As we enter the 21st century technological advances are coming to the aid of ocean scientists of all descriptions. But it will likely be the Marine ArchÃ¦ologists, 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 just 29% of the total surface area of our planet and the remaining 71% is currently ocean. Over the last 15 years or more The Morien Institute has been carefully documenting as much information about new discoveries underwater as we can find, and The Morien Institute Marine ArchÃ¦ology Archive gives just a glimpse of the many recent discoveries showing evidence of sometimes vast coastal settlements that were inundated by the seas in ancient times.
During the last Ice Age the sea-levels were some 300 feet lower than they are today, and a wide band either side of the equator enjoyed a pleasent 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 archÃ¦ologists and prehistorians who have traditionally regarded them simply as ‘quaint myths’ which they claimed have no bearing on reality.
But that is a very foolish perspective. The countless oral traditions of every ancient society that has ever 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 20th century 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 academia, we cannot afford to let this ancient knowledge die away simply becasue the supposed “experts” of today cannot understand it.
Neither can we continue to look at the prehistory of human civilisation 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 evidence is emerging which shows that the environmental impact of encounters with comets, asteroids and cometary debris has probably been responsible for the destruction of a number of ancient civilisations on many occasions in the prehistory of the archaic world over the past 15 to 20 millennia.
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. These individuals were ridiculed and vociferously opposed by academic archÃ¦ologists 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 history.
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 years or so,but are only just beginning to get a proper hearing. Such theories, if proven, could help not only to date these monuments, but would also illustrate how well their builders were oriented in time and space. The simple appreciation that the Earth orbited the Sun and periodically encountered streams of cometary debris suggests that ancient peoples may well have been far more aware of the position of the Earth in the solar system, and the dynamics of the solar system itself, than has previously been suspected.
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” is must reading for all serious students of ancient astronomy, astro-archÃ¦ology 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 case the total destruction, of various Bronze Age civilisations right across the so-called ‘fertile crescent’ from Greece and Anatolia through Mesopotamia and Afghanistan to Harrapan India.
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“Scientists already know from genetic evidence that human populations of Africa and Europe mixed in ancient times, from the days of the Roman Empire through to the slave trade of the colonial period. But evidence of any mixing prior to that has been comparatively less abundant.
‘It was very surprising to find that more than 35 percent of the sub-Saharan lineages in Europe arrived during a period that ranged from more than 11,000 years ago to the Roman Empire times’, said senior study author Dr. Antonio Salas of the University of Santiago de Compostela. The other 65% of European lineages showing African lineage represent population groups that arrived more recently.
The researchers analyzed and compared mtDNA genome sequences from different regions of Europe with that of other groups around the world. During this process they analyzed the mtDNA genomes of “haplogroup L”, (a lineage of sub-Saharan African origin) in Europe.
Because small changes occur over long periods of time in the mtDNA sequence of different populations, geneticists can use the changes as “markers” that hint at movements and migrations of human groups in the past, classifying them into distinct “haplogroups.”
For the first time, researchers were able to identify abundant traces from prehistoric times indicating contact and exchange between European and African populations long before the advent of the civilizations of recorded history.”
“Five telescopes made of bone and dating to the 18th century have been discovered in Amsterdam, with two of the scopes found in the equivalent of toilets.
At the time, called the Enlightenment, the telescopes would have been considered luxury items and were likely used to gaze at objects on land or sea, rather than to look at the stars. They were created during a period when Amsterdam was a flourishing center for trade, one that attracted talented craftsmen.
They were created during a period when Amsterdam was a flourishing center for trade, one that attracted talented craftsmen.
Ranging in length from roughly 3 to 5 inches (80 to 140 millimeters), the telescopes were made using cattle metatarsal bone.
“This particular bone of cow, the metatarsal bone, is actually quite straight and round”, Marloes Rijkelijkhuizen, of the Amsterdam Archaeological Centre at the University of Amsterdam, told LiveScience.
“It’s a nice shape to make these telescopes from, it’s straight and (has a) very round narrow cavity.””
“A Canadian scientist’s analysis of ancient animal remains found in Ohio â€” including the leg bone of an extinct giant sloth believed to have been butchered by an Ice Age hunter more than 13,000 years ago â€” has added weight to a once-controversial argument that humans arrived in North America thousands of years earlier than previously believed.
The discovery of what appear to be dozens of cut marks on the femur of a gargantuan, 1,300-kilogram Jefferson’s ground sloth is being hailed as the earliest trace of a human presence in the Great Lakes state
But the find also represents a significant new piece of evidence in support of the theory that the first inhabitants of Canada, the U.S. and the rest of the Americas were not the so-called Clovis people â€” known from distinctive tools they left at various archeological sites from about 12,600 years ago â€” but a much earlier wave of Ice Age migrants ancestral to many of today’s New World aboriginal populations.
The butchered-sloth discovery â€” recently confirmed by University of Manitoba researcher Haskel Greenfield, co-author of a paper published in the latest issue of the journal World Archaeology â€” bolsters the growing consensus that prehistoric Asians crossed from eastern Russian to western Alaska as early as 16,000 years ago, possibly travelling down the coast of B.C. before spreading to the continental interior and the far reaches of South America.”
“Over a century after the wreckage of Antikythera was found by chance (as often happens in the field of archaeology), the archaeological finds brought to light will be showcased together in the exhibition ”The Antikythera Shipwreck: the ship – the treasures – the Mechanism” organised by Greece’s National Archaeological Museum.
The show will be inaugurated on April 5 and will remain open until the end of April 2013. It boasts 378 finds, including sculptures, clay and bronze vases, coins, jewels, fragments of the ship, and, of course, the famous Antikythera Mechanism, considered the oldest computer ever made.
”The oldest example of technology surviving to the present day, which entirely changes our knowledge about ancient Greek technology,” the British physicist and mathematician Derek De Solla Price said in speaking about this mysterious object, of which he is its first scholar.
Among the finds to be exhibited in the show are also dishes, jugs and amphorae with an acute base for the transporting of the water, oil, wine and dry food necessary for lengthy journeys.”
“A quartzite colossus of 18th Dynasty King Amenhotep III is to be raised on Luxor’s west bank on Saturday .
The colossus was unearthed in 2004 by an Egyptian-European archaeological mission led by Horig Sourouzian during routine excavation work. It was 100 meters behind the gigantic colossi of Memnon which represent the same king at the main entrance of its temple.
The colossus was half buried under Nile alluvia in seven pieces.”
Academic archÃ¦ologists and historians are publicly confident that they understand most
if not all aspects of prehistory: when and where the first settled communities appeared,
when and where the first experiments with agriculture and domestication of animals
began, and they collectively paint a picture of a gradual development from small
hunter-gather groups to larger tribal societies and then the eventual rise of the
first supposedly civilised urban cultures of Mesopotamia, Akkad and Egypt
But numerous discoveries being made all over the world are increasingly questioning
that well-established wisdom, and as the standard paradigm of prehistory begins to fall apart the 11,000-year-old megalithic complex at GÃ¶bekli Tepe is just one of the discoveries that is changing our misunderstanding of the archaic past
a selection of books written by John Michell (1933-2010)
the greatest Platonist of the 20th century