian city of Sohag, US archaeologists are busy deciphering a critical era in ancient Egyptian history that took place between the Second Intermediate Period and the rise of the New Kingdom.
According to Egyptologists, this period is known for its fragmentation and political conflict as the authorities at the time struggled against rival kingdoms in the north ruled by the Hyksos and in the south ruled from Thebes.
Earlier this month excavators from Pennsylvania University in the US led by Josef Wegner stumbled upon what is believed to be the tomb of a previously unknown ancient Egyptian pharaoh who ruled during a forgotten local dynasty called Abydos.”
“The Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) has upgraded the digital archive of Dead Sea Scrolls with thousands of high-quality images of ancient text accompanied by translations.
The Authority has said the latest revamp of the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library will allow users to view the images in ‘unprecedented quality’.
More than 10,000 photographs of the scrolls, which were found in caves at Qumran in the Judean Desert, have been uploaded as part of the overhaul.
‘Dead Sea Scrolls scholars, as well as the general public, will now be able to view, explore, and examine one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century on their personal computers and even on their cellular phones’, a press release from the IAA said.”
“Archaeologists working near the ancient settlement of Edfu, in southern Egypt, have uncovered a step pyramid that dates back about 4,600 years, predating the Great Pyramid of Giza by at least a few decades.
The step pyramid, which once stood as high as 43 feet, is one of seven so-called ‘provincial’ pyramids built by either the pharaoh Huni (reign ca. 2635-2610 B.C.) or Snefru (reign ca. 2610-2590 B.C.).
Over time, the step pyramid’s stone blocks were pillaged, and the monument was exposed to weathering, so today, it’s only about 16 feet tall.
Scattered throughout central and southern Egypt, the provincial pyramids are located near major settlements, have no internal chambers and were not intended for burial.
Six of the seven pyramids have almost identical dimensions, including the newly uncovered one at Edfu, which is about 60 x 61 feet.”
[In October 1900, Captain Dimitrious Kondos was leading a team of sponge divers near the the island of Antikythera off the coast of Greece. They noticed a shipwreck about 180 feet below the surface and began to investigate. Amongst the artifacts that they brought up was a coral-encrusted piece of metal that later archaeologists found was some sort of gear wheel.
The rest of the artifacts, along with the shape of the boat, suggested a date around 2000 years ago, which made the find one of the most anomalous that had ever been recovered from the Greek seas. It became known as The Antikythera Mechanism.
In 2006 the journal “Nature” published a letter, and another paper about the mechanism was published in 2008, detailing the findings of Prof. Mike G. Edmunds of Cardiff University. Using high-resolution X-ray tomography to study the fragments of the anomalous Antikythera Mechanism, they found that it was in fact a bronze mechanical analog computer that could be used to calculate the astronomical positions and various cycles of the Moon – as seen from the Earth: – Ed]
Part of the Antikythera Mechanism
Antikythera Mechanism Research Project
2000-year-old analog computer recreated
More Antikythera Mechanism Information & Commentary:
“The 2300 BC Event takes a new look at an old puzzle: what happened at this date to cause the various advanced societies on the Earth to simultaneously collapse?
Civilizations in Anatolia and Greece, through Egypt and the Middle East, and eastward to India and Central Asia were at their height. The collapse of these civilizations due to earthquakes and climatic changes has been mirrored by similar interruptions on all continents, in the Arctic, and extending to the Pacific.
The discontinuities have long puzzled archaeologists and historians. New religions and accompanying mythologies appeared at this time in all cultural regions describing bombardment and flooding from the skies.
Strangely, the dominant aspect of the mythologies, however, is the observation and worship of a ring appearing to surround the Earth, oriented to the two Ursa (Bear) constellations.”
“Some time around 2300 BC the Eath encountered a dense clustering of space debris, the early Southern & Northern Taurid meteoroid stream. The result was an intense fall of meteoroids, some of them sufficiently large to cause surface destruction.
Simultaneous with the meteoroid fall was a huge downpouring of water which caused flash flooding. Extensive destruction and loss of life resulted. An astonishing aspect of the event was the formation of a ring surrounding the Earth, reflecting sunlight during the day, hiding some stars at night, and moving around the sky through a 24-hour period.
Following the ‘main event’, there were crustal movements which shifted the location of water sources, and caused earthquakes which destroyed settlements. Abrupt severe climate changes occurred.”
“The Northern/Southern Taurid meteoroid stream is identified as the specific meteoroid stream that the Earth encountered at 2300 BC.
The Earth’s encounter with a dense cluster of large objects would produce atmospheric phenomena very different from the pleasant and interesting night displays of meteor trails that are within our own experience.
The rain of objects would have generated extraordinary visual and auditory effects combined with ground vibrations; and under extreme conditions would bring about severe surface destruction and loss of life.
The overall event was associated by the people with powerful deities and formed the basis for major religions. The mythologies and traditions are, in large part, the residues of those religions.”
Research in the field of neo-catastrophism and impact cratering has quickened its pace since the early 1980s. Scholars such as Victor Clube, Bill Napier, Mark Bailey, Sir Fred Hoyle and Duncan Steel claim that a more ‘active’ sky might have caused major cultural changes of Bronze Age civilizations, belief systems and religious rituals.”
“After rumors surfaced about the sun bisecting a petroglyph at Chaco Canyon, people never looked at the site the same again.
The discovery proposed a cosmology at Chaco, and the book looks at the people who lived in the San Juan Basin from 850 AD to 1300, developing an elaborate culture around the cycles of the sun and moon.
Anna Sofaer’s pioneering work on Chaco Canyon, a World Heritage Site, should be required reading for anyone interested in how the prehistoric people of the American Southwest conceptualized their universe and placed themselves within that universe.”
“Since the beginning of humankind, people around the world have had a strong interest in the powers and beings perceived in the sky.
This compelling short work helps students fully understand and appreciate the ways in which non-Western indigenous and small-scale societies perceive, conceptualize, and make sure of what they astronomically observe.
With its concise explanations of prominent astronomical phenomena, discussions of relevant crosscultural examples, and instructive suggestions for active field research, Patterns in the Sky is a unique and practical guide for doing ethnoastronomy.
In addition, Fabian offers exercises in observational astronomy with the naked eye so that students can get in touch with the cosmos and natural world around them.”
“Stonehenge has fascinated mankind for centuries, enveloping generation after generation in its haunting mystery. But while much has been learned about this ancient monument, the fundamental questions remain: Who built it? What was its purpose? How was it used?
Drawing on more than 15 years of research, John North has at last succeeded where others have failed. He comprehensively examines Stonehenge from all available angles — archeological, astronomical, and spiritual — and considers relevant research from other prehistoric remains in Britain and Northern Europe. He shows, for the first time, that the stones were not so much sighting devices as maps of the heavens and that the design of the monument evolved over thousands of years rather than conforming to a single original blueprint.
Such observations form the basis of deductions about prehistoric life and religion that will profoundly affect our understanding of who we are and where we came from.”